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Could You Look After A Trainee Guide Dog?

  • Post category:Local News

Guide Dogs is urgently appealing for more volunteers who live near Benton to help care for trainee guide dogs while they prepare to provide life-changing support for someone living with sight loss. 

As a Volunteer Fosterer, you’ll provide a temporary home for a future guide dog, as they complete their specialised training at the training centre in Gosforth Business Park. Guide Dogs covers the cost of all the food, veterinary care and equipment required for each dog and provides full training and support. 

Volunteer Fosterers usually care for dogs that are between 14-24 months of age and are required to be able to drop off and pick up the dogs each day. The dog will then spend evenings and weekends with the volunteer enjoying some well-deserved downtime and plenty of cuddles!

A guide dog begins its formal training at around 12-14 months old and, in usual circumstances, most dogs qualify as working guide dogs by the age of two. The two main breeds the charity uses are Labradors and Golden Retrievers, which are crossed to gain the best characteristics of each breed. These make up almost 80 per cent of the charity’s dogs. 

German Shepherds, Curly Coat Retrievers and Labrador-Poodle crosses are also used within the Guide Dogs breeding programme. 

Marilyn from North Shields, who has fostered five trainee guide dogs since 2021, said: “I began fostering after seeing a Guide Dogs advert. Our own pet dog had recently passed away and we thought it would allow us to have another dog at home without the full commitment, as well as supporting an amazing charity.

“I love fostering for Guide Dogs because I have the companionship of a dog but it’s also so rewarding seeing the dog excel in their training, with the end result of supporting someone with sight loss.

“We are currently fostering Carol who is a 16-month-old Labrador x Poodle and she’s been with us since September. Carol is currently a little bouncy and she loves to play with our grandchildren. She’s great around people, doesn’t bark, and is very intelligent and well behaved. She’s fit into our lives really well, responding well to routine and really has enhanced our family life – as have all of the dogs we’ve fostered. 

“It’s an absolute pleasure to be able to care for the dogs while they train and watch them mature and grow into their roles as guide dogs.

“I’d really encourage anyone to consider this volunteering role – it’s extremely fulfilling and gives the unique opportunity to bond with the individual dogs while helping them on their journey to become a successful assistance dog.”

If you think you could provide a loving, temporary home for a trainee guide dog, visit www.guidedogs.org.uk/volunteering to apply or call 0800 781 1444.