Guide Dogs celebrate 60-years

IT was a furry celebration at Government House in late April when clients, supporters, volunteers, staff and dogs from Guide Dogs Tasmania took a walk down memory lane in celebration of the organisation’s 60th anniversary.

Coinciding with International Guide Dog Day on 26 April, the event recognised the formation of the National Association of Guide Dogs for the Blind Australia, now more succinctly known as Guide Dogs Australia.

Featuring displays of archived books, photos and a pup parade showcasing all 16 current puppies in the program, the event was an opportunity to look back on the history of Guide Dogs in Tasmania and celebrate how far the organisation has come.

Vice president of the Guide Dogs Tasmania Board Scott Marston said the organisation had seen many changes since it was formed by Apex at the Scottsdale Zone Convention 60-years-ago.

“Despite all these changes, our vision remains the same and that is to continue changing lives with our dogs,” he said.

“We understand that it is only through committed staff, donors, supporters and volunteers that we are able to do this and have been able to do so for the past 60-years.”

The first Guide Dog to be trained in Tasmania was Rumpus, a black Labrador who was handled by George Granger, chief telephonist with the Hydro-Electric Commission in Hobart.

Mr Marston said that since 1957, Guide Dogs Australia had placed hundreds of Guide Dogs with people who were blind or vision impaired.

“With the total number of Australians living with vision impairment or blindness currently resting at more than 450,000, it is important that we can continue to train these amazing dogs and support even more people,” he said.

In Tasmania, six to eight puppies are placed each year with volunteer puppy raisers until they are ready to begin their formal training.

There are currently 20 working Guide Dogs in Tasmania.

“Just as there have been many changes over the past 60-years, Guide Dogs Tasmania continues to expand and take the lead when it comes to providing services to the community,” Mr Marston said.

“A prime example of this is the introduction of a Companion and Therapy Dog program, which will ensure that 100 per cent of our dogs are put into service and continue to change lives.”

For more information about Guide Dogs Tasmania, visit https://guidedogstas.com.au.

Caption: Tasmania Governor Kate Warner with Guide Dogs Tasmania staff, clients, volunteers, supporters and guests at the organisation’s 60th anniversary celebrations at Government House on 26 April.

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