Guide Dogs Victoria Open Day 2008...

Guide Dogs Victoria Open Day 2008

Dr Harry Cooper - Guide Dogs Victoria Open Day 2008

Guide Dogs Victoria Open Day 2008
Guide Dogs Victoria, Chandler Hwy, Kew
Sun, Mar 2, 10am – 4pm


I suddenly woke up to total darkness. Panic and fear engulfed me and I decided to lie down and re-assessed my situation. What had gone wrong? I remembered getting to bed with perfect eyesight, having finished reading yet another novel by Clive Cussler. What happened to me? How could I be blind overnight?

Lying down, I realized that I’m surrounded by noise and voice of every imaginable kind. I can hear the birds chirping on the tree outside the window. So I gather that it is now early morning. I can hear the sound of my neighbors talking to each other. I can hear the sound of tractor engine, the faint sound of music from somewhere, the humming of a car engine, dogs barking and others that I could not possible decipher without visual inspection. Dear God, what have you done to me? What kind of trick is this? Why am I being punished? I want to be able to see the loving face of my husband, the family and friends who are so close to me and to enjoy seeing the tricks and happy faces of my pets. Confusion and fear consumed me and I started crying earnestly…….

Suddenly I heard my husband’s cry for help. I panic. I tried to get up from the bed but without my vision, I stumbled.  Nick, where are you? I want to reach him but which way do I go? I took baby steps forward but knocked on a piece of furniture. I regained my composure but again stumbled upon something and fall down. I got up and with arms stretched out in-front of me, took another step forward and suddenly I tripped. Not giving up, I started to crawl on all four and with tears running down my cheeks; I called out to my husband.

Suddenly I felt something wet licking my face. I open my eyes and true enough, it’s my pet dog Phoebe licking me all over. She’s standing on my chest and looking down at me funnily? “Why have you been crying mom?” seems to be the question on her mind. I hugged her tightly, kissed her and together we went in search of my husband. There’s only one thing on my mind. We are going for the Guide Dogs Victoria Open Day.

GDV organizes open days annually. Entrance is by gold coin donation. I told my husband of my dream of waking up blind. I told him that I felt as though my world had crumbled overnight. And if God decided that I should go blind, I want a guide dog to keep me company.

Guide Dogs Victoria has helped many vision impaired people regained their confidence to perform daily task for more than 50 years. Dogs with perfect temperament were selectively breed and the ones graduated performed a demanding task of becoming a seeing dog for the vision impaired people in both Australia and around the world. The open days are organized to educate the public on their support towards this cause as GDV operates mainly on support from volunteers as well as donations, sponsors and bequest for both individuals and public companies.

There were so many activities lined up for the visitors throughout the day. As we enter, we were greeted by a big Pedigree stall selling show bags filled with doggie snacks & food at a bargain as well as other souvenirs like caps, t-shirts, leash, books, posters etc. Percentage of items sold will be donated to GDV so I eagerly spent my weekly allowance on 2 show bags and a couple of souvenirs. I even bought a huge poster of all dog breed in the world. It was something that I had wanted to get but had sold out back in Malaysia. The show bags proved to be a great hit. Ebony, my brother in law’s dog fell in love with the snacks as much as my dogs back in Malaysia. Yes, you guessed it right. I even managed to send back a few of the stuffs to Malaysia via a friend who was going back. Positive respond received from Malaysia with a request that I send them more… hmmmm…

Next we wondered to the exhibition ring where a puppy training demonstration was taking place. Here, a number of puppy carer demonstrated the skills taught to the puppy in their initial training stage. Puppies were taught to be calm when their carers were suppose to perform simple task like cleaning the ears, checking paws while the puppies lie down on their backs on the carers’ laps, to remain calm upon being presented with food and proceed to eat upon instruction, learning to walk on different surfaces and getting used to minor distractions on the road and much more. The puppies were all so well behaved and looked so adorable. The demonstration proceeded with a senior guide dog demonstration and ended with a demonstration of another kind, a Kelpie herding a pack of ducks. It was very interesting as the Kelpie on show demonstrated such patience and intelligence as he endlessly monitored and anticipated the ducks movement. He was richly rewarded with lots of praise from his owner when he successfully herded the ducks to their pens. A job well done indeed!

We then proceeded to a rest area erected in front of a stage where a couple of guys were performing for free. They sang harmoniously while playing the guitars until it was time for Dr. Harry Cooper to make an appearance. Dr. Harry’s topic of the day was entitled “AFC”. It is something that all of us should know when we encounter strange dogs. Normally when we encounter a dog that catches our eyes, we tend to immediately pat or hug them without even asking for permission to do so from the owner. This is totally “un-cool” and should not be made a norm. Dr. Harry’s expertise lies in how he educates the crowd on the topic of the day. What better way to do so than by asking a couple of kids to do a role play based on that topic.

“A” refers to “ask”. The 1st thing we should remember when we want to pet a strange dog is to ask the owner for permission to do so. Proceed if the owner says yes but do not feel bad if your permission is not granted. There must be a very good reason behind the big “NO”. “F” refers to “fist”. Once your permission is granted, hold up your hand in a fist. This in no way indicates that you are going to be aggressive towards the dog. It is just a way of preventing you from being gravely injured if you were bitten. Logically, a fist is harder to bite than the palm of your hand. “C” refers to “chin”. Allow the dog to sniff your fist by lowering it towards the chin of the dog. Someone asked Dr. Harry why must it be at chin level and his answer was that a dog will not be aggressive if he thinks that he’s in control and not in danger. If you put the fit behind his head, he may think that you are trying to strike him. So always remember to put the dog at ease before trying to pat him. Gestures at eye level are more comforting as the dog is able to see your move at all times.

After his talk, Dr. Harry had a signing session for his fans. As an ardent admirer, I patiently waited for my turn to have a word with his. At last, after standing in queue for about 15 minutes, I had my 5 minutes one on one discussion with my idol. I just could not believe my luck. I 1st met Dr. Harry in person at his farm in Relbia, Tasmania. I remembered him as a warm person willing to talk to anyone and answers every question put forward to him. And today, that person is back in action, advising me on a little problem that a friend is facing with her dog. I thanked him for his time and moved away happy as a lark.

Apart from informational booths, GDV has also organized for pony rides, kids party bus, Hydrodog mobile grooming demo, entertainers and many other activities that appeal to the young and old. This is something truly marvelous and it is no wonder why so many Melbournians came out to visit the GDV Open Day annually. I hope that one day I will be able to help organize something of this magnitude for one of the dog shelters back in Malaysia the next time I go back for a visit. Thank you GDV for giving me the opportunity to share this wonderful experience with you. God bless you GDV! See you again next year.


Below are the photos of the participating dogs on that day. I hope you enjoy looking at them and feel free to drop any feedback or suggestions to

Love & kisses,

NR of Pet Groomers Pro


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