Sight loss charity Guide Dogs has launched an appeal in Oundle, Corby and Kettering for volunteers who can provide a loving home to a guide dog puppy for the first year of its life.
At least 20 new homes are needed in the area to foster guide dog puppies, which arrive at about seven weeks old and remain until they are around 12-16 months old. The charity covers the cost of all the food, veterinary care and equipment required.
The volunteers, known as Puppy Raisers, are vital to the early socialisation and education of guide dogs, teaching puppies basic commands and helping them get used to the outside world. The puppies then move to a training centre to begin their specialised training.
Witnessing a fluffy pup grow into a fully qualified guide dog can be a truly rewarding experience, especially with the demand for guide dogs on the rise in the UK. Currently two million people are living with sight loss, and the number is expected to rise to nearly four million by 2050. The majority of individuals with sight loss are likely to encounter high unemployment, depression, loneliness and financial insecurity throughout their lifetime.
Most of the puppies come from the charity’s own breeding programme and are usually labradors or retrievers. The charity would provide all the training and support needed to raise a puppy, so volunteers would feel well-equipped to welcome the new family member.
Volunteers do need to acknowledge that raising a guide dog puppy is a commitment. Suitable housing is required with a secure area for the puppy. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, be able to handle a dog as it grows, and have access to a car for weekly visits for training and vet visits. They also must have the ability to access online content and training materials and have an email address.
Mike Hefferan, a volunteering coordinator for Guide Dogs, who covers Northamptonshire, said: “This is a great opportunity for people in Oundle, Corby and Kettering to raise a guide dog puppy, helping to prepare a pup for their future role supporting someone with sight loss.”