Puppy Graduation 2023!
On Wednesday 29 March our community gathered to celebrate the Graduation of the FGHI Litter. More than 300 dedicated supporters joined us at the National Wine Centre to congratulate our newly matched clients and graduating dogs.
We were thrilled to welcome many of our Puppy Pals, Buddies for Life, Major Donors, Corporate Supporters and Board Members, along with special guests The Hon Nat Cook, Minister for Human Services, Erin Thompson, Member for Davenport, and Jack Batty MP, Shadow Assistant Minister to the Leader of the Opposition.
Aaron Chia, Chief Executive Officer of Guide Dogs SA/NT, was proud to present the graduating litter.
“We are excited to share with you this milestone in the FGHI Litter’s journey.
Two years ago, we introduced these small, cuddly puppies, and today they are graduating as life-changing companions,” said Aaron.
John Oliver, Chair of the Board, noted that Puppy Graduation is an incredible occasion and a cause for celebration.
“Our Guide Dogs, Assistance Dogs, and Facility Dogs enable independence, participation, inclusion and wellbeing for people with low vision, blindness and other specialised support needs.
Thanks to the kindness of our supporters, we are able to change and improve the lives of our clients and their families through our dogs and other services,” said John.
Our guests were able to hear firsthand about the enormous investment of time, care and dedication needed for our puppies to grow and embark on a special partnership with their handler.
Cecilia, one of our Puppy Training Advisors, and Taylor, one of our Guide Dog Mobility Instructors, explained the type of training our puppies go through, the behaviours and qualities they look for, and some of the common challenges they experience when working with our puppies-in-training.
Our first graduate, Assistance Dog Sonny, was recently matched with six-year-old George. George lives with autism; he has no understanding of danger, limited communication, and struggles with transitions from activity to activity, or sometimes simply moving from room to room. Since being paired with Sonny six months ago, everything has changed for George and his family.
“Having Sonny in our family has been life-changing. We have been able to do so much more as a family and we’re looking forward to saying ‘yes’ to more,” said Belinda.
Our next graduate, Guide Dog Fargo, has moved to Mount Gambier with his new handler, Raelene. The audience was delighted to hear about Fargo’s new adventures, especially his first flight.
Our next graduate, Guide Dog Floyd, was a fan-favourite as our Dogalogue cover star but now he is excited to start his new career as a Guide Dog with his handler Lisa.
Our fourth graduate, Guide Dog Gwen, is a real “people dog” and is thrilled to have her very own human, her handler Claire, who she is excited to guide on their journey together.
Our final graduate of the day was Guide Dog Jordie. Jordie was unable to attend our graduation ceremony, but is happily breathing in the country air in Kadina with his new handler, Neil.
While we were thrilled to be celebrating the accomplishments of the FGHI Litter and their training buddies, we also took a moment to recognise the passing of Zero, one of our Facility Dogs who worked at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions as a Canine Court Companion.
During his working life, Zero provided much needed support to over 300 child and adolescent victims and witnesses involved in the criminal justice system. Zero, often affectionately called ‘Zero the Hero’, sadly passed away last year, shortly after retiring. We will always remember Zero and the great impact he made.
Now the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is joined by Zeb, who joined us with his handlers. As a Canine Court Companion, Zeb has been specially trained to provide comfort and support for vulnerable witnesses and victims of crime. Thank you, Zeb, for what you do to support the community.
Our Puppy Graduation was a wonderful opportunity to come together to celebrate Fargo, Floyd, Gwen, Jordie and Sonny and their new careers as Guide and Assistance Dogs.
We were also very excited to introduce our newest puppies-in-training, the J and K Training Group!
Our J and K Training Group consists of 12 puppies who were born in Victoria and New South Wales and recently made the big journey to Adelaide to start their very important training.
Our J puppies are Jax, Jersey, Jester and Jarby, who was named by our friends at Bank SA. Our K puppies are Kansas, Kenzi, Kora, Kato, Kira, Kipper who was named by Showcase SA, Koda who was named by ABC Adelaide, and Kween who was named by the Adelaide Fringe.
We were pleased to introduce two of the puppies, Jersey and Kansas, on stage. Guests were also able to meet Jarby and Kween after the ceremony.
These 12 adorable puppies are just beginning their journey to become Guide, Assistance or Facility Dogs thanks to the support of their generous Puppy Pals.
If you would like to support the J & K Training Group’s journey, you can sign up as a Puppy Pal here.
We are grateful to our guests for joining us for this special day and extend our thanks to the National Wine Centre for their generous support.