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Guide Dog Tales

Autumn 2024

CEO message

You make a lasting impact on the lives of those who turn to Guide Dogs for help and I can’t thank you enough.

This issue of Guide Dog Tales is full of inspiring stories about the accomplishments of many in our Guide Dogs community who’ve experienced their successes because of your ongoing support.

In Bundaberg, Helen and her new Guide Dog Sparky continue on new adventures thanks to your support of our recent Christmas Appeal. I know Helen was blown away by the many, many messages of thanks to her retired Guide Dog Hank, who’s now enjoying a quieter life full of shorter walks, toys to chew and a treat or two for being such a good boy.

Sue on the Gold Coast has found new confidence with Guide Dog Hans by her side, helping her remain fiercely independent while also providing a new friend and play mate for her cat, Precious.

Dalmayne from Brisbane has never felt so empowered, having joined the self-defense classes in the Leisure and Lifestyle Program, allowing her to feel safer and be much more active in her community.

We recently celebrated the achievements of another 30 Graduates who completed programs to boost their independence and mobility, including 15 new Guide Dog teams working right across the state. This is a feat not possible, without your support.

And then there’s Santi, who with Guide Dog Trey by his side, is leading innovative research at QUT around robot Guide Dogs to pave the way for more accessibility options for people living with no or low vision in the future.

From sponsoring a litter of promising puppies, to leaving a lasting legacy through a gift in Will, fundraising in the community, or giving a gift in memory of a loved one, your kindness reflects what matters most to you, and means that those in need can access vital assistance.

So, whether your support helps train the next generation of highly-skilled Guide Dogs or supports the programs that teach new and empowering skills, you are creating a future filled with hope, opportunity, and independence for Queenslanders living with low vision or blindness. Thank you once again.

Jock Beveridge
Acting CEO

Helen’s Christmas present was just the best. Hundreds of Queenslanders like you sent in their well-wishes for Helen’s Guide Dog Hank as he headed into retirement.

“I was so deeply touched by all the messages to Hank,” Helen said.

“It just means so much to know how loved Hank is, right across Queensland, even by those who never met him.

“The messages were so special to me and my good friend Nerida—we certainly had a tear or two in our eyes as she read them to me.”

Hank is now enjoying a comfortable retirement with one of Helen’s friends and enjoys hearing some of your messages each night, before he goes to bed.

Image of Helen and Hank

Helen’s new Guide Dog, Sparky, is now following on in Hank’s furry paw prints. At the end of last year, Sparky even guided Helen on their first big trip together —a train trip holiday to Far North Queensland—and his impressive guiding skills earnt him compliments and treats everywhere they went.

Thank you for supporting the next generation of Guide Dogs like Sparky who will transform more lives like Helen’s in 2024.

Marie’s tribute to her late brother Gary was more life-changing than she could ever have imagined.

Gary’s love of dogs inspired Marie to give a gift to Guide Dogs in his memory, helping train two new promising puppies that she chose to name ‘Paddy’ and ‘Pearl’.

“Sponsoring Paddy and Pearl kept my brother’s memory alive,” Marie explained.

“It’s really wonderful to be part of their journey and to share it with everyone who knew Gary.

“Whenever the team at Guide Dogs sent me photos or the puppies reached a new milestone, I’d send it on. Everyone who loved Gary came along with me on the journey.”

Sponsoring Paddy and Pearl was just what Marie needed and was a beautiful way to remember her brother. It opened new doors for her and sparked an even deeper passion for helping others and sharing the impact of our life-changing dogs.

Images of two black puppies in training coats.

“When I was at one of Paddy’s milestone celebrations, I found out how much volunteer Puppy Raisers were needed, so decided to put my hand up to help raise a puppy.

“Since then, I’ve also joined the ambassador program and look after Trainee Support Dog Wendy.

“I’m part of the Guide Dogs family now—and it truly is a family. Everyone I’ve met along the way has become a friend.”

Just like Marie’s tribute to Gary, there are many ways your gift can leave a lasting pawprint to remember your loved one.

To find out more about how your donation can have the greatest impact, please call Heidi in our Philanthropy Team on 07 3500 9006.

U-nique U-Litter names chosen by U

Picking the paw-fect names for the next generation of promising puppies can be a bit of a challenge when U get towards the end of the alphabet. But the letter “U” was no match for your creativity! Puppy Pals right across Queensland unleashed their imagination to come up with the ultimate set of u-nique names for their newest litter of sponsored puppies. From over 100 suggestions, the paw-fect seven names were picked with fitting meanings behind each. Meet: Usman, Ulrich, Ultra, Uno, Uri, Unity and Ulani. As a Puppy Pal you’ll be able to follow the U Litter’s journey throughout the year with exclusive updates on their progress. For more information visit

  • Ulani

    • Gender: Female
    • Cheerful.

  • Ulrich

    • Gender: Male
    • Noble.

  • Ultra

    • Gender: Male
    • Beyond the range of limits.

  • Unity

    • Gender: Female
    • Being together or at one with someone.

  • Uno

    • Gender: Male
    • Number one. It’s also a well-suited name for a playful pup with a nod to the popular card game.

  • Uri

    • Gender: Male
    • My light, my flame (conveying warmth and the potential to become someone’s guiding light).

  • Usman

    • Gender: Male
    • The chosen one amongst a tribe of brave people (and a nod to Australian cricket).

In October, the Guide Dogs community of volunteers, Puppy Raisers, staff and supporters like you gathered in Brisbane to celebrate the achievements of 30 graduates from Guide Dogs Queensland’s mobility programs.

This included 15 new working Guide Dog teams from across Queensland, just like graduate speaker Rhett with his new Guide Dog, Trixie.

Rhett was diagnosed with a degenerative vision condition, Retinitis Pigmentosa, when he was just 15-years-old.

“I had no doubt that I would be one of the lucky ones that would get away with the vision I had—at the time, my only real concern was night blindness,” Rhett shared.

“It wasn’t until I was in my mid-thirties that I realised something wasn’t quite right. As you could imagine, what followed was a fear-filled and unstable few years as my vision depleted.

Image of Rhett and Trixie

“How much was my life going to change? I owned and operated my own business, I had a beautiful young family and an amazing wife. My genuine fear was the possibility I could lose it all as well as my sense of self, sight, and independence.”

Throughout his speech, Rhett shared how he’d turned to Guide Dogs for support and soon regained confidence and honed his mobility skills. He even discovered his perfect match with his first Guide Dog, a somewhat strong-willed Golden Retriever named Jeffrey.

“Jeffrey was just what I needed— although, I remember once being in the middle of the city with him having a non-verbal argument about whether to go to the park or the coffee shop first. That must have been interesting to watch!”

Now seven years later, Rhett is celebrating his next perfect partnership with his new Guide Dog, Trixie. “Trixie is eager to please and has settled into our family as if she was always there. What could be better than moving through the world with confidence, with your best friend wherever you go?”

Thank you for making stories like this possible and helping change the lives of Guide Dogs graduates just like Rhett with Trixie.

Guide Dog graduates:
Alan Davies and King
Anne-Marie Caulton and Jerry
Brian Reckenberg and Koda
Danae Sweetapple and Riley
Dave Wane and Jazzy
Geoff Skinner and Robbo
Jennea Kitt and Fritz
Joanna Wilkes and Jade
Michael Sheppard and Larry
Narelle Gatti and Rocket
Ray Foreman and Gabe
Rhett Bryant and Trixie
Robin Braidwood and Bobby
Sahar Bilney and Nicky
Stacey Clark and Wally

Orientation & Mobility long cane skills graduates:
Ann Wuth
Kaylie Trembath
Ilie Chilnicean
Mark Gray
Talei Driver
Tristan Bowen

Occupational Therapy program to optimise independence and safety graduates:
Bert Rybarczyk (also graduating from the Orientation & Mobility long cane skills)
Darrell Sonter
Fiona Kingsley
George van der Heide
Ulla Mannerstrale
William Fossey

Occupational Therapy program to access assistive technology graduates:
Raymond Ferguson

Orientation & Mobility foundation mobility program graduate:
Larry Marshall

Assistive Technology graduates:
Valma Millican

Your support is the driving force behind people feeling safe.

Self-defense classes are helping more Queenslanders living with low vision or blindness build confidence to feel safe when moving independently around their communities.
Dalmayne has been a keen participant in the lifestyle program.

“There are fantastic people in the class and Nick, our Sensei, really helps make us all feel very safe,” she said.

“I used to get so emotional and upset at the thought of venturing out into public spaces—it was all too much with my limited vision.

“Something as simple as a basketball bouncing down the street would create a feeling of unease and vulnerability.

“But now I feel more confident and well prepared with the techniques and tools I’ve learnt to stay safe.”

Thank you for creating opportunities for Queenslanders to learn new skills, improve fitness and increase confidence through these classes and the Leisure and Lifestyle program.

A group of people in a self defence class.

The paw-tential to change lives!

It almost sounds like something from a Sci-Fi movie, but Guide Dog Handler Santi is embarking on a research study into robotic Guide Dogs!

Santi is an accomplished entrepreneur, United Nations panelist, TedX speaker, and a passionate accessibility advocate who draws on his lived experience to help others.

He is also an Electrical Engineering Honours student at the Queensland University of Technology, where his robot— affectionately known as ‘Spot’—forms part of his thesis.

“We’re definitely not trying to replace Guide Dogs,” Santi explained.

“Dogs are amazing. You can’t replace the things they bring—the companionship and the friendship they provide outside their ability to help us move around is immense, and I would be the first one to say I could not give up my Guide Dog, Trey.

While ‘Spot’, the robot, could never replace Santi’s Guide Dog Trey, Santi’s research could help increase accessibility options for others in the future.

“We see a robot being useful for people who might not have the ability to look after an animal, but still want the mobility benefits that a Guide Dog provides.

“A robot could also be used in extremely hot or cold conditions where it’s not suitable to take your dog out, or when you’re travelling overseas.”

While working robot Guide Dogs are still years away from being a reality, we’re excited to see how Santi’s research progresses and the impact his work has to transform lives in the future.

Santi and Trey

With 13 adorable grandchildren, Client Ambassador Sue has always found joy in the funny things kids say.

Sue with her loyal Guide Dog Vegas by her side, recently visited the C&K Strathpine Community Kindergarten and Preschool, and the C&K Bald Hills Community Kindergarten to thank them for their amazing fundraising efforts through our Youth Ambassador Program.

“One of the children said, ‘I’ve got a Guide Dog at home too!’. But on further investigation it turned out they had pet Labradors at home,” Sue laughed.

“The children were so curious and it made for a wonderful discussion on the difference between what working Guide Dogs and pet dogs do in their daily lives.”

Looking for a paw-some way to engage your young people with the amazing work of Guide Dogs? Click here to join the Youth Ambassador Program.

A group of children listening sitting in a class listening to someone speak.

Paws for thought

A note from Puppy Raiser Suzanne:

My journey started when my grandsons’ school sponsored a Guide Dog pup named Hope. They sent me a picture of her at just 6-weeks-old. How could I resist those Labrador eyes?

I applied to Guide Dogs to become a first-time Puppy Raiser and soon I was introduced to 10-week-old Manny – my new baby boy.

Along this journey, I saw you’re never too young or too old, too shy or too confident, too bored or too busy to stop and put life into focus.

There were moments of triumph – like the first day he confidently made his way down the pet food aisle of the supermarket without stopping to sniff. That’s a real accomplishment! I walked tall like a proud parent at an awards night.

Manny in his coat.

Manny gave me an opportunity to learn about myself. He made me laugh, he made me cry, he stole my heart. Then I had to send him on his way to change someone else’s life.

My life is so much better from the experience, my pathways so much clearer and my understanding of who I am and what I can achieve, so much surer. I’m sure Manny will have a happy and purposeful life, and so will I.

To learn more about becoming a Puppy Raiser visit

You may remember Hans from our last edition of Guide Dog Tales.

Hans and his neighbour Chris were true mates who wanted to create a lasting impact through gifts in their Wills.

After Hans passed away, a promising puppy was named in his memory. Chris was honoured to see his friends’ legacy live on, proudly following the progress of tiny pup Hans all the way through to life-changing Guide Dog companion.

“Watching Guide Dogs Hans’ journey was incredibly rewarding and reaffirmed to me that Hans (the human’s) decision to include Guide Dogs in his Will was absolutely the right one—and I know that it is absolutely the right choice for me too,” Chris said.

“Knowing that one day my gift will help someone living with low vision in the same way Hans’ has, means the world to me.”

Guide Dog Hans recently found his perfect match with Sue on the Gold Coast, providing her with wonderful companionship and more confidence in her day-to-day life.

He’s also learnt to share his new home with Sue’s cat, his new fur-sibling named Precious, much to Sue’s delight.

“They’re very good together and even touch noses now,” Sue told us with a smile.

“Hans is very kind, gentle, and conscious of our relationship.

“I enjoy the comfort of having him around and knowing that he never leaves my side.”

Sue has peace of mind knowing Hans is looking out for obstacles and helping her navigate challenges such as the uneven pavements in her local area.

“I really enjoyed the process of being matched with Hans and was so impressed with the trainers,” she said.

“They were very kind, understanding and thorough. Every detail was considered so it really was a perfect match.”

Hans has had a real impact in Sue’s life today and given her reassurance for the future.

“I’m known as being ferociously independent,” Sue explained.

“I live by myself and manage as much as I can on my own. With Hans’ help, I’m hoping to be able to do that for longer than I might have been able to without him.

“I am absolutely in awe of people who would give a gift in their Will to train a dog to do such an important thing.

“I think it’s amazing and I’d like to think my Hans is a great example that encourages others to do the same.”

Click here to read Chris and Hans’ story in the last Guide Dog Tales.

Sue and Hans

Leave a lasting legacy like Hans

Did you know that one in two Australians has writing or updating their Will on their ‘to do’ list? If you’re one of these people, we’ve listed some simple steps below to help get you started.

Step 1: Contact our team.

We’re here to answer any questions you may have. You can call Renae on 07 3869 5917 or email

Step 2: Discuss with your legal advisor.

They’ll provide advice to ensure your Will meets all legal requirements, giving you confidence that your wishes will be carried out.

Step 3: Tell your family and friends.

Once you’ve taken care of your family and friends, it’s important to discuss your intentions with them so they understand your decision to support Queenslanders with low vision or blindness.

Step 4: Prepare your Will.

Between 18 and 24 March, SafeWill is offering free online Wills to the Guide Dogs community. To write your online Will, visit

After losing his sight in an accident 20 years ago, John found a new sense of freedom and independence with a Guide Dog by his side.

Over the years, John has had three Guide Dogs—Cole, Kane and Heidi—who each changed his life for the better in their own unique ways, thanks to your support.

Wanting to give back, John gets into the festive spirit over Christmas, decorating his Toowoomba home with a beautiful Christmas light display. Last year, John raised close to $1,500 to help more Queenslanders with low vision or blindness!

To get creative with your fundraising and make a difference like John, contact Rebecca at or visit

a man and a Guide Dog sitting by a bench, smiling.

The team from Mercury IT can attest to the benefits of giving back through their workplace.

After taking part in a Guide Dogs Impact Day, Mercury IT Chief Sales Officer, Sally-Ann Bird said it was a great way to foster team building while also supporting a worthwhile cause.

“The highlight, undoubtedly, was the chance to cuddle with the puppies,” Sally-Ann said.

“We also valued the diverse activities and demonstrations; allowing us to gain understanding into the challenges faced by people with low vision and how our contribution can make a difference.”

Click here to learn more.

A group of people holding puppies in the Guide Dogs nursery.

From vets to Guide Dog Mobility Specialists to Canine Attendants —to name just a few—your support enables a dedicated team of specialists to transform promising puppies into life-changing Guide Dogs.

For Guide Dogs Canine Attendants like Ryan, his job is both a fun and rewarding one.

“What I love most about my role is seeing the joy and the excitement the dogs get from doing different things—whether it’s a walk or free run, a groom or even just enjoying some tasty peanut butter in a frozen Kong,” Ryan said.

“You really see their eyes light up.”

Ryan’s day starts bright and early (Ryan calls it “dog o’clock”), assisting with maintaining high-quality kennel and nursery environments. This is vital to ensure the dogs’ health and well-being are always the top priority.

A canine attendent sitting on the grass with two puppies.

“With beds made and a delicious breakfast done, I then take the pups and dogs for some free time play in the yard—or for the younger ones, it’s a play in the nursery enrichment area.

“Next, we do daily grooming and health checks, and I may also assist with some dog obedience training and puppy development, including attending classes or heading out for some off-site socialisation.”

While it’s certainly a dream job for Ryan and any dog lover, it’s your donations that make it possible to have this passionate team working hard to provide constant care and love to our dogs-in-training. We simply couldn’t do it without you.

To find out more about how you can help sponsor a Guide Dog-in-training or a specialist dog or client support team member like Ryan, please contact Kerry in our Philanthropy Team on 07 3500 9005.