Meet Gladstone's newest and cutest guide dog
GLADSTONE man Dave Byars has begun a new chapter of his life under the guidance of guide dog Trevor.
Mr Byars and Trevor were recently paired with each other following the retirement of his previous guide dog Queeny, who has put her paws up after eight years of service and will now enjoy her golden years in the comfort of Mr Byars' home.
The arrival of Trevor was timely for Mr Byars, who had been left in limbo due to Queeny needing cruciate ligament surgery, putting her out of action and into retirement.
It wasn't an ideal situation for 71-year-old Mr Byars, who has a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, but the arrival of two-year-old labrador-golden retriever cross Trevor has given the Calliope Central Bowls Club stalwart a new lease on life.
"Trevor came into my life last week and he's replacing Queeny who worked with me for nine years and we've been training for the last nine days," Mr Byars said.
"He's a wonderful inclusion into my life now because I was lacking mobility for the last three months once Queeny was retired and now I'm out and about and getting around confidently under the guidance of Trevor."
"Trevor will take me wherever I want to go and lead me virtually in a straight line until I tell him to do anything different. He'll stop at every curb, so he keeps me safe and walks me around obstacles and I can go about my daily life doing my shopping and things like that."
As fate would have it, Trevor and Dave seemed destined for each other as the bowls club hosts a Guide Dogs fundraiser each year.
"In 2016 we raised $5200 on the day and that money goes towards a young litter down at Guide Dogs in Bald Hills (Brisbane) and unbeknown to us when we got a photo back it was the 'T' litter and that was the litter Trevor was a part of," Mr Byars.
"So it's ironic now the dog I get to replace Queeny is one of those dogs we sponsored two years ago.
"I feel all the community of Calliope, Gladstone and Boyne/Tannum that have supported us with prizes, attending or buying raffle tickets all played a big part in Trevor being a part of my life."
Trevor and his six brothers and sisters from the 'T' litter were born on January 18, 2016.
The process of matching Trevor with Mr Byars can be a lengthy one with up to 40 people on a waiting list at one time.
"I was put on a client waiting list and the dogs when they're trained up and ready to go they have matching meetings inside the Bald Hills headquarters and it was suggested to me in December last year that they'd found the right match so I was really over the moon about that," he said.
"I went down and visited Trevor in early January and everything worked out well from there, it was just a matter when it could be timetabled for the trainers to come to Gladstone and train me domiciliary rather than me having to travel down to Brisbane."
There is certain criteria that needs to be ticked off when pairing a guide dog with a potential owner as no two dogs are the same.
"They have a history of your requirements as far as workload, walking pace, strength and personalities come into it," Mr Byars said.
"The first couple of days was getting to know each other but now I've got confidence in him and I'm sure he's gaining more and more understanding of my commands.
"He's responded very well and I'm over the moon about it."
Guide Dogs Queensland mobility instructor cadet Jason McKee and GDQ team leader Jason Stankoski have been making sure Trevor's transition has been as smooth as possible.
"We came up Monday last week to replace Trevor with Dave... we spent the first week getting them to bond with each other," Mr McKee said.
"Trevor was adapting to Dave's lifestyle, walking speed, workload, the environment, working conditions and it seems to be working really well.
"I trained Trevor myself so it's very good to see the progression that he's made and the difference and the change in the dog, it's very good to see."
Guide Dog etiquette
- When a Guide Dog is in harness, it is working. Whether it is walking, sitting or sleeping, it should not be patted, fed or distracted.
- If for any reason you need to interact with a Guide Dog, please ensure you check with its handler first.
- Please don't grab the person or dog harness. Ask if they need assistance first.
- If a Guide Dog handler needs assistance, please walk on the opposite side to the Guide Dog while helping them.
- Please make sure your pet dog is on a leash or under control around the Guide Dog. When approaching a Guide Dog Team, it may be polite to let the handler know that you have a dog.
- Remember, under the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009, Guide Dogs are permitted by law to go anywhere their handler can, including restaurants, taxis and shopping centres.