‘IT is such a worthwhile thing to help give someone a pair of eyes’ a couple responsible for the first steps in training a Labrador puppy to become a guide dog has said.
Puppy walkers Gill and Jim Grainger, of Curlew Close, have taken on adorable pooch Viking for the next 14 months to offer the first part of his training to become a fully-fledged guide dog.
The nine-week-old puppy is the second dog they have taken on and the couple has not regretted a second since they signed up to the scheme.
Mrs Grainger told the Post and Times: “Viking has settled in so quickly and he is such a calm little dog. As puppy walkers, we will have him for the first 14 months to socialise him.
“This means we will take him to the shops, on the train, to church, cinemas, in the car and places with loads of people.
“We have to take him everywhere we go and to everything we do in out everyday life.
“It is such a worthwhile thing to do to give someone a pair of eyes. We heard about the scheme from a lady who collects for the Guide Dog charity and as we are both retired we decided to look into it.
“I like to think of it as being like a foster parent, like him being at junior school and we are responsible for getting him prepared for senior school.”
After the canine has completed his time with the Graingers, he will move on to the Guide Dogs’ training school where he will begin a programme of specialised education.
Mrs Grainger said her last trainee puppy Lloyd became a popular face around the town, with residents constantly stopping to say hello and she hopes this will be the case with Viking.
The 63-year-old added: “Lloyd has recently gone back and it was in emotional but you have to remind yourself that you are doing this for a purpose.
“When you see a blind person walking down the street with a dog it is so wonderful as you know you have played a part in that.
“I would recommend puppy walking to anyone who is retired as it gives you a big purpose and is incredibly rewarding. You also have a lot of support from the charity.
“It is also great for those thinking of getting a dog but worry about when they go on holiday as they are easily houses with boarders while you are away.
“The dogs are recognisable as being in training as it flashes on the lead as puppy in training. They also get a little blue jacket when they get a big bigger.
“Both my husband and I both also have identification saying we are puppy walkers as well.
“The town shops are also really supportive of us with the first puppy and we would like to say a big thank you to all of those who have supported us.”
It costs £5,000 to train a new guide dog and, from birth to retirement, the charity has to sell out around £50,000 per dog.