Bring­ing up fluffs of joy

Puppy raiser says help­ing out dogs is a re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - LIFESTYLE - See guide­ or phone 4579 7555

AF­TER 16 years, Kerry Bowden’s two dogs were a big part of her fam­ily and when both died within six months of each other, it was a lit­tle labrador pup that helped heal the heartache.

Her daugh­ter, a NSW/ ACT Guide Dogs trainer, sug­gested Bowden be­come a puppy raiser and with the arrival of her first lit­tle ball of fluff, Jazzy, she was hooked.

Five years and four pup­pies later, she is get­ting ready to cheer on her two lat­est re­cruits, Elka and Lady, at a grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony in Martin Place on De­cem­ber 6.

Like all pup­pies, the would-be Guide Dog re­cruits can get up to mis­chief, like dig­ging in the gar­den, but Bowden says, above all, they are a lov­ing breed and be­ing a puppy raiser was a very re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“They re­ally want to please you and be with you,” Bowden says.

“It is a great ex­pe­ri­ence, and it gives you a good feel­ing to be do­ing some­thing good.”

Puppy rais­ing is a 12-month com­mit­ment and rais­ers are re­spon­si­ble for feed­ing and groom­ing, ex­er­cis­ing their puppy and tak­ing it to puppy preschool and so­cial­i­sa­tion days.

“Guide Dogs is fan­tas­tic,” Bowden says.

“They help you through it all, with the train­ing and things like food, bed­ding, bowls and vet care – it doesn’t cost us any­thing.”

Bowden says it is hard to say good­bye to the pup­pies, but know­ing they are go­ing on to do such im­por­tant work makes it eas­ier – and yes, she has a new puppy due to ar­rive six days af­ter Elka and Lady’s grad­u­a­tion.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT puppy breed­ing and rais­ing man­ager Karen Hayter says it takes al­most two years and costs more than $35,000 to raise a Guide Dog, and the vol­un­teer fam­i­lies play a crit­i­cal part in shap­ing the an­i­mal’s fu­ture.

Kerry Bowden and fu­ture Guide Dogs Lady (left) and Elka. Pic­ture: Dave Swift

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