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Sponsor a Puppy

your monthly support will help more puppies get a head start on becoming Guide Dogs

Learn more

Have you seen our TV ad?

sponsor a puppy today

Learn more

Our story

In 1950, Dr. Arnold Cook arrived in Australia with the country’s first Guide Dog. A young West Australian, Arnold lost his sight at the age of 18 through a rare disease.

Arnold became familiar with Guide Dogs after travelling to England to study at the London School of Economics. He trained at Britain’s Guide Dog Association and was paired with a black Labrador named Dreana.

An elderly client sitting down and smiling front on at the camera with her arm around her yellow Guide Dog.

Early beginnings

Arnold and Dreana created enormous interest upon their return to Australia. Unsurprisingly, many other West Australians with low vision were eager to partner with a Guide Dog, and a year later the first Guide Dog Association was formed in Perth.

By 1957 there were Guide Dog Associations in each state.

Close up of yellow Labrador puppy asleep.

Through the decades: the 1950s

1950: Arnold Cook returns to Australia with his UK-trained Guide Dog ‘Dreena’. Arnold Cook was the first Guide Dog handler in Australia.

1951: Guide Dogs for the Blind Association is established in Perth, with financial assistance from the Claremont Apex Club.

1952: ‘Beau’, the first Australian-trained Guide Dog, is matched with a handler, Mrs Elsie Mead.

1957: Guide Dogs for the Blind Association of New South Wales is formed, along with a new national Guide Dogs association.

Son riding a bike with his Father and their golden labrador on a a leash beside the.

Through the decades: 1960s

1962: Guide Dogs are permitted to travel inside planes.

1964: Jim Jones was appointed the first full-time secretary, organiser of Guide Dogs for the Blind Association of NSW.

1966: The addition of mobility aids to the provision of Guide Dogs necessitated extra staff numbers and an increase in fundraising activity.

Yellow, black and yellow puppies lying asleep side-by-side

Through the decades: 1970s

1973: Juliet Jones was appointed our first Australian-trained Orientation & Mobility Instructor.

1979: At the request of clients, we changed our name to Guide Dogs Association of New South Wales, reflecting the fact that not all people with low vision are blind.

A client and their black Guide Dog looking at each other.

Through the decades: 1980s

1984: Therapy Dogs Program, a community service providing companion dogs for people who may have limited social contact due to disability, age or ill health, is launched.

Mother labrador looking to the camera with her 6 puppies asleep in front of her.

Through the decades: 1990s

1991: NSW and ACT Associations merge to become the Guide Dogs Association of New South Wales and ACT.

1999: The Association, in conjunction with the University of Newcastle, develops a new course for the training of Orientation & Mobility Instructors.

Two young girls selling cupcakes at a stall.

Through the decades: 2000s

2000: The new state-of-the-art Guide Dogs Centre at Glossodia is opened by the Governor of New South Wales.

2003:  The company is renamed Guide Dogs NSW/ACT to reflect current thinking and style, and moves its head office to Chatswood.

2009: The Centre for Eye Health, an initiative of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and The University of New South Wales, is opened by the Governor of New South Wales.

Graduate Guide Dogs sitting on the across the floor outside, with harnesses on.

Through the decades: 2010s

2012: A puppy breeding program is established to enhance control of Guide Dog quality and graduate numbers.

2017: Guide Dogs NSW/ACT celebrated 60 years of assisting people with low vision and blindness, enhancing independence and mobility through world-class service provision.

A young client holding hands with a friend and playing outdoors.