A NEW guide dog puppy will be spotted around Uttoxeter as a couple from town train him up to become a potential life saver.
Black Labrador Viking has moved to Uttoxeter for 12 months to be trained for future work with charity Guide Dogs.
Puppy walkers Gill and Jim Grainger will now play a crucial role in Viking’s early social activity and education as a guide dog.
Starting his training at just six-weeks-old, Viking will stay with Mr and Mrs Grainger until he is aged between 12 and 14-months.
The talented pooch will then move on to Guide Dogs’ training school, where he will begin a programme of specialised education.
Mrs Grainger said: “We’ve been puppy walkers for just over twelve months and we’ve loved every minute.
“It is a fantastic job and you get a real sense of achievement from it.
“When the puppy leaves, yes, it’s hard, but you know you’ve done your bit and it’s going on to do the next stage of its training so that some day it can help bring independence and mobility for a blind or partially-sighted person.”
A Guide Dogs spokesman said: “Guide Dogs uses puppy walkers to introduce puppies to all aspects of modern life – cars, buses, trains, crowds and other obstacles they may face.
“This is to make sure the pup is socially well behaved, friendly and responsive to the handler.
“It is also important that the puppy is at ease in all environments, including town conditions, is relaxed and confident when using all types of transport and learns an acceptable standard of behaviour on the lead.
“As each puppy is an individual, our staff will advise on the best way to achieve good results and the most appropriate time to introduce the puppy to these new environments.”
It costs £5,000 to train a new guide dog and, from birth to retirement, Guide Dogs has to shell out around £50,000 per dog.
The charity receives no government or statutory funding and relies on the generosity of the public to provide the service to blind and partially-sighted people.
Guide Dogs provides a range of mobility services and works to break down barriers so that people who are blind or partially sighted can get out and about on their own terms.
The charity’s aim is for people who are blind or partially sighted can enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else.
The Guide Dogs have been expertly breeding and training guide dogs for more than 75 years, providing thousands to people of all ages and from all walks of life.
They also deliver confidence-building rehabilitation services to adults and children - including long cane mobility training and communication and daily living skills.