Gloucester's Lindy Trudgeon donates puppies to become assistance dogs

Lindy Trudgeon with nine month old Bear, who is currently in training to be an assistance dog. Photo Anne Keen
Lindy Trudgeon with nine month old Bear, who is currently in training to be an assistance dog. Photo Anne Keen

Gloucester's Lindy Trudgeon acquired her first labrador, Tina, in 1968.

She had opened the first ever horse riding school in Jindabyne and she was looking for a dog that was compatible with both humans and horses. Tina was four months old and for the next 15 years, she and Lindy were inseparable.

She was a wonderful companion for Lindy, seemingly understanding and knowing what her owner needed and always willing to help. 

"There was a group of us walking from Perisher to Smiggins on our way camping when I dropped by sleeping bag down a very steep, snowy covered slope," Lindy recalled. "There was no way I would have been able to get to it, so I asked Tina to go and get it and she clambered down, grabbed the sleeping bag and brought it back to me."

It's one of the stories about Tina's that really sticks out in Lindy's mind, and one she says, the people that were with her that day remember as well.

I just realised how beautiful they were and how much people loved their breed.

Lindy Trudgeon

Stories like these are what started Lindy thinking that Tina would make an excellent dog to breed. And so was; 50 years later the line of Lindy's dogs leads directly back to Tina.

What started out as a passion for the breed, became a desire to share the love.

"I just realised how beautiful they were and how much people loved their breed," Lindy said. "I liked the idea I was giving families years of pleasure with these beautiful dogs."

Then the pleasure turned into helping others, with Lindy getting involved with breeding for Guide Dogs Australia shortly after relocating to Gloucester in 1974.

Lindy's property is sometimes a bustle with labrador puppies.

Lindy's property is sometimes a bustle with labrador puppies.

According to Lindy, labradors make excellent guide dogs due to their sociable, reliable nature and the fact that they love to be with their owner all the time.

During her 30 year stint of breeding guide dogs, she was involved in introducing the first labrador/golden retriever cross.

"They had the sensitivity of a golden retriever and the confidence of a lab," Lindy said. "With labs you get about a 50 per cent graduation rate, but with the cross you'd get 75 per cent."

But it wasn't just guide dogs Lindy was breeding, she also started donating puppies to families who needed assistance dogs. This venture began when her niece was volunteering for Epilepsy Australia, and Lindy discovered how many families didn't have the resources to purchase a good quality puppy and how to eligible for a fully trained dog could take years. So Lindy helped out.

There can be a range of different coloured labrador produced in the same litter.

There can be a range of different coloured labrador produced in the same litter.

"Then stories started coming back from the families about how the puppies bonded with the children almost immediately, even when the puppies were eight weeks old," Lindy said.

Now she's helping to get assistance dogs into schools to help children with special needs, with puppies like, nine month old, Bear currently in training for just such a position.

For Lindy, with each one of these puppies, it's all about sharing the love and companionship she first shared with Tina.