Seeing Eye dogs are vital for those with sight impairments in order to get through life without having to struggle beyond their means. While a cane and a good set of ears are extremely helpful, nothing beats having a loyal friend with all senses intact by your side if you are visually impaired or blind.
A Seeing Eye dog can help blind people get to doctors’ appointments, the supermarket or even just outside for some exercise in the sun.
Breeding, raising and training guide dogs for the blind and visually impaired is an important task, yet there is only one national organization in Australia charged with this duty: Seeing Eye Dogs Australia (SEDA). As much as SEDA would like to breed and train all the dogs that are needed in the country at a central location, the organization simply does not have the space, personnel or money to do so. Furthermore, training puppies is easier when they have real homes and loving people to care for them.
Puppy Caring for SEDA
Because the demand for Seeing Eye dogs is always growing, SEDA is continually on the lookout for volunteers to care for puppies in stable homes until they are 12 to 15 months of age. Training puppies and providing them with loving homes can be fun and extremely rewarding, but it can also be demanding. However, many people fall in love with the program, and they accept new puppies as soon as their previous ones have grown and been sent to training. SEDA is also looking for additional volunteers to act as temporary dog carers during the early stages of the program.
About Puppy Caring
SEDA’s puppy caring program relies on volunteers who care for future Seeing Eye dogs in their homes. Puppies are placed in new homes when they are around 8 weeks of age, and they remain under the care of these volunteers until they mature into adults, which is somewhere in the range of 12 to 15 months.
Puppy carers are expected to teach basic skills to their charges, but they receive help and guidance from puppy development officers who oversee large groups of volunteers. Some of the skills the puppies are expected to learn include indoor and outdoor manners, obedience, toilet training, socialization with people and other animals in a variety of environments, walking on leads and proper eating.
The puppy development officer visits carers at regular intervals to ensure that the puppies are being adequately cared for and are steadily progressing in loving, nurturing homes. In addition, each carer is expected to bring the puppy to a formal training session with the development officer once per month.
Requirements for Becoming a Puppy Carer
To become a puppy carer, you must meet strict qualification criteria, and you must agree to abide by all of the rules, which are summarized below:
• You must live in a designated area of Victoria or Queensland.
• The puppy must be assigned to an adult handler who will be primarily responsible for the puppy’s care. Family members may help in a consistent manner, and friends, neighbors or relatives can stay with the puppy if you have regular commitments.
• You must have a safe, secure yard surrounded by adequate fencing.
• You may not have more than one other dog in your household.
• You must be available for visits during the week and on the first Saturday of each month.
• You must be able to provide consistent training and socialization experiences that include traveling by car or public transit and walking among traffic, shops, crowds of people and other animals.
Support for Puppy Carers
As a puppy carer, you will receive support from SEDA that is available in several forms, including all of the following:
• Basic puppy supplies, including food and water bowls, a collar, a lead and a bed
• A supply of dry Royal Canin dog food
• Veterinary care
• A training manual
• Regular visits
• Phone support and on-call assistance
• Emergency or temporary boarding
As the carer of a future Seeing Eye dog, you will also have certain privileges. You will be able to, and are expected to, take the puppy into businesses where pets are normally not allowed. You will also be able to take the puppy to work with your employer’s permission.
Submit an Application Today
If you believe you meet all of the qualifications for training puppies and caring for them, give SEDA a call today at 1800-03-77-73, or visit the Seeing Eye Dogs Australia website at seda.visionaustralia.org.