Guide Dogs Queensland welcomed a litter of very special puppies in June, with very big paws to fill.

The five ‘C Litter’ pups were born to mum Valisa, a brood that joined the Guide Dogs Queensland family from Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, California just before Christmas in 2019.

The Queensland community welcomed Valisa with open arms and it seemed only natural to reach out to that same community and ask them to help name her im-paw-tant pups!

“We know Queenslanders were very excited by Valisa’s arrival at Christmas and we wanted the community to have a way to be more involved with these very special pups,” General Manager Jock Beveridge said.

The response was incredible with nearly 3,500 names submitted by Queenslanders eager to have a chance at naming the beautiful litter of yellow Labradors.

Photo taken from above of three yellow labradors looking up at the camera

In the end it was the pride Queenslanders showed in their home state that won out in the naming competition.

The four boys in the litter are all named after Queensland towns, while the only girl’s new name pays tribute to a Queensland town as well as their mum’s hometown of California.

The new names are:

Coola – Named after Coolangatta on the Gold Coast.

Cook – Named after Cooktown in far north Queensland.

Charlie – Named after Charleville in outback Queensland.

Clifton – Named after the town of Clifton in the Darling Downs.

Cali – Named after California, where mum Valisa called home before arriving in Australia (and also for Calliope in central Queensland).

Nursery Coordinator Fiona Kachel said it was a tough job selecting the perfect names for the pups, but the overwhelming theme and spirit of “Queensland” was loud and clear.

“Queensland towns were suggested by so many of the people who entered, and we just couldn’t resist,” Ms Kachel explained.

“We thought this was a really special way of acknowledging that these pups will hopefully grow up to become life-changing guide dogs for people with vision loss all over Queensland.

Guide Dogs Queensland Chief Executive Officer Michael Kightley thanked the thousands of Queenslanders who took part in the unique opportunity to name a litter of puppies, a right usually reserved only for sponsors.

“Sticking with the Queensland theme was also a way to thank all Queenslanders – from far up north, out west, right down to the border, and everywhere in between – who have supported Guide Dogs Queensland since we formed in 1960, over 60 years ago,” Mr Kightley said.

“It’s fair to say then that many of the people who suggested these names are the reason why we’ve been able to offer the range of support and services we have to Queenslanders with vision loss for the past 60 years.”

The puppies are now preparing to leave the Nursery to begin the next stage of their training with volunteer Puppy Raisers. Their training will take another 12-18 months before hopefully qualifying as a guide dog and being paired with a Queenslander living with vision loss.

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