Dogs With Jobs: Guide Dogs
As dog lovers, we know that the bond we share with our four-legged friends is priceless. They shower us with unconditional love and affection, and there’s always a special lick to share if we’re feeling low.
But some dogs go above and beyond for their humans.
Guide Dogs, Assistance Dogs, and Facility Dogs have an incredible temperament and the specialised training required to enrich the lives of their handlers, with the bond between the pair being an intense, affectionate relationship defined by trust, love, and interdependence.
Depending on the career these dogs choose, Guide Dogs will assist a client to walk safely, confidently and independently, Assistance Dogs may provide safety for a child with autism, as well as making outings and activities more possible and less stressful for all and Facility Dogs provide physical and emotional support for in various care, education and public facilities such as an Airport or Court.
These incredible dogs are all bred through the Guide Dogs puppy nursing program and start their lives with experienced puppy raisers who care for them and teach them the training basics.
At approximately 12-18 months of age, the pups are introduced to expert trainers from Guide Dogs, who assess them, looking for the traits that will make them the perfect candidate to become a Guide, Assistance, or Facility Dog.
Guide Dogs SA/NT carefully select and match each Guide Dog to complement their client’s characteristics and specific needs, creating a unique bond and meaningful relationship between the pair.
At Bow Wow Dog Treats, we wanted to learn more about the amazing companionship and support these pups provide their humans. Through our
recent partnership with Guide Dogs SA/NT, we’ve been lucky enough to learn about a recent Guide Dog graduate, Rocket, and his two-legged
best friend, Alana.
Meet Alana and Rocket
Alana and Rocket are the epitome of a match made in heaven!
For Alana, having Rocket come into her life in November 2021 has provided a ray of light for this amazing young lady in many ways.
Having been born with less than five per cent usable vision and oculocutaneous albinism, a rare genetic condition affecting her vision, Alana has had to overcome many challenges in her life.
Before Rocket entered her life, Alana navigated the world using a white cane, which she had been taught to use through the support of the Guide Dogs team. While this opened up many possibilities, Alana always knew that even more possibilities and opportunities could be realised with the assistance of a Guide Dog.
When Alana turned 18, a life-changing milestone was reached - she could be partnered with a Guide Dog!
Enter Rocket, Alana’s biggest supporter, best friend and loyal companion. Theirs is a relationship founded on mutual love, affection and fast walking.
Now a student at the University of Adelaide, Alana enjoys the competitive nature of sports such as Athletics and Goalball and shooting in her spare time. Navigating the world with Rocket by her side has also helped lower Alana’s anxiety as she first embarked on university life.
“Having Rocket has made an enormous difference in my life”, says Alana. “I wouldn’t leave the house nearly as much. If I didn’t have Rocket, I would have chosen to study online at home and would miss out on so much.”
Taylor, a Senior Guide Dog Orientation and Mobility Instructor from Guide Dogs SA/NT, worked closely with Alana and Rocket as they solidified their partnership. She supported the duo as they progressed through initial training, learning to catch public transport and then navigating the university campus.
“Alana and Rocket complement each other perfectly. I knew straight away that Rocket was the perfect dog for Alana. He’s quiet, calm and focused, but he clearly understands when work has finished and can be very cheeky.”
And for the final word on the bond between the pair, we’ll leave that to Alana.
“It was clear that Rocket was the perfect Guide Dog for me from the start,” says Alana. “He’s so affectionate. He leans on me and provides reassurance. He’s also the perfect match for me, as we’re both very fast walkers!”
At Bow Wow Dog Treats, we’re thrilled to be partnering with Guide Dogs SA/NT and can’t wait to bring you more heart-warming stories about the incredible assistance and support these super pups provide in the future.