Leanne Duggan sits on a bend with her Guide Dog Gabby, a black Labrador, sits beside her

On Thursday 14 September, two very special four-legged guests visited Wahroonga Public School. They were the current and retired Guide Dogs of Leanne Duggan, who attended the school’s assembly to say ‘thank you’ for their $500 donation to Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.

Ms Duggan is currently working with her fourth Guide Dog, a beautiful black Lab named Esther. Her previous Guide Dog, a yellow Lab named Gabby, is now retired and being cared for by the family of a student at the school.

“My old Guide Dog Gabby is enjoying a lovely life of leisure with the Howes family, whose daughter attends Wahroonga Public,” Ms Duggan explained.

“The Howes family are doing a wonderful job taking care of Gabby in her retirement. She swims in their pool every day and goes everywhere with them. They love her dearly and are really part of the family.” 

As Ms Duggan has maintained a close relationship with the Howes family, the two life-changing Labradors have formed a close bond.  

“The Howes family will sometimes look after Esther for me, when the need arises. Gabby and Esther get along great and they love spending time together,” Ms Duggan said.

“I think it’s special that the students had the chance to meet my previous and my current Guide Dog. It was great to speak with them about the benefits of having a Guide Dog and what a difference they can make to the life of someone who is blind or vision impaired.”

Ms Duggan said she also thanked the students at Wahroonga Public School for their generous support.

“When the students did something well at school they were given a token, which they could place in one of three boxes in reception. They had the option of voting for a mufti day, a ‘no paper & pens’ day, or for the school to donate $500 to Guide Dogs. They chose to donate and to do something selfless, which is really fantastic,” Ms Duggan said.

As Guide Dogs NSW/ACT receives less than 2 per cent of their funding from the government, it relies on the generosity of the community to continue to provide services at no cost to those who need them. 

“It’s thanks to donations like these that Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has been able to provide me with each of my four Guide Dogs,” Ms Duggan said. 

“I received first Guide Dog when I was 24 years old. Each of my Guide Dogs has been an exceptional worker and they’ve all allowed me to live an active and independent life.”

Ms Duggan lives in the city and works full-time as a senior case worker in the Domestic Violence Unit of NSW Family and Community Services.

It takes over two years and costs most than $35,000 to breed, raise and train one Guide Dog.