There is something very special about guide dogs, according to Paul Wyld.
Guide Dogs Tasmania’s community engagement officer, Mr Wyld can often be seen around Launceston with a loyal black labrador named Paris by his side.
While not blind or vision impaired himself, through his role Mr Wyld raises awareness about the role guide dogs play in allowing people to live independent and fulfilling lives.
He said he couldn’t imagine doing anything else and couldn’t imagine having a better work partner.
“I have always had a thing for animals and for dogs, in particular,” he said.
“About six and a half years ago I applied for this position and I haven’t looked back since.
“I would like to think I will be in this role for a while.
“It is really good and people are very positive with the organisation.
“We have six years of being Australia’s most trusted charity, so it is something to be proud of.”
After an incident left Paris sensitive to interacting with other dogs, the three-year-old was made the official Northern ambassador for Guide Dogs Tasmania.
Based in Launceston, together with Mr Wyld the pair help educate the community through regular ‘pup-up’ shops, school visits and fundraising events.
On Monday, January 14, Paris will be greeting guests at the Star Theatre as part of a fundraising screening of the documentary Pick of the Litter.
Mr Wyld said through education, people now had a much greater understanding of the role guide dogs played.
“We still get lots of questions, most to do with training and how long they work for until they retire,” he said.
“But the majority of people know not to pat Paris if her guide dog coat is on, because that means she is working.
“She is trained in every other aspect, just like a regular guide dog, but now she just comes with us as an ambassador.
“It is really positive because prospective clients can also see how a dog handles itself, who is trained like her.”
Tasmania has 21 working guide dogs helping people who are blind or vision impaired.
Along with an eye on the ground, Mr Wyld said the dogs played a significant role in providing confidence and companionship – something Guide Dogs Tasmania prides itself on.
“The outcomes we see I think plays a huge part in our reputation as a trusted organisation,” he said.
“It comes down to ethics and the belief in itself. It has good morals.
“We believe that the main objective is to get vision impaired or blind people independence, so they can actually get out into the community and engage.
“Instead of being afraid to go out and being locked up in their own homes. So it is all about giving them independence.”
On Monday, January 14, Mr Wyld will be at Coles, Newstead between 10.30am and 2.30pm, offering information and selling Guide Dogs Tasmania merchandise.
That evening, he will also be joined by Paris at the screening of Pick of the Litter at the Star Theatre, with a portion of the ticket sales from the night to be donated to Guide Dogs Tasmania. Tickets can be bought online at startheatre.com.au.