Guide Dogs Queensland graduation ceremony
Ladies and gentlemen, I too would like to acknowledge today’s special guests – our State Members, representatives from Guide Dogs Queensland, and of course, our guide dog graduates.
Thank you for the warm welcome you have extended to me this morning.
It is a privilege to once again be part of this important occasion – a lifechanging occasion for so many.
Today’s graduation ceremony marks the end of a period of intense training for these guides, and for their handlers, it marks the beginning of a journey towards a degree of independence greater than ever before.
And while every dog is special, these dogs are exceptional.
Indeed, it takes a superior kind of canine to become a graduating guide dog.
New recruits are carefully selected – they must be confident, responsive and healthy to ensure their best chance of succeeding in training and one day becoming a guide.
Anyone who has ever owned, or even looked after a dog knows how difficult it can be to teach them the most basic of commands.
It can take months of trial and error until they finally grasp the concept of ‘sit’ and ‘down’.
Of course, some dogs also have a great talent for, let’s call it, ‘resourcefulness’.
At Government House, our own Vice-Regal Dog, Gavel, is particularly ept at remaining well fed.
He has his own special talent, identifying the ‘soft touches’ at morning tea, and his persistence often pays off.
Of course, persistence is not just for our four-legged friends joining us today.
We are also here to formally acknowledge the hard work, patience and perseverance of the puppy raisers and guide dog instructors across Queensland who spend days, weeks and months painstakingly preparing new recruits for their very important life mission.
Stopping at the kerb, waiting for the ‘go ahead’ before crossing the road, boarding and travelling safely on all forms of public transport, it is truly impressive what guide dogs are capable of.
Possibly their most important talent is that they can bring boundless happiness – not only because of the affection and loyalty they show towards their handlers, but, most importantly, because through that very affection and loyalty they help their handlers go further than they ever imagined possible.
As Governor and Patron of Guide Dogs Queensland, I am certainly very proud of you all – puppy raisers, guide dog instructors, and last but not least, the dogs and their handlers.
My warmest congratulations to you all.
Guide dogs are companions on the path to freedom – they are your companions, and it is your freedom.