International Guide Dog Day 2023

26 Apr 2023


International Guide Dog Day 2023

We already know dogs are our best friends, and to so many, they are also a lifeline to being able to live an independent life. Today, the 26th of April is International Guide Dog Day, a day to celebrate the important role Guide Dogs play in supporting people all around the world with low vision or blindness to achieve their goals and live independently. These furry friends provide independence, mobility, and companionship, making it easier for people with disabilities to confidently navigate their daily lives.

Guide Dogs are specially trained to assist their handlers by guiding them around obstacles, avoiding dangers, and leading them to their desired destinations. These dogs are trained to be calm and focused in a variety of situations, including crowded streets, busy intersections, and public transportation. They also help their handlers with everyday tasks, such as finding doors, locating objects, and navigating unfamiliar areas.

International Guide Dog Day is an opportunity to celebrate the incredible bond between guide dogs and their handlers. It is a day to honour the hard work and dedication of Guide Dog organisations, trainers, and volunteers who work tirelessly to provide these amazing animals to people who need them.

While guide dogs are well-trained, it is important for the public to understand that they are not pets, but rather highly skilled working animals. It is important to respect their roles and to avoid distracting or petting them while they are working. By doing so, we can ensure that Guide Dogs are able to do their jobs safely and effectively.

Follow these tips for how you should interact with a guide dog:

1. Guide Dogs should not be the centre of attention, which means no patting or touching.

2. Never grab a person with a Guide Dog or their dog’s harness. Ask if a person needs assistance, don’t assume.

3. If you are providing guiding assistance, walk on the opposite side of the Guide Dog.

4. Make sure your animals are always controlled when near Guide Dogs. When approaching someone it may be helpful to let them know you have an animal.

5. Contact the council immediately if you see or find a loose Guide Dog.

6. Guide Dogs are allowed anywhere their handler is allowed; this is Australian law.

Have you ever been denied entry into a café or told you couldn’t stay at a hotel? Have you been refused access to public transport or denied a ride with a rideshare partner? We would say probably not, but this is not uncommon for a person with a Guide Dog. It shouldn’t be this way, in a privileged country like Australia, in 2023, or anywhere for that matter! Guide Dogs can legally go anywhere their handlers can. There is still so much work to do to make our society more accessible for people with disability, from the attitudes people have to the physical landscape of our communities and public spaces.

We are very lucky at Pathways to Care to be regularly visited by Jesse, a retired dog. Jesse belongs to Ivan, our System Administrator. She was a breeding dog for Seeing Eye Dogs (which is a division of Vision Australia) due to her favourable characteristics. Some of her puppies have become breeding dogs themselves (one of them Natasha, also visits!). Other pups of Jesse’s have gone on to become Seeing Eye Dogs, actively supporting people with limited or no vision.

International Guide Dog Day is an important day to recognise the incredible impact that Guide Dogs have on the lives of their handlers. These animals provide a vital service, enabling people with disabilities to live independent, full lives. It is a day to celebrate the remarkable work of organisations, trainers, handlers and volunteers who are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of others. If you are able to donate to Guide Dogs Australia, please do so! Every dollar counts. After all, did you know, the cost of breeding, raising, and training just one puppy is $50,000?! If you would like to donate, you can here, or if you would like to donate to Seeing Eye Dogs (that doesn't receive the same amount of government funding Guide Dogs Australia does) click here