Year of the Dog: our highlights of 2018

December 21, 2018
Three women wearing black Guide Dogs SA/NT uniforms sitting down holding Yellow Labrador puppies in their laps

Did you know 2018 is the Year of the Dog? Of course, at Guide Dogs SA/NT, it's always the year of the dog! But this has truly been a momentous year for our dogs, clients, volunteers and staff.

While too much has happened to cover in just one blog post, we've selected some of our favourite moments from the past 12 months for reflection and celebration.

Adelaide's Young Citizen of the Year, Chelsea Bartlett

Guide Dogs SA/NT client and volunteer, Chelsea, began the year in style when she was awarded the City of Adelaide's Young Citizen of the Year! At a ceremony at Adelaide Town Hall in January, the Right Honourable Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Martin Haese, commended Chelsea for 'her positive professionalism and achievements, which exemplify inclusion, determination and opportunity for all young people.' Congratulations, Chelsea!

Guide Dogs SA/NT Paws Parade for International Guide Dog Day

Friday 27 April was an opportunity to honour the life-changing contribution of Guide Dogs, Autism Assistance Dogs and Therapy Dogs with our annual Paws Parade for International Guide Dog Day. Following the parade, we held a morning tea and awards ceremony in the Governor's Gardens where we presented Friends of Guide Dogs awards to businesses and public services that displayed exceptional service and inclusion for people accompanied by our Guide Dogs, Autism Assistance Dogs or puppies-in-training.

Celebrating the A Litter's graduation

When the amazing A Litter - Alaska, Atticus, Alvin, Apollo, Astra, Ace, and Aura - graduated at a ceremony at Hotel Grand Chancellor in June, we celebrated the end of their Puppy Development program and wished them all the best for their exciting future! We also introduced some of our recently matched client-dog teams, including Bob and Ocker, and debuted the seven adorable puppies who make up the E Litter, just as they began their journey towards becoming Guide Dogs, Autism Assistance Dogs and Therapy Dogs.

Paws hit the pavement for PAWGUST

This year, our national fundraising campaign, PAWGUST, challenged Australians to walk their dogs for 30 minutes for 30 days and ask their friends, families and networks to sponsor them. The campaign engaged more than 650 South Australians and raised over $60,000 for Guide Dogs SA/NT. On a national level, more than 5,000 people and dogs participated, raising in excess of $590,000. It was so successful that pre-registration for PAWGUST 2019 is already open!

White Cane Day campaign educates the community

October marked the launch of our nationwide public awareness campaign for International White Cane Day featuring Guide Dogs SA/NT client, Sarah. According to research conducted by Guide Dogs organisations across Australia, two-thirds of people who use white canes have been grabbed or handled by a member of the public even though they didn't ask for help. This campaign received national print and radio coverage and reminded the community how they can best assist people with a white cane to navigate public spaces safely and independently: 'Just ask first'.

Developing Life Skills for greater independence

If you ask our Vision Services team for their favourite time of year, they'll tell you it's our annual Life Skills Camp! In October, a group of young clients living with vision impairment enjoyed activities like visiting South Australian Police and Adelaide Zoo, shopping, cooking and preparing meals, navigating public transport, and exploring art, technology and accessibility. The camp is all about supporting children and teens living with vision impairment to develop skills for independent living, form positive friendships and have fun during the school break.

Recognising the contributions of our long-serving volunteers

In December, we hosted a festive lunch at the Arkaba Hotel to celebrate the incredible impact volunteers have made on Guide Dogs SA/NT throughout 2018. This was a perfect opportunity to welcome our new honorary life members, Neil Cundy and Bruce Ind, in recognition of their valued support and service. We also presented certificates of appreciation to those who have contributed 5, 10 or 15 years of service to Guide Dogs SA/NT.

Announcing a new partnership with Adelaide Oval

Just last week, we shared the news that Guide Dogs SA/NT has been chosen as Adelaide Oval's new charity partner! This exciting opportunity means for the next two years, we have a unique platform to raise funds and awareness of our work. To celebrate, state blind cricketer and Guide Dogs SA/NT client, Arron, stepped onto Adelaide Oval with his Guide Dog, Helix. Arron said, 'This partnership combines two things I really love: Guide Dogs, who have helped me so much, and cricket which is a big part of my life.'

As these achievements highlight, 2018 held many milestones for our clients, dogs, volunteers and staff. Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of our community so thank you!

2019 promises to be another exciting year as we continue working to enhance independence, participation, inclusion and wellbeing for our clients at every stage of life.

From all of us here at Guide Dogs SA/NT, we wish you a peaceful and happy festive season.

See our slideshow for more favourite moments from the Year of the Dog!