Bringing up fluffs of joy
Puppy raiser says helping out dogs is a rewarding experience
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