For the first time in Guide Dogs Victoria’s (GDV) history there are 250 guide dogs working in the state at one time.

Point Cook resident Antony was recently paired with Labrador Brett, bringing up the milestone achievement.

Antony, who is diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, didn’t initially feel he needed a guide dog, but with a busy year ahead, including his final year of study, he decided he would feel more confident and independent exploring new environments with a guide dog.

“As I embark on the final chapter of my studies and look to get a new job when I graduate, I will feel very confident with Brett by my side.”

After completing their one-on-one training with a guide dog mobility instructor, Antony formed a bond with Brett and realised they both have similar personalities – being laid-back and relaxed.

“The training was an awesome experience; our guide dog mobility instructor would come around every day to teach us the techniques and help us learn to work with one another.”

Karen Hayes, CEO of GDV, said great care and attention goes into matching guide dogs with their handlers.

“We learn each dog’s skills and temperament to gain an intimate understanding of how they might eventually match our client’s lifestyle and needs to ensure that they are a perfect fit for each other.”

Hayes said it was fantastic to see how well Antony and Brett had bonded and the difference Brett has already made in Antony’s life.

This partnership goes to show that our Guide Dogs provide so much more than mobility benefits. They offer companionship and confidence through the powerful bond shared with the person they are matched with.

Antony, who grew up in a musical family and has toured with a band around Australia and New Zealand, thinks Brett might enable him to hit the road again.

“I believe that Brett has given me the freedom to be independent and travel around unfamiliar places again.”

Hayes encouraged anyone who is living with low vision or blindness to get in touch with the team at GDV so they can help find them find the right service or guide dog for them.