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Guide Dog graduates make the grade

Posted: 8am 04 Nov 2020

Deception Bay’s Tyler Okamura has celebrated the official graduation of his Guide Dog Fletcher.

Having undergone two years of extensive training, Fletcher joined 14 other four-legged graduates and their partners at a special ceremony recognising their achievements.

Tyler is grateful his retired dog Hamish and Fletcher have become firm friends and says Fletcher has settled into his new role.

Fletcher settles in

“It’s worked out so well with Fletcher,” he says.

“It’s been fantastic, just being able to get to and from work easily and knowing that I have the confidence to get out and about.”

Diagnosed with a condition called Alstrom syndrome, Tyler relies on Fletcher to help him navigate from place to place independently.

“We travel together for work and fitness. Anywhere I want to go, I will go with Fletcher,” Tyler says.

“I always get comments on how pretty he looks!”

Time for fun

Tyler says Fletcher takes his duties very seriously, but also finds time for fun when he’s not working.

“Like any other dog, he loves to play and as soon as you take his harness off, his fun personality comes out,” he says.

Guide Dogs Queensland chief executive officer Michael Kightley says the annual graduation ceremony celebrates Queenslanders living with vision loss and blindness, and their incredible achievements to retain and regain the freedom, confidence and independence that most of us take for granted.

Celebrating 60 years

“This year we will be recognising 34 Queenslanders who have completed training with a guide dog, an electronic travel aid, or a white cane,” Michael says.

“These life-changing dogs have completed two years of extensive training to ensure they are the perfect partner and companion for someone living with vision loss or blindness.”

Michael says this year’s ceremony was particularly special as Guide Dogs Queensland marked 60 years of helping Queenslanders living with vision loss and blindness.

“The incredible Queensland spirit of helping others is still so important to Guide Dogs today, with more than 90 percent of our funding coming from the community,” he says.

“For every dollar coin put in a collection dog over the years, every item of merchandise bought at a fundraising stall, and every donation made over the past 60 years – more and more Queenslanders have been given the life-changing gift of a guide dog to be by their side.”

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