By Bev Jordan
If you love dogs and puppies this could be the volunteer role of a lifetime. Volunteers are needed in the Hills to Hawkesbury area to help bring the next generation of Guide Dog puppies into the world.
Veterinary and Breeding Manager Dr Caroline Moeser from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT said its Home Whelping and Puppy Rearing Program is a great success but more volunteers, who live less than an hour away from The Guide Dogs Centre in Glossodia, are needed
“It is so much better for the mums and pups to be cared for in a home environment, they are so relaxed,” said Dr Moeser.
The volunteer carers’ role includes home whelping and rearing of the puppies until they are six weeks of age when they will return to the Guide Dogs Centre for two weeks before going to their Puppy Raising families. Breeding dogs can be in the program for up to four years and then stay with the family.
Samantha and Christian Whitelock have been part of the guide dog volunteer program since 2013 and while they started out as puppy raisers they are now volunteering with the Home Whelping and Puppy Rearing Program.
“Being puppy raisers was amazing, but watching our children grow attached only to say goodbye 12 months later was taking its toll,” they said. “At the graduation ceremony of our second puppy, Beau, we were approached by the breeding program and told about Bridie.
A quiet black fully mature Lab with a belly full of puppies. We were ready for something different so we said YES!
“Bridie was the definition of the term “Good Girl”. Very sweet, soft and low maintenance.
She’s since retired and lives with us full time and now acts as “Auntie” to our new breeding dog, and her best friend “Fizz’s” pups every year.
“Fizz is currently nursing nine gorgeous puppies (eight boys and one girl) who are starting to open their eyes and interact with the world around them.
“What we love about volunteering as a whelping family is obviously the puppy love that surrounds us.
“Our three children have had front row access to unprecedented experiences such as live births, first weeks of an adorable Lab puppy, helping with the weighing process, pats, handling and feeding duties. It’s truly an enriching and rewarding experience”.
Dr Moeser said full training and support is provided to volunteers and staff visit regularly to help with weighing, worming.
“The mum and puppies need a nice warm place to sleep that will be in a central place inside the house so they can be around all the normal noises of family life and have lots of interaction with people,” she said.
“We are looking for people that are home most of the time and have a fenced yard, who are interested in putting effort and love into the most formative weeks of a puppy’s life, as well as caring for beautiful mums.
“ The program has been running since 2017 with around 30 Guide Dog litters born each year.