Guide Dog Tales

Spring 2021 - Full Edition
Image of two yellow puppies and one black puppy in front of spring plants, looking at the camera.

Welcoming spring with the super cute ‘S’ litter!

As we farewell winter, we’re excited for a new season — one filled with hope, community, and of course, playful puppies!

While we can’t know for sure what the future will bring, here at Guide Dogs, we’re incredibly grateful to be able to share so many positive stories of connection and community with you.

It just so happens that on the brink of spring we also welcomed our newest puppies — the ‘S’ litter!

Sarge, Sparky, Steel, Snoopy, Scout, Scarlett and Sashi have officially left the nursery and are out learning with their Puppy Raisers.

We asked Nursery Coordinator Fiona to tell us a little about the beautiful spring litter.

“They’re such a sweet and energetic litter”, Fiona said. “It’s been such a joy to see them grow and it’s very exciting to see them head out with their Puppy Raisers.”

“They’re all cheeky, playful pups and I’m sure they will thrive in their training sessions.”

Image of Fiona holding two puppies in the S litter with another beside her, sitting the puppy play area.

“It’s thanks to your generous donations that these ‘S’ litter puppies are learning the important first skills they need to grow into life changing guide dogs.”

Your unwavering support makes it possible for these pups to be the latest in litter born since we started to experience the impacts of COVID-19 last year.

You have been there for us more than ever, through a challenging 2020 into an exciting 2021. You were there on the ground for our first ever Giving Day, shaking donation buckets at our annual Street Appeal and holding your own local fundraisers out in the community.

Every donation, down to each coin dropped into our iconic collection dogs, makes it possible for these pups to grow into guide dogs. Thank you!

Meet the 'S' litter!

Who helped the dogs out? You!

In April, we put the call out to Queensland to support our first ever Giving Day event. You came out and backed us — showing us everything you’re made of and just how much you truly care.

In the words of one of our newest volunteers Kathleen ‘Lucky’ Luck, “The buzz we had for the whole day was epic! We talked about the event for days afterwards.”

Kathleen put her hand up to help after hearing about Guide Dogs Queensland’s first ever Giving Day.

You may have received a phone call from Kathleen, her colleague Jules, or one of the 120 volunteers and staff who jumped on the phones and reached out to you, our wonderful community, asking for your support.

But it wasn’t just ‘luck’ that helped us reach our goal. We were generously supported by a group of incredible matched donors who made the commitment to quadruple all donations on the day.

Tyler and Fletcher

We are so pleased to announce that you made it happen — together we reached the $1 million target before the final 24-hour buzzer sounded.

“It felt really good to be part of something greater than us. I enjoyed using my time to connect with people I know in the community and learn all the reasons why people support Guide Dogs,” Kathleen said.

Your generosity will now be put into action as we train and raise the next generation of guide dog puppies.

Thank you again to every person who volunteered their time, answered our phone calls, followed the day on social media, popped some coins into our tins in Brisbane City, donated online or shared the message far and wide.

You sure did help the dogs out, thank you!

Technology: your virtual guide dog

Think of technology like a virtual guide dog, it guides our community through simple everyday tasks that we so easily take for granted.

Our new Assistive Technology Specialist Zoe doesn’t let low vision stop her from living a life of freedom. Now she combines her personal experience and her skills to help others find freedom with technology.

“The ability to translate my experience to help others is one of the best tools I can bring,” Zoe said.

“I love seeing the change in people. I work with so many different clients who don’t believe they can do it, only to call me a few days later absolutely ecstatic that they can.”

“Technology can make life easier for everyone, sometimes even more so if you are a person with low vision.

Once people understand the tools available, they can access education, and build connection with friends and family. Technology can make certain parts of life a little easier.”

Thank you. Your generous support helps to remove barriers that people with low vision face every day. Through the use of innovative technology and tools, Queenslanders can find new ways to live life on their terms.

New vets at Guide Dogs!

Behind every life-changing guide dog you help raise is a dedicated team of experts. Thanks to your support, we’re excited to welcome Natalie and Amber to our veterinary team.

For new vets Natalie and Amber, joining the Guide Dogs team is an exciting opportunity to use their skills to help the community.

“I was drawn to the idea of working for such a wonderful charity, and using my skills to give back and help people,” Amber said.

For Natalie, her experience with working dogs provides a great foundation for the role.

“In my spare time I work as a search and rescue canine handler for Queensland Fire and Emergency Services with my two dogs, Falkor and Bourke. I’ve seen first-hand just how important quality care and training is.”

“It’s incredibly satisfying to learn that a dog that you’ve essentially cared for since birth is now out and about doing what it was intended to do,” Natalie said.

Image of our new vets, Amber and Lisa holding young yellow puppies

Amber too is excited to be there for every step of the guide dog journey.

“I’m particularly passionate about preventative care — ensuring all the dogs receive the best medical treatment and care throughout their lives,” Amber said.

Natalie and Amber will work together in the new Guide Dogs vet clinic, using their individual skills to provide the best care to our cohort of working dogs.

“Having the chance to work in such an amazing facility is an added bonus. It means that we’re able to provide top quality care to every single dog in the Guide Dogs colony,” Amber said.

This amazing vet clinic was built in 2019 thanks to generous financial support and has continued to make an incredible impact ever since.

The challenge of a lifetime made possible

Did you ever think your support could stretch right up into the rugged landscape of the Northern Territory? How about to Fraser Island? In May of this year it did just that.

Lisa McEwan and Nicole Forbes didn’t let having low vision stop them from taking on a 65km multi-day fundraising trek along the Larapinta Trail in the Northern Territory.

The five-day trek involved hiking over rough, unstable terrain, crossing flooded creeks up to chest-height and ascending the incredible Mt Sonder by moonlight.

It was the support of people like you, the Guide Dogs community, that empowered them to take on this challenge and embark on a life-changing adventure.

“If I had to pick the best part of it all, it would be sharing this journey with such incredible people. In a few short days, we made friendships that are likely to last a lifetime,” Lisa said.

Lisa and Nicole are supporters themselves, joining a fundraising team who collaboratively raised over $26,000 for Guide Dogs.

While Lisa and Nicole were taking on the Northern Territory, another team was also lacing up their hiking boots to make a difference for Guide Dogs.

This second team, which included eight Guide Dogs supporters, trekked across the iconic sandy terrain of Fraser Island, raising an additional $16,000 to help raise the next generation of life-changing guide dogs.

Image of the group from the Fraser Island Trek.

Taking on these treks isn’t easy, but with community support, anything is possible.

For Lisa and Nicole, it was this support that helped them achieve a feat many thought was impossible.

This is an example of the power of a community, coming together to support people to not only take on challenges, but achieve their dreams along the way.

“We want to thank everyone for all the incredible support. Whether you donated or provided moral support and encouragement.”

“You helped us to make a difference,” Nicole said.

There are many ways you can fundraise for Guide Dogs. We’re always looking for people to join our community of fundraisers.

Taking on new territory together

It’s been two years since you brought together a young woman, Jacinta, with her very first guide dog, Sansa. They have become an awesome team, taking on new challenges together, including a move all the way to the Northern Territory.

We caught up with Jacinta to hear all about the move and how Sansa has been by her side through every challenge and milestone.

Q: Moving from the Sunshine Coast to Alice Springs sounds like a massive adventure. How did you find it?

A: The move was interesting, and I’m not going to sugar coat it – it was really hard for the both of us. I felt like I was in a different world, and without my support network.

Sansa and I worked really hard together. I vowed to give her what she needed and in turn she looked after me. It quickly started to feel like a place where we belonged.

Q: You made the move to Alice Springs to start a new job. What type of work are you doing now?

A: I had been looking for work for over 10 months, after finishing a Master’s degree, and was turned away again and again because I didn’t have a driver’s licence.

I was originally working as a children’s counsellor when I first moved here; now I am working in the same organisation, but as a counsellor for those affected by the Disability Royal Commission.

I love this new role, especially being able to help people navigate the NDIS and tell their story to the commission. It’s powerful stuff.

Q: What does Sansa do while you’re working?

A: As a counsellor, having Sansa by my side is a huge asset. Especially when working with kids – I often take Sansa’s harness off and let people pat her.

She has made a huge difference to people because she is so gentle and brings so much comfort and joy.

The staff at work love her too. She gets so many cuddles throughout the day and I think she makes such a difference to the whole atmosphere.

Q: Each guide dog has such a unique personality. What’s one thing you’ve learnt about Sansa since being together?

A: She amazes me all the time – her memory is incredible. We go somewhere once, and she will remember it straight away – even the guide dog instructor was impressed by this!

She has saved me from being hit by a car on the way to work twice, by deliberately disobeying my command to cross the road. I trust her completely and she keeps me safe and independent.

Sansa has grown so much and I am so proud of her. She tries really hard to do the best job all the time, and I just love her so much.

Q: Our generous community make matching people with guide dogs possible. Can you share with us a little about how Sansa has impacted your life?

A: I can’t really explain with words the role Sansa plays in my life. I actually don’t know what I would do without her. I definitely never would have made the move to Alice Springs if I didn’t have her.

She gave me back the courage I had lost.

I am happy. I have a job that I really like, great friends, and I met my wonderful partner here too. I feel like I have a built a really nice life here, and that is really all thanks to Sansa and the generous people who support Guide Dogs.

Transforming lives in Townsville

People in North Queensland know just how devastating a cyclone can be. For Peter Hicks, it was a cyclone that impacted his vision and changed his life forever.

It was just a typical weekday when Peter Hicks lost his vision.

Peter was out at a jobsite, working on a house that had been damaged in the devastating cyclone that swept through the Airlie Beach community.

He knew mould was a health risk, so made sure he had protective gear to wear while on site. His whole body was covered, except, devastatingly, for his eyes. While he wore a pair of safety glasses, they weren’t goggles.

It took just a moment for the mould spores in the air to enter Peter’s eyes and change his life forever.

Peter was driving home when his eyes simply stopped working. Moments later, his car rolled and he was upside down on a railway line.

Today, two and a half years after the most terrifying moment of his life, Peter has regained minimal vision in his left eye, but his right remains completely blind.

“Losing my vision was extremely confronting. The most helpful thing for me was definitely the support I gained from Guide Dogs,” Peter said.

One of the many ways your donations are put into action is by providing access and services to people where, and when, they need them.

In August, we’ll be officially opening a brand-new Guide Dogs office in Townsville.

Image of peter creating art.

This incredible new facility would still be a sketch on paper without the support of community members like you.

Thanks to your generosity, we can now support even more people in North Queensland to access the services they need.

With this new office, people like Peter will never have to feel alone.

“The opening of this office is excellent. For people in this community, being able to access these services will be incredible and the location is great as well,” Peter said.

Situated in the centre of Townsville, the new office provides a variety of services to the community, including Orientation and Mobility Training, Occupational Therapy, Counselling, and Guide Dogs Mobility Training.

For Peter, he is especially excited about being able to connect with more members of the Guide Dogs community.

“When you lose your sight, it isn’t just about the physical loss. There’s the anxiety and depression that can come with it,” Peter said.

“With this new office, people can come together, connect and get the support we need.”

“I’ve always been creative and I love working on sculptures and a whole range of artworks. I love being able to refurbish the Collection Dogs and give them their own personality.”

Thanks to your incredible support, Peter and many more people throughout North Queensland can now access greater support to stay connected with their community and achieve their goals.

Fred’s lucky charm

For Fred Tarry, Guide Dog Ripley is far more than a way to help him navigate through life safely.

Fred calls Ripley his lucky charm because she has been by his side for three years as he bowls competitively.

Recently, Fred took out gold and silver at the 2021 National Blind Bowls Championship.

Ripley, of course, was by his side every step of the way and Fred wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Ripley is absolutely fantastic. I couldn’t get through life without her support,” Fred said.

Thank you for helping make partnerships like Fred and Ripley’s possible.

PAWGUST

Participants nearing the finish line!

PAWGUST is a fun, yet challenging, annual event that encourages people and their pooches to walk 30 minutes a day for 30 days during August to raise funds for Guide Dogs!

Thank you to our amazing 2021 PAWGUST participants (all 17,200 of you!) for braving the cold and putting paws to the pavement in the name of fundraising.

The funds you are raising during PAWGUST will help our goal to create a world where everyone who needs a guide dog, has a guide dog.

The end of August is nearly here so if you’d like to suppawt this year’s challengers, including Queenslander Sue and her Guide Dog Vegas or perhaps start planning to take part in 2022, visit pawgust.com.au.

Confidence and connection at camp

Low vision and blindness don’t discriminate by age. More often than you may realise, our youngest community members are also affected.

With low vision, simply finding a seat on the school bus or choosing your lunch in the crowded line at the tuckshop can be incredibly stressful and confronting.

For twelve-year-old Georgia, being born deaf and later diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa means she must navigate life a little differently to her peers.

In July, she attended a Guide Dogs Mobility Camp with three other kids her age.

“Some of my favourite activities on camp were self defence training and and playing goalball with my new friends. I also became friends with a girl named Lara and we agreed to stay in touch after camp,” Georgia said.

Image of child throwing a ball

These camps are an invaluable chance for children to interact with people their own age, with similar vision conditions, while building important life-skills and having fun along the way.

Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Brenda, works closely with children all across Queensland, and knows just how important this support is.

“Early intervention is the cornerstone to living an independent life. With the support of the community, we can empower children to be able to do anything they want to do.”

Thanks to you, Georgia and children like her can grow up and explore the world just like everyone else.

Generous grant connects Queenslanders

Last Christmas, the Brisbane Room at City Hall was adorned in tinsel and decorations for the first ever Guide Dogs Client Christmas High Tea.

The festive event was made possible thanks to a generous grant from The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Trust.

Focused on supporting local and grassroots charities, The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Trust has been a dedicated supporter of Guide Dogs since 2014.

Thanks to their generosity, 27 members of the Guide Dogs community were able to come together to chat, share stories and enjoy a delicious high tea while enjoying classical music.

The participants were serenaded by Tony Dee, a musician who plays beautiful, classical music from his wheelchair.

The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Trust also recently funded the purchase of five MiniGuide mobility devices for Queenslanders unable to access NDIS or government funding.

Image of a lady with a guide dog at the client Christmas party

You may have never heard of this trusty device, but MiniGuides are an invaluable tool for empowering people with low vision and blindness. Small and discreet, they fit in the palm of the hand and through the use of vibrations, can help the user navigate doorways, trees, lampposts and other unexpected obstacles.

This can give someone a renewed sense of confidence to get back out in busy spaces and explore new locations.

These are only two of the many ways The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Trust has supported Guide Dogs over the years. The impact they have had on supporting people to live life the way they want is undeniable.

Without Grant funding and major gifts, Guide Dogs wouldn’t be able to offer invaluable opportunities for connection and critical programs to Queenslanders with low vision and blindness.

If you’re interested in finding out how you can lend your support in this way, please call Kerry on 07 3500 9001.

Sally and Toby’s Story

When Sally’s beloved dog, Toby, suffered a ruptured stomach ulcer, she rushed him to the vet for emergency surgery.

Thankfully, Sally didn’t have to worry about the cost of the surgery as she’d taken out pet insurance for her beloved Toby. It gave her absolute peace of mind.

Have you considered taking out insurance for your pet? When your beloved pet is unwell the last burden you want to face is the stress of vet bills. By choosing to insure your pet through Guide Dogs Pet Insurance you can benefit from the following:

  • Get back up to 85% of eligible vet bills
  • Claim up to $20,000 per year2
  • Support the work of Guide Dogs.

Not only are you receiving peace of mind, you are also choosing to make a difference in someone’s life. By insuring your pet, you are supporting Guide Dogs to provide vital services to Australians living with low vision or blindness.

Find out more about protecting your furry family members at guidedogsinsurance.org.au

Image of Sally and Toby

Terms and Conditions

  • Pre-existing conditions and certain illnesses are excluded. Benefit percentage varies based on the level of cover selected. Claim for reimbursement.
  • Terms, conditions, exclusions, benefit limits, sub-limits and annual condition limits may apply. Claimable limit varies based on the level of cover selected. Eligible vet bills only.

Please consider the Policy booklet which contains the PDS and FSG, available at guidedogsinsurance.org.au. Guide Dogs Pet Insurance is issued by The Hollard Insurance Company Pty Ltd (ABN 78 090 584 473, AFSL 241436), distributed by Greenstone Financial Services Pty Ltd (ABN 53 128 692 884, AFSL 343079), and is arranged and administered through PetSure (Australia) Pty Ltd ABN (95 075 949 923, AFSL 420183).

A partnership to advance generations of guide dogs

Here at Guide Dogs, we have fed our dogs ADVANCE™ Australian-made dog food since 2004 – from Puppy Raising and training, through to graduation. We know our dogs are getting the best possible food to maintain their health and energy so they are ready to take on the exciting adventures that every day brings.

Labradors are highly motivated by food rewards, so our Guide Dog Trainers use ADVANCE™ kibble to reward dogs during training activities. This reinforces good behaviours and lets them know when they have done a particularly good job.

Image of a white puppy sitting next to a bag of Advance dog food and in front of a bowl of dog food.

Help support Queenslanders with low vision or blindness today!

Make a donation

Thank you for your generous support!

Honnie changed everything for Arthur.

Will you help someone waiting for their perfect Guide Dog?