FOSTER homes are needed for trainee guide dogs in Warwickshire.
Sight loss charity Guide Dogs has launched an appeal for 200 volunteer fosterers to come forward to provide temporary homes for the dogs on evenings and weekends, as they complete the latter stages of their guide dog training.
On weekdays, fosterers are asked to drop the dog they are caring for at the charity’s training centre in Leamington, so they can complete their specialist guide dog training, and then collect them again each evening.
Guide Dogs covers the cost of all the food, veterinary care and equipment required for each dog and provides volunteer fosterers with full training and support.
Graham Kensett, Head of Canine Assisted Services for Guide Dogs in the Midlands, said: “We’ll be increasing the number of guide dogs we train from our Midlands Regional Centre in 2023, so we’re looking for more volunteers to support us by providing temporary homes.
“This is a great opportunity for an individual or a family to care for a dog, on a temporary basis, without the cost or long-term commitment of a having a pet dog.
“After a few months of staying with you, each dog will move on to the next stage of their training before hopefully becoming a life-changing guide dog for someone living with sight loss.”
A guide dog begins its formal training at around 12 to 14 months old and, in normal circumstances, most dogs qualify as working guide dogs by the age of two.
Volunteer fosterers usually care for dogs that are between 14 and 24 months of age.
Graham added: “This is an incredibly rewarding volunteering role, suitable for anyone aged 18 or over.
“We also welcome applications from people who have other pets at home.
“We’re in urgent need of new volunteers as soon as possible. If you’re from Leamington or the surrounding area and think you could help, please do get in touch.”
Claire Martindale, from Wellesbourne, has been a Volunteer Fosterer for Guide Dogs for two and a half years and has loooked after 13 trainee guide dogs during that time.
Claire said: “We wanted to have a dog, but we couldn’t have a dog of our own as we both work full-time. We also we wanted to help a charity, so signing up as fosterers for Guide Dogs seemed like a win, win.
“We’ve looked after a variety of trainee guide dogs and they’ve all had their own personalities. You feel like you know each dog really well – they just become part of your family.
“It’s hard when each dog leaves us, but I always try to look at the positive. I feel sad, but I take comfort from the fact that we’ve done a really good thing and that this dog is going to go off and do something really tremendous.”
Anyone interested in fostering a guide dog should contact Melanie Brown via [email protected] or call 0800 781 1444.