Paws to the fore


As demand for Guide Dogs grows due to an ageing population, so too does the need to raise and train more puppies that make a difference to the life of someone with sight loss.

To that end, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has expanded its highly popular volunteer puppy raising program to the Hunter Region.

It’s the first time the charity will have a Puppy Development Adviser and program based out of its Newcastle office on Wharf Road.

Up to 30 puppies need to be placed in Newcastle, Maitland and Lake Macquarie, with the young pups requiring a warm, loving home for their first year.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Puppy Liaison Coordinator, Kristie Lee, says there has been a great response so far.

“We’re looking to get about 30 puppies [homed] by Christmas time,” she tells Newcastle Weekly.

“A lot of people apply and not everyone is suitable.

“Obviously, you’ve got to love dogs and know that puppies are a lot of work in the beginning.

“The main thing is spending enough time with them and having enough time to take them to training and to put the effort in.

“If you don’t think you can commit for the whole year, then we’re also looking for temporary carers as well.”

Volunteers will care for a Guide Dog puppy from when it is eight weeks old up until 14 months.

While puppy raisers are responsible for everyday activities such as grooming, house training and exercising their pups, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT provides a strong support network.

They will need to have access to a car, a fully fenced yard, not be away from home for more than four hours at a time and be able to attend training days in their local area.

The volunteers must also be available for information sessions, vet checks and puppy pre-school when required.

Ms Lee says the new role of Puppy Development Adviser, filled by Novocastrian Page Power, will be of benefit.

“[Page] will take over the weekly and fortnightly classes and will be on hand for any questions,” she says.

“She’ll do all the necessary checks and have the relationships with the puppy raisers.”

In Australia, 28 people are diagnosed with sight loss that cannot be corrected every day, including nine who become blind.

An estimated 122,000 people in NSW and the ACT have a vision impairment serious enough to affect their everyday lives.

It takes over two years and costs $50,000 to raise and train each Guide Dog.

Puppy raiser applications in Newcastle and the Hunter are now open. Visit or phone 4579 7555.

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