This being the week of commemoration of those who have served our country our history story highlights the service of two committed forces.

Dogs in service have had a long affiliation with the armed forces, not the least being their active service in theatres of war.

The modern Guide Dog as we know it also has its origins embedded in the history of the armed forces.  The observations of a German doctor working with soldiers blinded in World War 1 when he left his dog with a blinded soldier in the grounds of the hospital led him to start trialing dogs to act as guides.

This work was taken up by others and in 1931 the first four dogs graduated in the United Kingdom. The trainer wrote of the newly graduated men: ‘You will have a real catch in your throat as you see the shuffle gone from their feet and their heads thrown back as they take a new outlook on life.’  Allen Caldwell one of the graduates said; ‘Not only has my dog given me glorious independence never know since pre-war days, but delightful companionship.’

In 1962 Guide Dogs SA took over responsibility for services provided in the North.  Our Northern Territory branch has a close affiliation with the armed forces who continue their wonderful work assisting with the fundraising efforts.

Military Working Dogs from the 1st Combat Engineer Regiment’s Explosive Detection Dog Section raised funds to assist their canine counterparts by taking a plastic Guide Dog donation tin whenever they were deployed during 2001.  Donations were collected whilst in New Zealand, on tandem exercise with the United States Army and on the Simpson Desert Cycle Challenge.

In recent years, 105 Signal Squadron have been the force behind the sale of raffle tickets and assisting at the deckchair cinema events.

Guide Dog King served as a wonderful ambassador for Guide Dogs along with his owner Clive Thelning.  They travelled thousands of kilometres together in the 1960’s promoting the worth of Guide Dogs.  King died in service whilst on one of their tours in Darwin.