GUIDE DOGS: Can you care for a puppy?

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Guide dogs bring freedom and independence to many people with sight loss across the North East.

I am a puppy training supervisor and my job is to help our guide dog puppies to develop into these life-changing dogs.

I couldn’t do this without the dedicated volunteer puppy walkers.

These volunteers take dogs from the age of seven weeks old to live in their homes until they are about 14 months old.

In this time, the volunteers, with my support and advice, will socialise the dogs in many different situations.

They will also teach them some essential commands, as well as provide a loving and secure home.

Being a puppy walker is a demanding volunteer role as the dog is with you 24/7, and even guide dog puppies will chew things or have an ‘accident’ when they are very young.

However, it is hugely rewarding to see a little pup grow and develop into a potential life-changer.

Our puppy walkers are also very sociable and supportive.

They often will meet up to take their dogs for a walk and share their experiences, so the volunteer role is also a good way to meet new people and get some fresh air and exercise.

Guide Dogs wants to enable more people with sight loss to get out and about on their own terms.

This means that we have more puppies to train, and as a result of this, I need more volunteer puppy walkers to help me in North Tyneside.

Anyone interested in the role will need a secure, private garden, time, patience and be in a position where they will not leave the dog for more than a couple of hours a day.

In return, we provide all injections, food and cover any vet’s bills.

I will also support you through regular one-to-one meetings and monthly puppy training classes at Kingston Park, Newcastle.

Puppy walking would suit someone who loves dogs, but possibly can’t commit to long-term dog ownership.

The role of a puppy walker is sometimes challenging, but our volunteers also find it hugely rewarding and lots of fun.

Most of all, they have the satisfaction of knowing that their volunteering efforts will help a person with sight loss to live the life they want to, and deserve to.

So why not join our friendly and welcoming team?

To find out more please contact my colleague Claire Devine on 03451 430220 or email claire.devine@guidedogs.org.uk

Graham McKinney

Puppy Training Supervisor

Tyne and Wear