Graduating Guide Dogs presented with their first harness in Port Macquarie | Guide Dogs NSW/ACT

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15 August, 2018

Graduating Guide Dogs presented with their first harness in Port Macquarie

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Training Team with the graduate Guide Dogs at the Guide Dogs Centre all sitting in a row

Today is a proud day for five Graduating Guide Dogs as they received their very first harness at a special Guide Dog NSW/ACT ceremony in Port Macquarie after completing five months of intensive training at the Guide Dog Centre.

This is the first time a Guide Dog presentation ceremony has taken place in the Mid North Coast which is an exciting way to mark the conclusion of Guide Dog Training and the start of the next chapter where these life-changing Guide Dogs will be matched with a person who is blind or living with sight loss.

Meet the Guide Dog Graduates

Five Graduating Guide Dogs sitting down next to eachother wearing their Guide Dog Training harnesses

The five graduating Guide Dogs include two black dogs Yetta and Yorric, and three yellow dogs named Spotto, Zack and York.

Each of these incredible dogs has learnt the skills to safely assist and guide a person living with vision impairment.

“We have a wonderful group of Guide Dogs graduating who will soon be matched with a person in the community who is vision impaired and waiting for a Guide Dog. Once they are matched, we spend several weeks working closely with the person and their Guide Dog to ensure they form a strong bond of trust, and the handler has knowledge and skills to work with and care for the dog,”
- Jeremy Hill, Team Manager for Guide Dogs NSW/ACT’s Mid North Coast office

Class of August 2018

Life before Graduation

Before undergoing intensive training at the Guide Dogs Centre, each Guide Dog was cared for by volunteer Puppy Raisers in their loving home environments from eight weeks of age until 14 months. During this time, the Puppy Raisers give the dogs a lot of love and affection as well as the opportunity to familiarise itself with the sights and sounds of everyday encounters. They are also taught basic obedience with the guidance and support of the Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Team through regular training sessions.

“It takes more than $50,000 to breed, raise and train each Guide Dog so the presentation is a celebration of the dedicated training over the past two years to get these life-changing dogs to the all-important working stage of their life,”
- Jeremy Hill 

Find out more about Puppy Raising here >

The Graduation Ceremony

Guide Dog being presented with his first harness at the graduation ceremony
Graduating Guide Dogs standing with their Guide Dog Trainers

The special presentation in Port Macquarie gave attendees the opportunity to watch the Guide Dogs demonstrate their new skills, enjoy a Puppy Pre-School session, meet a new litter of Labrador puppies and hear from Guide Dog handlers about how their lives have changed for the better.

Guide Dog handler, Angela Allen, who is a motivational speaker for Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, spoke about the positive impact her Guide Dog Piper has made in her life.

Guide Dog Handler Angela talks at the Port Macquarie Presentation

“Piper is so much more than a mobility aid and much loved companion,” Angela said. “Piper has changed my world in countless ways and I look forward to sharing an insight into our life as a Guide Dog team”.

Guide Dogs supporter being kissed by a little golden labrador puppy

Among the attendees were the incredible volunteer Puppy Raisers, local Port Macquarie based Guide Dog clients and supporters.

The Next Chapter

Guide Dog giving a supporter a kiss on the cheek

Every day in Australia, 28 people are diagnosed with vision loss that cannot be corrected, including nine who will become blind.

“With the demand for Guide Dogs’ services increasing due to growing numbers of people having trouble getting around as a result of sight loss, we’re incredibly grateful for the support we receive from the community,” Jeremy said.

All Guide Dogs NSW/ACT services are provided at no cost to clients so this day would not have been possible without the support from our donors and volunteers. These graduate Guide Dogs will now give the invaluable gift of freedom to a person living with sight loss and we give a big thank you to everyone that has helped us along this journey.