COUNTDOWN’S lexicographer Susie Dent visited the Guide Dogs National Centre in Warwickshire to meet the puppies who are set to change people’s lives.
Susie, who has been a fixture in the TV show’s Dictionary Corner for 30 years, was given a guided tour of the Bishops Tachbrook before meeting a litter of eight-week-old Golden Retriever puppies.
She said: “It was a wonderful experience visiting the centre and finding out more about the journey of a guide dog, from the breeding programme and specialised training to the really important process of matching them with someone with sight loss.
“It was so special meeting the gorgeous puppies, knowing that they will go on to become life-changing guides”.
Susie is an avid supporter of the charity and championed their ‘Power of Description’ campaign, which encouraged people to volunteer as a sighted guide.
Sighted guides are partnered with someone living with sight loss in their local area, to help them build confidence and do more of the activities they enjoy.
She also hosted the charity’s People Awards in 2021, which celebrates the contributions of staff and service users.
The charity runs the biggest, most ethical breeding program of working dogs in the world.
At eight-weeks-old, all guide dog puppies pass through the national centre’s doors for health and temperament checks, before being individually placed with volunteer Puppy Raisers around the UK.
Matthew Bottomley, head of breeding operations at Guide Dogs, said: “It was great to welcome Susie to the national centre – it is a unique part of Guide Dogs.
“Our guide dog pups are normally born and reared in the homes of our wonderful breeding dog volunteers and return to the centre at around eight weeks of age for health checks, assessments, microchips, and vaccinations, before moving onto their volunteer puppy raising homes”.
The charity is currently calling for volunteers across Warwickshire to become Puppy Raisers and provide a loving home to a guide dog puppy for the first year of their life. To find out about volunteering for Guide Dogs, visit www.guidedogs.org.uk/volunteer or call 0800 781 1444.