More than 30 people attended a special puppy party at Canine Partners’ Southern Training Centre in Heyshott.
The event was held as the charity begins a huge recruitment drive for more volunteer puppy parents, who take assistance dogs in training into their homes until they are 12 to 14 months old.
The new volunteers will help the growing charity train even more dogs as it works to meet the rising demand.
The volunteers provide early socialisation, taking the puppy into different environments and introducing it to different people, objects and animals so that it is confident and happy in any situation it may encounter when it begins working with a disabled person.
They also help with basic obedience and skills training, with support from one of the charity’s experienced puppy trainers.
Among the charity’s current puppy parents are grandparents-of-three Christine, 65, and Philip Louis, 69, from Goring-by-Sea who are currently looking after their seventh puppy for Canine Partners, a 14 week old Labrador cross golden retriever called Stefan.
Christine, a retired secretary and mum of two, said: “I like being a puppy parent because I enjoy giving something back to the community by helping a disabled person regain their independence.
“It’s a great interest to have and an opportunity to help somebody else. It keeps you on your toes and it’s sociable because you meet lots of people. The puppy training classes are helpful too. It’s good fun.
“It is upsetting when the dogs leave to start their advanced training but that’s nothing when you see them working with their partner and know how much they have transformed their life.”
Puppy training supervisor Elaine Potter said: “Our first puppy party was a big success and lots of people have already shown an interest in signing up.
“It is vital that Canine Partners recruits more puppy parents so that we can help change the lives of more disabled people.
“Without these essential volunteers, we cannot train the numbers of dogs that are needed.
“By taking a puppy into their homes our volunteers know they can make an enormous difference and give someone back their independence.”
There’s still time to sign up and become a volunteer puppy parent for Canine Partners.
Puppy parents receive full ongoing support, both at their homes and at puppy training classes. Food, equipment, vet bills and temporary holiday care is provided.
For more information call 01730 716017 or visit caninepartners.org.uk/puppyparties.
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