Guide pups need tem­po­rary homes

Central Leader - - News -

Fif­teen dog-loving homes are ur­gently needed af­ter a guide dog puppy boom.

More than 30 pup­pies have been born at the Royal New Zealand Foun­da­tion of the Blind’s Guide Dog Ser­vices in the past month.

The pups need to be placed with vol­un­teer puppy walk­ers be­tween De­cem­ber 1 and Jan­uary 5.

Julie Lit­tle­wood, 52, has been a vol­un­teer puppy walker since 1988 and en­joys the sense of achieve­ment.

“You feel kind of proud when you hear that your puppy has gone through the in­ten­sive train­ing, come through the other end and been placed with a blind per­son – you feel like you’ve ac­com­plished some­thing.”

Mrs Lit­tle­wood is puppy walk­ing her eighth puppy, four-month-old black labrador Vasha.

Her role is to so­cialise Vasha for the first 12 months of her life, in­tro­duc­ing her to so­cial sit­u­a­tions and en­vi­ron­ments she will en­counter as a guide dog.

“Vasha trav­els by bus, train and car and goes to the movies, the­atre, church, restau­rants – any­where and ev­ery­where,” says Mrs Lit­tle­wood.

“The more places you can take a puppy the bet­ter be­cause you’re get­ting the dog used to dif­fer­ent smells, noises and sit­u­a­tions.”

But she knows how dif­fi­cult it is to re­turn the pup­pies to Guide Dog Ser­vices for for­mal train­ing.

“I cry ev­ery time – it’s like giv­ing back one of your chil­dren.

“The pos­i­tive thing is that you know it’s go­ing to do good for some­one else.”

Peo­ple can ap­ply to be a puppy walker if they have a fully fenced and se­cure sec­tion, can walk the puppy about 5km a day, have a car that the puppy can travel in and do not work full­time.

Those in­ter­ested in be­com­ing vol­un­teer puppy walk­ers can call Guide Dog Ser­vices dur­ing busi­ness hours on 269-0400 for an ap­pli­ca­tion pack.

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