South Warwickshire Guide Dog volunteer says it is the best thing she's done - The Leamington Observer

South Warwickshire Guide Dog volunteer says it is the best thing she's done

A DEVOTED south Warwickshire volunteer who has had almost 90 puppies born in her home says looking after guide dog mums is one of the best things she’s ever done,

Ruth Mercer , from Oxhill, signed up to be a breeding dog volunteer after seeing an advert in a local newspaper in 2006.

Volunteers have a guide dog mum-to-be living with them full-time, with all costs covered by the charity.

These volunteers look after the doggy mums like any other pet dog, and, when the time is right, help them to give birth at home to the next generation of guide dogs.

They can then enjoy the company of a litter of guide dog pups for around seven weeks, before they move out to start the early stages of their training.

Ruth said: “I was promised a pet dog when my brother turned three, in the end I had to wait until he was 39.

“What drew us to it was the fact that we would have a nice dog, we would be doing good for a charity, and it was something that we’d never do ourselves.”

In 2007 Ruth and her family were matched with their first guide dog mum, Yarna, a yellow Labrador.

Ruth continued: “When they brought Yarna out from the kennel block she just trotted towards us and we instantly knew she was the dog for us. She was just so full of character and had beautiful kind eyes. She really enhanced our family.”

Ruth, her husband and their three daughters threw themselves into looking after Yarna, especially when she had her first litter of puppies.

Ruth explained: “We all had our own individual roles. We had midwife Lucy, aftercare Charlotte and Alice wrote down all the notes.

“It was a wonderful experience for the girls to help with the puppies, and as they grew older it was lovely to play with them too.”

Ruth has looked after four guide dog mums since 2007, with three in her house at the moment – retired black Labrador Lola, Golden Retriever Georgia and Golden Retriever Labrador cross Rhoda who had her first litter this summer.

Ruth added: “We’ve had 89 puppies born in our house and they’ve been all sorts of different crosses and colours. And every single time it’s been a joyous experience. I think we are very fortunate to be in the position that we can have puppies in the house.

“We have support 24/7 from staff at Guide Dogs and we know we can ring them and ask a question if we have any issues. There is never a time when we don’t feel supported.

“Out of those 89 pups, the vast majority have qualified as guide dogs. To be able to have puppies that go on to provide such an important service to somebody is just an honour.

“It must be one of the best things we have ever done. We have had four beautiful dogs, who all come to us bouncy but well trained and beautifully bred.”

The charity currently urgently needs more breeding dog volunteers.

To find out more contact volunteering coordinator Verity O’Donnell via [email protected] or call 0800 781 1444.

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