International Guide Dog Day: celebrating our furry friends making a difference

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Imagine that you are blindfolded.

You are walking down a busy street. Obstacles clutter the footpath. Pedestrians whiz past you and brush your sides. Many are looking down at their phones, not watching where they are walking.

Random poles, chairs, sandwich boards, and bins rise up from the ground to painfully greet your shins and nose. Let’s just hope there isn’t a pothole up ahead – I’m not sure that your ankles could handle that one.

You need to cross the road soon, which means walking into a stream of honking cars and speeding cyclists. You shuffle along the edge of the road, feeling for the curb. Some crosswalks have audible cues for when it is safe to walk. Others don’t – are you ready to take that bet?

There are over 450,000 people in Australia with low vision or blindness. Every day, guide dogs help thousands of these people navigate the world freely and independently.

Guide dogs change lives

Paul Larcombe walks with his guide dog under arches covered in vines.
For Paul Larcombe, his guide dog has enabled him to live a full life as an academic.

It’s amazing the difference that four paws, a wet nose, and a wagging tail can make. These furry friends are more than companions – they’re life changers.

With job titles ranging from ‘friend,’ to ‘freedom-creator,’ to ‘obstacle-avoider,’ their unique skills and intelligence help people live their life safely and confidently to the fullest.

The relationship between a guide dog and their human is like none other – it’s a case of teamwork at its best. Guide dogs aren’t taxi drivers – they can’t tell you when it’s safe to cross the street, what a sign says, or know exactly where you want to go. But they can empower people with vision loss to actively and independently participate in their communities

Whether it’s navigating crowded areas, helping someone use the stairs at work, finding the mailbox or bus stop, or answering commands like, “Find the door,” it’s clear that guide dogs’ life-changing support makes an immeasurable difference in the lives of people with vision loss.

Undoubtedly, guide dogs have one of the most important jobs in the world, and a lot of work goes into making this job possible.

29th April is International Guide Dog Day

Throughout our over 30 years helping people with disability find employment, we’ve seen first-hand the impact that a guide dog can have on someone’s life.

This International Guide Dog Day, we’re taking the time to encourage the community to get involved with the service and help change someone’s life.

An insurmountable amount of work goes into raising and training these service dogs. International Guide Dog Day is an opportunity to raise awareness for all of the dedicated workers who are committed to transforming the lives of people with vision impairment or blindness.

Behind every guide dog is an even greater team of supporters. Guide dog training certainly doesn’t happen overnight. From puppy raisers, to trainers, to donors and volunteers, training is a time-consuming and expensive process. It can take up to two years and cost more than $30,000 to breed, raise, and fully train a single guide dog.

And it’s never too late to get involved in this process. Are you ready to change someone’s life?

Isabella Allen, guide dog and representative from Guide Dogs Australia
EPIC Assist helped Isabella Allen land a job as a legal officer at Gold Coast University Hospital. As a blind woman with a guide dog, Isabella believes she often represents ‘the great unknown’ to employers.

EPIC Assist – your local disability employment service

We’re committed to helping people with disability find and maintain meaningful employment, and we’ve been doing it for 30 years.

We know that too often, people with disability are underestimated and not expected to achieve highly in society. We’re passionate about raising expectations for people with disability and supporting them on their journey to employment.

If you have a disability, injury, mental health condition, or health condition, get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you reach your employment goals.

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