Guide Dogs NSW/ACT are urgently seeking volunteer Puppy Raisers

Giving back: Rania Bursic with seven-month-old Ida, a black Labrador. Picture: Chris Lane
Giving back: Rania Bursic with seven-month-old Ida, a black Labrador. Picture: Chris Lane

Carramar resident Rania Bursic used her mother Janette’s declining eyesight as motivation to become a first-time guide dog puppy raiser.

“I look after mum and with her eyesight going it got me thinking that she is lucky she has got us to look after her and do things for her but a lot of people don’t have that – especially the young ones who lose their sight,” she said.

“So my husband (Stephen) and I decided to adopt a guide dog puppy and it has been fantastic.

“We take her to fortnightly training days at Parramatta Park and teach her basic dog training like how to sit and walk on a lead.”

The Bursic family were teamed up with Ida, a black Labrador in August.

The seven-month-old pup loves people – which is a good match because the Bursic family love animals.

As well as Ida, the family has three rescue cats which Ida enjoys chasing.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT are urgently seeking volunteer puppy raisers like the Bursic family to place 40 guide dogs puppies.

Puppy raising volunteers care for a guide dog puppy from when it is eight-weeks-old to 14-months-old, playing an invaluable role in preparing it for its career as a guide dog. They are responsible for everyday activities such as grooming, house training and exercising their pups.

Puppy raisers need to:

  • Have a fully-fenced yard.
  • Be away from home no more than four hours at a time.
  • Have access to a car.
  • Be able to attend training days in their local area.
  • Visit the Guide Dogs Centre near Windsor for information sessions, vet checks and Puppy Pre-School when required.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Puppy Development Manager, Karen Hayter said as well as providing lots of love and cuddles, puppy raisers help introduce pups to the sights, sounds and smells it is likely to encounter as a guide dog.

“We are looking for people that are home most of the time, who are interested in putting effort into training and socialising the dog. What you will get in return is a fantastic experience,” Ms Hayter said.

“We provide the food, veterinary care, flea and tick prevention and we’re always on hand to answer any questions and provide guidance to our puppy raisers.”

Ms Hayter said the demand for guide dogs’ services is increasing due to growing numbers of people having trouble getting around as a result of sight loss.

Every day in Australia, 28 people are diagnosed with sight loss that cannot be corrected, including nine who will become blind.

It takes over two years and costs more than $35,000 to raise breed, raise and train each guide dog who are provided at no cost to those who need them.

“We’re incredibly grateful for the support we receive from the community,” she said.

“Our volunteer puppy raisers make a wonderful contribution in helping to transform a playful puppy into a responsible guide dog that will one day change the life of someone who is blind or vision impaired.”

So what’s the hardest part of raising a guide dog puppy?

According to Ms Bursic, the answer is simple.

“Giving her back. That’s going to be the hardest part. She give lots of love. My son has already asked if we can take another one after Ida,” she said.

  • If you would like to become a Puppy Raiser for Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, apply online HERE  or call the Guide Dogs Centre on 4579 7555.