For The Benefit Of: Dining In The Dark

28 October 2015 | 8:18 pm | Gillian O'Meagher

The idea behind Dining In The Dark is to have friends and family over for an evening meal during the months of October and November (the official chosen date is Saturday, October 31, but November is okay too).

Easy enough, but this time you're hosting a dinner party with a difference: you and your guests will be eating in the dark, or blindfolded, and the money each person would have spent dining out is donated to Guide Dogs WA.

Funds raised over the two-month period will go toward breeding costs, food, veterinary care, training, and ongoing assessment of guide dog puppies, as well as other services for blind and vision impaired West Australians.

For those wondering, it costs over $35,000 to train a guide dog over a two-year period. If a puppy fails the program, or isn't suitable, they become therapy dogs or companion dogs instead. What's the difference? While people are familiar with guide dogs, therapy dogs provide comfort to various ages - children through to seniors - in therapeutic settings, and companion dogs offer a soothing presence for people of any age living with a disability.

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As this year's campaign ambassador, Jarrad Seng is bringing attention to the Dining In The Dark experience. Most photography and music fans in WA are familiar with Seng's creative output: he's worked with Passenger, Ed Sheeran, and Matchbox Twenty, among others.

"As a photographer, I totally rely on my sight to be able to capture and share the world around me," points out Seng. "Photography and film is something that overwhelmingly relies on using your sight to capture fleeting moments or create visually striking concepts.

“I can't imagine the difficulties faced by people with a vision impairment in pursuing their passions, let alone navigating through everyday life. I'm very proud to support the inspirational work Guide Dogs WA is doing to improve accessibility and mobility to the vision-impaired community."

There's even a video on Seng's Faceboook page that you can check out, which shows Seng bringing together friends for some blindfolded guide dog portrait painting. (Spoiler alert: final results lean toward the abstract.)

Interesting fact: The country's first Guide Dog training school was established here in Perth by Dr. Arnold Cook in 1951. He became blind at the age of 18, learned Braille, then studied at UWA, earning a degree in Arts, and later earning a doctorate from Harvard.

Another point worth noting is if you do see a guide dog out and about, remember they're working, and shouldn't be patted or distracted by members of the public. (And definitely don't feed them.)

To register your own event, go to Hosts go in the running to win a night of at-home boutique dining courtesy of Chef De Home. Head chef, Ben Munro, will create a three-course dinner for six people valued at more than $800.