AN APPEAL is being made to dog lovers to provide loving homes and basic training for puppies owned by national charity, Dogs for the Disabled. These puppies will one day become an assistance dog to help a disabled adult or child lead a more independent life.
Dogs for the Disabled needs to recruit more puppy socialisers who live within an hour’s drive of Banbury, Guildford, or the Forest of Dean. Without these vital volunteers the important work the charity undertakes could grind to a halt.
Every year over 70 puppies are fostered by a team of volunteers who look after the puppy for eight months of its life. This is the first stage in a process that develops dogs into life-changing companions for children and adults with disabilities. When fully trained, dogs undertake practical tasks, provide companionship and often raise the confidence and self-esteem of the people they are partnered with.
No experience is necessary to become a puppy socialiser but applicants should not underestimate the commitment the role requires.
’It doesn’t cost anything apart from your time and is very fulfilling. It is quite hard work and you have to abide by the guidelines to ensure each puppy is brought up well, but you get so much out of it and meet a lot of interesting people. I love having the puppies,’ says retired teacher Christine Parrett, who is currently looking after her fourth puppy for the charity.
Puppy socialisers introduce young dogs to different environments so that at an early age they become confident and used to the many different sights, smells and sounds they will encounter when they are working. They are also responsible for training puppies in the basics like general obedience, walking on the lead and toileting.
In return, Dogs for the Disabled provide 24-hour support for socialisers with regular puppy training classes and home visits. All food and vets fees are paid for by the charity and there are temporary boarding facilities available if you need to go away on holiday without the puppy.
Some people find the most difficult part of the scheme is to give the puppy back, but you are kept in touch with the dog’s progress and when it qualifies with a client you receive a photograph of the successful partnership.
‘It is not like the puppy goes out of your life forever and you still feel involved as they continue through their training. It is very rewarding to know that you have played a part in the process when you see them partnered with a disabled person,’ said Christine.
After four years as a puppy socialiser she is now also involved in fundraising for the charity and finds that just as enjoyable.
‘I volunteered to be a puppy socialiser after I saw a lady with a dog collecting money for the charity outside a local supermarket. She explained what was involved and I was immediately interested. Now I am doing the same thing and I encourage anybody who has the time and commitment to volunteer,’ she added.
To find out more about becoming a puppy socialiser with Dogs for the Disabled contact Theresa Franklin via email: Theresa.firstname.lastname@example.org, phone Chris Allen on 01295 252600 or log on to www.dogsforthedisabled.org where you can find out more information.
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