Meet Gracie, the Flying Doctor Guide Dog

Date published

07 Mar 2019

This lovely Labrador is on a mission to support psychologist Vivian Bachelier as she travels to Flying Doctor clinics across the region.

Gracie and Vivian

A guide dog has an important role to guide and support its owner who is blind or vision impaired.

However, Gracie will go above and beyond by supporting psychologist Vivian Bachelier in her work for the Flying Doctor.

Vivian works with the Mental Health and Alcohol and other Drugs team, based in Broken Hill. She is vision impaired.

In her job Vivian travels to some of the 18 clinic locations visited by the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) to give everyone in the region access to psychological support and counselling.

“What I love about my job is the variety, the people, and the fact that no two days are ever the same,” Vivian said. 

“However the best parts are often the little moments; laughs with community members, and seeing the relief in a client’s face when they realise their feelings are completely normal responses to extreme life experiences.”

When Gracie joined Vivian in January she started to go with her to clinics across the region.

In her first week there was an extreme heatwave and Gracie went with Vivian to the Yunta Clinic where it was 43°C.

Gracie and Conrado

The following week she went to Tilpa where it was 46°C! Thankfully Gracie had some booties to protect her paws from the scorching surfaces.

Pilot Conrado Cialiero had flown them to Yunta and said Gracie was an “exemplary passenger”. Gracie thanked him with numerous licks and cuddles!

When she is in her harness Gracie knows she is working and she is focused on guiding Vivian to keep her out of danger. But when her harness is off, Gracie enjoys some downtime with her new friends at the RFDS.

Gracie and Vivian

Gracie also travels with Vivian between the Broken Hill Base and her home in Canberra, via Sydney, and in her first week Gracie helped Vivian to avoid a cyclist in Sydney and a toddler in Canberra.

“She is brilliant to work with – very calm and alert. I am looking forward to many years of support and friendship ahead,” Vivian said.