Monday, 23 October 2017

Volunteers needed to help train guide dogs

A CHARITY that supports blind people is looking for volunteers.

A CHARITY that supports blind people is looking for volunteers.

Guide Dogs needs people to train puppies that are used to help blind and partially sighted people lead a more independent life.

Representatives from the charity were in Henley market place on Monday with Benji, a Labrador-golden retriever cross, to meet passers-by and encourage them to become a volunteer puppy walker or help fund-raise. Clare Burgess, voluntary development co-ordinator, said: “When a pup goes to a puppy walker at seven weeks old it starts getting out and about in the local community to get used to all the sights and sounds it’s going to have to learn to live with as a guide dog.

“Once the pup gets to 12 months old it goes into formal guide dog training at a school and is introduced to the harness that it will wear.”

Puppies will live with volunteer walkers for a year during which time they will be taken out every day. Ms Burgess said: “You do all the basic commands with it, like teaching it ‘sit’, ‘down, ‘stay’ and ‘wait’.”

There are 180,000 blind and partially sighted people in the UK who never leave home.

Ms Burgess said: “Guide dogs get people mobile again and with the public’s help we hope to get more and more dogs out there.”

For more information, visit www.guidedogs.org.uk

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