Adorable puppies start Guide Dogs journey

Published 3:30pm 28 February 2024

Adorable puppies start Guide Dogs journey
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

The next generation of Guide Dogs are set to embark on the first stage of their journey this week.

A total of seven adorable black labrador puppies, who were born in December to mum Queenie, will be the first litter to leave the nursery and enter the Puppy Raisers program in 2024.

In each Guide Dog litter all the puppy’s names begin with the same letter, and these pups from the U litter are no exception!

Over the next six months, Ultra, Uno, Uri, Unity, Ulani, Usman and Ulrich will learn to establish good toileting, feeding, sleeping and walking routines, as well as learn basic skills like how to sit nicely when being groomed, walking well on a lead, and good house manners.

Guide Dogs Queensland’s Corporate Partnership Advisor Victoria Shaw says when the puppies grow up, they will bring joy, independence and mobility to people living with vision loss.

“A working Guide Dog can change a person’s circumstances for life,” Victoria says.

“The role of a Guide Dog is not only to provide companionship to someone with low vision or blindness, but to also give them a new sense of freedom.

“A Guide Dog helps people regain the ability to do things many of us take for granted like catching public transport, going to school or work, connecting with friends and family, or simply moving through the community with confidence.

“These dogs can navigate obstacles more easily. They can go places that were previously impossible.”

It will take two years for these puppies to become qualified, life-changing Guide Dogs.

“The puppies go to dedicated Puppy Raisers when they are 10 weeks old, and will stay with them for around six to seven months before moving on to their second stage of Puppy Raisers,” Victoria says.

“The Puppy Raisers provide them with a loving home environment, train them and take them to puppy classes.

“We have several people who are repeat Puppy Raisers, and yes, they get attached to the pup, but they understand the bigger picture, which is that the puppy will change the life of someone living with vision loss or blindness.

“When they are a little older, the puppies will transition to the formal stage of their training and undergo an intensive five-month Guide Dog training program.”

Labradors are chosen to become Guide Dogs because they are highly trainable, intelligent, calm, and can readily transfer their affection and loyalty from one person to another without complication.

Some of the more complex demands the dogs will learn during their training include:

  • Travelling confidently through crowds and busy streets.
  • Walking on the left-hand side of their handler in a straight line.
  • Stopping at all kerbs and waiting for a command before crossing the road.
  • Avoiding obstacles.
  • Travelling on public transport.
  • Laying quietly and behaving calmly in all social situations.

To see more pictures, click through the gallery below.

Worth every dollar

It takes two years and more than $50,000 to breed, raise and train every working Guide Dog.

With a litter of seven puppies, that’s over $350,000, which is why your support is vital.

“Guide Dogs receive 15 percent funding from the Government, which means 85 percent of our funding comes from the community,” Victoria says.

“We rely heavily on the community to ensure we can continue the important work we do.

“Whether it comes from money dropped into our collection dogs or through sponsorships, every dollar counts.”

Your generous support will help people with vision loss achieve their goals for greater independence.

Some of the ways you can support through your workplace include volunteering at an Impact Day, making a personal or corporate donation, sponsoring a litter of puppies, or hosting a workplace or community fundraiser.

Victoria says there are some extra benefits for businesses who sign up to become a corporate sponsor.

“One of the perks is you get to name a litter of puppies with the next letter of the alphabet,” Victoria says.

“You will also get to see the puppies when they are six weeks old and follow their journey to becoming a fully trained Guide Dog.

“This includes coming to our Guide Dog Graduation ceremony and celebrating the incredible work of clients and the dogs.

“There is also the opportunity for us to bring the puppies to your workplace.

“One of our main priorities is providing workplaces with access to training to ensure their workplaces are accessible to people with low vision or blindness, as well as provide some general knowledge around disability advocacy.

“We can do that on-site, or during one of our impact days.”

An Impact Day is hosted onsite at the Guide Dogs Nursery and Training Centre in Bald Hills and includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the Guide Dogs campus and facilities, the chance to meet some Guide Dogs in training or puppies, and the opportunity to take part in educational, hands-on activities and gain insight into what day-to-day tasks are like for someone with low vision or blindness.

Find out more

For more information about Guide Dogs Queensland, visit their website or follow them on Facebook.

You can also find more information about corporate sponsorships here.


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