A woman with a white cane and a woman with a Guide Dog are walking side-by-side along a busy footpath.

The overwhelming benefit of a Guide Dog is the freedom it affords a person who has vision loss, enabling them to enjoy many experiences that would otherwise be difficult or impossible.

Here’s a lovely strange but true story from the archives: Doreen Brockman was an especially active worker for Guide Dogs Tasmania in a multitude of areas including as Public Relations Officer. As an avid swimmer Doreen would often take a dip at the beach with her Guide Dog, Crystal, guarding her belongings including her transistor radio that she had playing at full blast to assist her in locating her things when she came out of the water. The following story is of one such day at the beach:

One day Doreen came ashore and laid down on the sand for a sunbake. She was interrupted by Crystal barking her head off, people screaming and running and the sound of an elephant trumpeting.

When the events were pieced together it was discovered that an elephant travelling with a visiting circus had broken free from his attendant when, having been led down to the sea for a bathe, decided he didnt want to leave.

The boy rushed back to the circus to get help and Doreen and Crystal were left alone on the beach with a rampaging elephant as no other beach goer was game to go and rescue her.  The elephant pounded up the beach and began to throw Doreen’s clothes and radio in to the sea.  Poor Crystal was frantic to rescue the belongings whilst still protecting Doreen.  She lead Doreen back to the sea and then placed herself between Doreen and the elephant.  She then herded it away from the sea until it lumbered off to create further mayhem by overturning a car and sitting on another before finally being brought under control.

The circus bought Doreen a new radio and she continued to enjoy her beach visits but did not want to repeat the encounter with an elephant!!!!

Our beach to mountain photos show Doreen atop Mt Wellington where Crystal was able to guide her in very different terrain.

Of course none of this would be possible without many people: The Guide Dog Magazine August 1975 put it perfectly: To see a person engaged in activities that we take for granted it looks very simple but is the tip of the iceberg.  The part under the water, as it were, is the training of staff, dogs and dog/client to achieve this.