THE Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (Guide Dogs) currently boasts a dedicated group of five volunteer ‘puppy walkers’ in the Newtownabbey area, but the charity is appealing for more people to take on what is a challenging but ultimately fulfilling role.
Volunteers take on a labrador/retriever pup at around six weeks old and keep them for 12 - 14 months, teaching them basic obedience skills and getting them used to the home environment and the noise and bustle of shops, town centres and the sights and sounds of public transport.
The young dogs then go back to the charity’s base in Scotland for further training for another four or five months, and a final three months with a specialist guide dog instructor. Each of the canines will be working as a guide dog by the time they are two years old.
Dr Michelle Lord, Puppy Walking Supervisor, praised the “vital role” played by Newtownabbey’s puppy walkers, and has urged more people to sign up to become volunteers.
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