Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs has recognised the over 40 handlers and Seeing Eye Dogs who have been successfully paired together in the past 12 months at its annual Seeing Eye Dog Graduation event on Wednesday, April 27.
Held on International Guide Dog Day, the graduation celebrated handlers and Seeing Eye Dogs from across Australia and the life-changing bond they form.
Forty-eight handlers, aged 14-83, were paired with Seeing Eye Dogs over the past 12 months, making this one of the most successful years in the organisations history.
“Training and developing a Seeing Eye Dog can take up to two years and $50,000, but it’s all made worthwhile when you see the impact a Seeing Eye Dog has,” Lester Chraim, Seeing Eye Dogs client services manager, said
“Many of our handlers struggle with their independence and it’s amazing how a Seeing Eye Dog can help them reclaim that and be so much more active and confident in the community,” Lester said.
One of the Seeing Eye Dogs class of 2022 is Dave Fraser, who was partnered with Seeing Eye Dog Levi.
“Without having Levi I wouldn’t be here, that’s how much he means to me. I went from having low vision to very quickly having no vision,” Dave said.
“Apart from my wife he’s the best thing in my life at the moment. It’s not just a matter of hanging onto the harness of a dog, we become one,” he said.
The ceremony also included a live demonstration of a Seeing Eye Dog in-training navigating Seeing Eye Dogs’ world-first Indoor Mobility Training Centre.
Graduating handlers in attendance were presented with certificates from the Honourable Minister for Child Protection and Family Services and Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers Anthony Carbines MP.
"Seeing Eye Dogs allow so many Victorians the freedom to fully participate in our community – the independence that these new graduates bring can be life-changing" Mr Carbines said.
Other presenters included Kate McCormack from Petbarn and Dr. Chantelle McGowan from Royal Canin.