Today is International Guide Dog Day! These professional fur babies are critical to the people in need, but behind every successful guide dog, one puppy raiser is there, getting them up to scratch. So this International Guide Dog Day, Blind Low Vision NZ, is celebrating the essential role of puppy raisers.
What exactly are puppy raisers? As fun as it may sound, puppy raisers are volunteers that help to develop confidence and resilience in young dogs through early socialisation and exposure to the everyday situations and environments the dog will encounter as a guide.
Sara Leavy from Auckland has been a Puppy Raiser for three years, and she is currently raising her third pup Emma while her previous dogs, Ivy and Aztec, both qualified for the guide dog programme.
Getting a call to hear your pup has been matched is one of the best moments for Leavy.
“It makes you so unbelievably happy and weepy. There were lots of smiles and celebrations in our house that day,” she said.
“To know that after all the work that’s gone into the pup – from the breeding centre, trainers, vets, boarders, as well as our patience and time – has all been worth it. That the dog will now meet their new handler and together they will be a team, exploring the world together, is an amazing feeling.”
“I have three kids and I see the pups like my kids. I want to make them well socialised, well-mannered and then I want them to go out into the big wide world as a working adult making a difference.”
“Our puppies need to have as many experiences and social outings as possible in the first year of their lives to best prepare them for life as a guide dog and this could simply not be achieved without the dedication of our fantastic volunteers,” said Rochelle Corrigan, Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs Puppy Placement and Development Manager.
If you are thinking about becoming a puppy raiser, Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs are looking for puppy rasiers in Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty.
Click here for more information and applications.