It was a brief encounter with a young girl several years ago, that set the wheels in motion for Perth resident Leanne Rogers to get involved in the work of Guide Dogs WA – something she says she will continue to do for as long as she can.
“Our family decided to become Puppy Raisers around 2013 after meeting a lovely young girl who was visually impaired, and her Guide Dog. I remember her saying that if it wasn’t for her Guide Dog she would not have the courage to be out in public and she was so proud of herself. She explained the process involved in getting a Guide Dog and from then on I wanted to know more about what I could do to help. That’s how our commitment began,” Leanne says.
Volunteer Puppy Raising
Puppy Raisers are full-time volunteers who welcome an eight-week-old puppy into their loving home. With support from an experienced and specialised team, they spend a year teaching the young dog basic obedience and socialisation skills.
Puppy Raisers introduce the puppy to environments and experiences they will likely encounter as a working Guide or Assistance Dog, such as shopping centres, public transport and restaurants. The Raiser will also bring the puppy in training to personal appointments including dental visits, on school pickups and to sporting activities.
Guide Dogs WA organises regular walks and group activities to meet your fellow Puppy Raisers and further support the group with the ongoing training of the puppies.
“When we are together participating in group sessions you never know what’s going to happen with these puppies. It’s always funny and at times a little chaotic. The trainers shake their heads with a smile, but we all have the same passion to provide the best possible start for these wonderful puppies. Being part of this is extremely rewarding even if we do constantly talk about poo, vomit and embarrassing moments, we have a lot fun.”
Leanne says that it is a joy to be involved in the Guide Dogs WA Puppy Program. She knows that her family are contributing to the training journey of a Guide or Assistance Dog who will one day help a Western Australian with independence, safety, confidence and companionship.
Guide Dogs WA is set to welcome an increase in puppies and without more volunteers will struggle to meet growing need in the community for Guide and Assistance Dogs.
While Puppy Raising does provide plenty of cuddles along the way, it does require someone who can commit to having a puppy inside their home for 12 months, are physically fit and active in their community, and can give plenty of time and energy to the dog’s training. It does not suit full-time workers, and part-timers will need to have a lot of flexibility with their workplace.
Guide Dogs WA are now accepting applications in Perth as well as the South West, with Puppy Raisers located in Bunbury, Busselton & Dunsborough.
There is no cost to the Puppy Raiser volunteer, with all food, equipment and medical care covered. Once the puppy in training moves on after a year, there’s always the opportunity to welcome another into your home. It is the most rewarding, challenging and life-changing volunteering that you’re ever likely to do.
Does Puppy Raising sounds like your dream volunteering role? Please visit guidedogswa.com.au to find out more. Further information on eligibility as well as the application process are also available online.
For all other questions, please email Megan, the Guide Dogs WA Volunteer Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org