THE charity Guide Dogs is appealing for volunteers who could help raise a guide dog puppy for their first year.
Pups from the charity are placed with volunteers at around seven weeks of age, remaining with them until they are around a year old.
They then head off to a training centre to begin their specialised guide dog training.
Puppy walker Alex Willetts has just started looking after her first guide dog puppy, Hilly, who is a German Shepherd.
Alex already looks after Hilly’s Mum, Yara, with the help of her husband and three sons.
“I decided to become a puppy walker because I wanted to get more involved with the charity and give something new a go,” said Alex.
Over the next year, Alex will be helping Hilly learn basic commands, get used to social environments and travelling on public transport.
“I’m really looking forward to watching Hilly grow, seeing her personality develop and seeing if she is like her mum,” she said.
“People often say how can you let them go, but it gets to the point at around 12 months where you can see they’re eager to learn more.
“It’s bittersweet, but you want them to go and do well.
“We all know the end goal and that’s to help someone with sight loss get out and about and be independent,” she added.
Volunteer puppy walkers must be aged 18 or over and Guide Dogs cover all feeding and veterinary costs.
For more information on becoming a puppy walker call Heather Gelder on 0118 983 8253 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.