Guide pups need temporary homes
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.