Life Begins At » Puppy training program offers seniors a new ‘leash’ on life

Puppy training program offers seniors a new ‘leash’ on life

Guide Dogs Queensland are calling for more volunteers, particularly seniors, to sign up for their Puppy Raising Program ahead of the New Year, with up to 20 new pups looking for temporary homes.

Disability Services and Seniors Minister Coralee O’Rourke said Puppy Raisers were top of Guide Dogs Queensland’s Christmas wish list, with two new litters expected to ­arrive at the Bald Hills Breeding and Training Centre before Christmas, generating demand for up to 20 new carers for 2017.

“Raising a puppy involves caring for a potential guide dog from around eight weeks of age until they are up to 18 months and are ready to commence formal training,” Mrs O’Rourke said.

“Queensland seniors and retirees are uniquely positioned to take on these roles, which require a lot of time and care to familiarise the puppy with social settings, such as shopping centres, restaurants and public transport.

“By becoming a Puppy Raiser, older Queenslanders can benefit from the rewards of volunteering, as well as increased health and well-being associated with animal interactions and from being more active in the community.

“The last litters of the year will be born soon, and Guide Dogs Queensland are looking for raisers to take on these pups from early 2017, when they’re old enough to go to their new homes.

“So far, the Puppy Raising and dog boarding programs in South-East Queensland have already attracted around 60 senior volunteers – which is great for the individuals, the organisation and the pups.”

Mrs O’Rourke said the Puppy Raising Program was only available to volunteers living in South-East Queensland, however there were many more opportunities available to seniors throughout the state.

“Volunteers are needed in many different fields, from puppy raising to photography and fundraising – there are many great opportunities for seniors of all talents to lend a hand,” Mrs O’Rourke said.

“Last financial year, volunteers including more than 300 seniors, contributed around $16 million worth of man power to help transform playful puppies into responsible guide dogs.

“Volunteering is extremely rewarding, and I encourage older Queenslanders to open their hearts and homes to help raise the next generation of guide dogs and make a real difference in our community.”

Guide Dogs Queensland CEO Dan English said they would not be able to continue training guide dogs for Queenslanders without the generosity of their wonderful volunteers.

“Puppy raising is a unique way to contribute to your community, while also being able to enjoy the special bond and companionship that is built with our pups,” Mr English said.

“It is a great opportunity for retirees and seniors to be involved in a program that enables them to make a special contribution that will help to transform the lives of Queenslanders who are blind or vision impaired.”

The Palaszczuk Government has committed more than $700,000 this financial year to support Guide Dogs Queensland.

For volunteer opportunities with Guide Dogs visit

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Alana Lowes

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