It started with two British pioneers almost 100 years ago – and has transformed countless lives in its time. Muriel Crooke and Rosamund Bond began Guide Dogs in 1931 after organising the training of the first four guide dogs from a garage in Wallasey, Merseyside.
Today, Guide Dogs is the world’s largest breeder and trainer of working dogs – and has placed more than 36,000 dogs with owners in need. They’re now accepting applications from people who want to become puppy raisers as part of the organisation’s excellent partnership training programme, which “prepares puppies for the next stages of becoming guide dogs “.
A statement reads: “As a puppy raiser, you’ll provide a puppy with the vital foundation for its future role as a guide dog.
“You’ll be looking after a puppy for 12 to 16 months and will guide him or her through training, socialisation, the introduction of new environments and experiences whilst providing a loving home.
“There might be the odd chewed slipper along the way, but nothing beats the rewarding feeling of loving and raising a puppy who will go on to make an enormous difference to someone living with sight loss.”
Volunteers will have access to a “world-class training programme”, covering food manners, greeting new visitors, being home alone and settling in new environments, to help their pup develop in the home.
“You’ll receive plenty of support from your volunteer manager who will help you work through these training modules with your puppy,” the statement adds.
“We also offer puppy classes for puppy raisers in the local area to get together, share stories and provide refreshers on training techniques.
“Volunteering for Guide Dogs should never leave you out of pocket. We’ll make sure we pay any expenses related to volunteering with us, including veterinary costs, food costs for the puppy and other materials needed for the puppy’s training.”
Who can be a puppy raiser?
A puppy raiser must to be able to handle a large breed dog, typically around 25 to 40kgs, and have “enough time to invest in raising a puppy”.
Ideally, they would have access to a car so they can get their puppy used to travelling, and have a safe secure area outside where their puppy can go to the bathroom.
Volunteers must be aged 18 or over.
Puppy raiser Kelly told Guide Dogs : “It’s the most rewarding and fulfilling thing I have ever done. I have an enormous sense of worth and pride in my role.
“There are so many people willing to help. It’s a lovely community of puppy raisers who want all the dogs to succeed and are always happy to help.”
While puppy raiser Nimmi said: “I’m happiest around dogs so raising puppies for Guide Dogs is totally up my street. I absolutely love it. I’ve met so many wonderful people through the charity.”
If you’re interested in becoming a Guide Dogs puppy raiser, visit Guide Dogs’ website and complete an application form.