Blue Badge Congratulates New Assistance Dog Graduates!

Assistance dog graduation

What a great day spent with Assistance Dogs Australia! How many times in your life will you get the opportunity to watch 26 smart and adorably furry dogs graduate and become someone’s most valuable companion and partner?

This is the sentiment Blue Badge would like to share after attending the first NSW Assistance Dogs Australia graduation ceremony in two years, since the start of the pandemic. October is affectionately dubbed Dogtober and is the perfect time to host these well-loved dog graduation ceremonies once again.

The dog graduation ceremony took place at Sydney’s Martin Place Amphitheatre and is the finale in a series of ceremonies across Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane over September and October.

A Blue Badge team member shakes the paw of a dog graduate
A Blue Badge team member shakes the paw of a new dog graduate.

Why is it called dog graduation?

Anyone who didn’t get to attend in person or hasn’t heard what’s involved in preparing Assistance Dogs might wonder why they graduate. There’s quite a lot behind the answer!

These super smart puppies – selected for their build and demeanour – go through an intensive training program that lasts roughly two years. Certain breeds make the best Assistance Dogs and the Labrador Retriever is a firm favourite.

At the beginning of their two year stint, the young dogs do introductory training with a Puppy Educator. This is followed by an Advanced Training program at Assistance Dog Australia’s National Training School in Waterfall, southern Sydney. Once a trainee completes the program they must pass a dog PAT test. This certifies them to work as an Assistance Dog and to be allowed in nearly all public spaces.

The cost of readying just one single Assistance Dog for graduation over that lengthy period of time comes to over $40,000. Yet Assistance Dogs Australia matches dogs with clients who need them at no cost to the client.

Blue Badge attends the NSW Assistance Dogs Australia dog graduation ceremony

Just a year ago Blue Badge Insurance announced our exciting sponsorship with Assistance Dogs Australia. We’re so excited to be part of the journey of bringing more people the Assistance Dogs they need to live fuller lives. As one of our team members said of the dog graduation:

“Meeting everyone at Martin Place and hearing their stories highlighted the incredible amount time and effort (and cost!) that’s put into bringing together a highly trained Assistance Dog and someone who will truly benefit from their companionship, comfort, and service. We got a first-hand chance to hear about the life improvements their Assistance Dog is already making in their lives.

It was an absolute pleasure and honour to be a part of such a meaningful and joyous day.”

The Blue Badge team volunteered at the ADA dog graduation
Blue Badge team members Dianna and Wamica collect donations for Assistance Dogs Australia.

The turnout at Martin Place Amphitheatre on October 18 was incredible. Puppy Educators, members of the public, families and friends of those receiving Assistance Dogs and the media all came and showed support.

The Blue Badge team had a great time taking donations for Assistance Dogs Australia. Onwards and upwards to current and future dog graduates!

Tim McCallum, master of ceremonies

A special highlight was the presence of master of ceremonies Tim McCallum, who is renowned across Australia for his opera singing. Tim’s Assistance Dog needs special training to accompany him onstage. His dog Casper was right at his side as he welcomed the audience with a song.

Tim is not only an Assistance Dogs Australia ambassador, he’s also a long serving member of its Board – a role that emerged from his experience as a long-time client. Read our interview where Tim McCallum explains the difficulties NDIS participants often face getting Assistance Dog funding.

Tim McCallum is the host at the ADA dog graduation ceremony
Opera singer and Assistance Dogs Australia board member, Tim McCallum is the master of ceremonies at this year’s dog graduation. He is joined onstage by his Assistance Dog, Casper.

Protection for pups who graduate

Assistance Dogs help people who live with physical disability, autism, PTSD and more by doing a wide range of supportive jobs. Just like any dog they can sometimes get into accidents or get sick.

When that happens, the healthcare bills can be costly. That’s why Blue Badge Insurance offers 25% off Assistance Dogs Insurance. This plan helps to pay for medical care such as tests, medication, surgery, hospitalisation and other treatments for all kinds of minor and major medical mishaps. We also offer 15% discounted pet insurance for disability parking permit holders, not to mention affordable wheelchair insurance and wheelchair accessible vehicle insurance.

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