PUBLISHED: 17:28 05 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:44 05 March 2019
Dedicated dog lovers from Ipswich are needed to help train guide dog puppies and care for them during their first year.
The Guide Dogs charity is searching for at least four volunteer puppy walkers who are able to take the young dogs into their homes and support their development and early training.
Each puppy will hopefully go on to become a life-changing guide dog to somebody who is blind or partially-sighted.
Penny Parker from Felixstowe said: “I have been doing it for years, and am now on my 13th puppy. You need a lot of patience and time, and to be certain you can commit to it.”
She said it was very demanding, and you have to be prepared to be woken up at night and clear up accidents, but also very rewarding.
“It really makes your heart swell with pride when the little puppy is now a grown-up dog and something that is going to give someone their independence. It’s absolutely fantastic.”
Penny admitted it was a wrench to part with the puppies after they have been trained. “You can’t help loving them, even if they wake you up at night!”
Puppy walkers will receive full training and support from a dedicated member of staff, and will also take part in a comprehensive induction programme.
To volunteer, you need to be over 18 and not work full-time, although you can have a part-time job.
You need to have a safe and secure premises with enclosed garden, and a stable home life environment.
It’s also important to have enough time to take the puppy out and about to socialise and develoop, for instance on public transport, including buses and trains, and at restaurants, cafes and theatres.
You will need to be able to have the dog for at least 12 to 14 months, and have enough transport to take it to different places.
For more information, email Guide Dogs volunteer consultant Christian Cornforth, or call him on 0345 1430223.