Guide Dogs WA is built on a legacy of compassion and commitment. A legacy that holds true today and remains at the heart of all we do.

As the pioneers of Guide Dogs in Australia, Guide Dogs WA have been training life-changing Guide and Assistance dogs for those living with low or no vision, disability or illness for over 70 years.

Our dogs, trained in WA, are intelligent, perceptive and much more than companions.

They are a pathway to a life that felt previously out of reach, helping to create new possibilities and opportunities.

Our History

Guide Dogs WA, the first Guide Dogs organisation established in not only Australia but the Southern Hemisphere, is largely the result of one man’s determination, Dr Arnold Cook. Dr Cook became blind at the age of 18 due to retinitis pigmentosa, but did not let his disability get in the way of his aspirations.

First graduating from UWA with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, he was awarded the prestigious Hackett Research Scholarship and went to London in the 1950’s to study at LSE (London School of Economics). It was in London that Dr Cook found navigating everyday life far more challenging than in Perth, WA.

When in London Dr Cook contacted the British Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and was matched with Dreena, a black Labrador that changed his life. Inspired by the independence having a Guide Dog afforded him, Dr Cook was committed to ensuring others experienced the same freedom and confidence that Dreena brought to him.

When Dr Cook returned to Perth, with Dreena, the first Guide Dog in Australia, he sought support from members of the Braille Society of WA, the Fremantle Rotary Club, the WA Kennel Club and a local member for Parliament to establish the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association of WA (known as Guide Dogs WA today).

Dr Cook had kept in contact with Dreena’s Trainer, Betty Bridge. When informed that Betty would be stopping in Fremantle, before joining her parents who had emigrated to New Zealand, he met her, along with some very persuasive friends! They convinced Betty to return to WA and establish Australia’s first Guide Dogs Training Centre. In 1952, the Training Centre opened, and Dr Cook’s ambition was realised. From this moment, Guide Dogs WA has been dedicated to supporting those with low or no vison, disability or illness to live the life they choose.

Our Future

Building on this pioneering history, today Guide Dogs WA leads the way in training working dogs to change lives; not only the lives of the people they are working with but the lives of entire families and communities. These highly trained and skilled dogs have several career paths including Guide Dogs, Autism Assistance Dogs, Facility Dogs or dogs within our Dog-Assisted Therapy programs. Whatever their career path and journey, these dogs impact lives.

To ensure long-term sustainability Guide Dogs WA identified the growing need to establish puppy Breeding and Cadet Training (staff) programs. Traditionally reliant on acquiring and transporting puppies from interstate or overseas, we faced increasing challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Border restrictions and reduced commercial flights added further to the logistical complexities of bringing puppies to WA. Compounding that problem was the worldwide shortage of qualified Cadets i.e. Guide Dog Trainers (who train the dogs) and Guide Dog Mobility Instructors (who train the dog and client together).

In 2022 to address these issues, we established our own Breeding and Cadet Training programs. We are now the only organisation that breeds, raises and trains Guide and Assistance Dogs in WA for West Australians. The impact of these programs is already evident. The Breeding program supplied 50% of the puppies entering the Puppy Development Program last financial year; a figure expected to rise to 75% this year. The increased population of puppies and dogs in training has also meant that Guide Dogs WA’s Cadet Training program has gone from strength to strength. We are now training a total of six Guide Dog Trainers and Mobility Instructor Cadets.

Join us in our Mission

It costs $50,000 and takes two years to train a Guide or Assistance Dog. To guarantee Guide Dogs WA continues to grow and support those in need, there are several ways you can join us in our mission:

Make a one-off or regular donation. One hundred percent of funds donated goes directly towards Guide Dogs WA training programs. Irrespective of the amount donated, every contribution is valuable and makes a difference.

You can make a one-off donation by visiting our website.

You can make a regular donation though the Puppy Pals program. This very special group of people make monthly donations; their collective giving is a powerful way to ensure funds have an even greater impact. To learn more, please click here.

Please contact our Donor Care team if you would like to speak to someone about making a one-off or regular donation. Phone (08) 6222 4922. Email:

Guide Dogs WA are very grateful for the generosity of people like you who have included us as a beneficiary in their Will. Leaving a gift in your Will is an expression of your wishes for the future while recognising and honouring the things that have been important to you during your lifetime. It’s a generous and lasting legacy that can make an enduring difference to future generations.

To find out more about including a gift in your Will please contact our Planned Giving team on (08) 9311 8285 or email

You can also find out more by visiting our website,

All images: Supplied.

This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with Guide Dogs WA.

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