Volunteering Sunshine Coast

Carer Bruce and Seeing Eye Dog in Training Misty

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How did you find out about becoming a puppy carer? 

My wife found out about puppy caring in a local magazine. From there, we thought about it on and off for some time. When COVID-19 hit, we decided it was the right time to apply as we were settled at home and ready for the commitment.  

We have really enjoyed the program and to be honest it has had some unexpected benefits – going out with our puppy every day is really good exercise. I’ve been losing weight!  

How long have you been a puppy carer? 

Misty is the first puppy we have cared for. She came into our care in October 2020.  

Can you tell me a bit about the puppy you have at the moment?  

Misty is a yellow Golden Retriever. When she came to us she was 10 weeks old and weighed 8kg. She’s now nine months old (May 2021) and she weighs 24kg!  

She is one of the most lovely puppies I have come across. She never barks, she’s sociable and she never touches anything in the house. The only thing she’s ever chewed are my wife’s slippers! She’s the perfect puppy to be honest! She’s been very easy to care for.   

Misty will have an assessment at 10 months old. Then, at 12 months old, she will be assessed to see if she’s ready to move into training or breeding.   

We recently also cared for a male Labrador puppy for a week while Misty was in kennels on heat. It was a good opportunity to compare him to how Misty was doing. He got into some mischief!  

What do you have to do as a puppy carer? 

As a puppy carer, we need to provide general care for Misty. We provide a roof over her head, food and water, we monitor her health and we give her love.  

With respect to training, we take her out twice a day for walking – either on the street or through shopping areas.  

Misty comes with me everywhere – to the doctors, anywhere! She just lays there and waits. People don’t mind at all. There’s never any problems in places like shopping centres.  

It’s really good because you can take her where other dogs can’t go.  

Initially our Puppy Development Trainer, Tracey, would see me once a week. After three months, that changed to once a fortnight.  

Tracey watches me lead Misty on walks. Really, she’s training me as well as Misty; giving me advice, which I pass onto the puppy. Tracey is always monitoring that Misty is up to date for her age.  

In a recent training session, we went to a shopping centre. We spent time outside and did some stairs. Then we went inside and had a coffee – Tracey observed Misty, taking notice of whether she was fidgeting. Misty did really well.  

How does Vision Australia support you?  

Vision Australia provides all food, collars, bedding, and a crate. They also cover vet costs.   

Tracey has been really supportive; she’s very experienced in her job and is always ready to help.  

Do people often ask you if it’s hard when the puppy leaves for training?  

Everyone asks whether it will be hard when Misty leaves us. My answer is that I knew right from the start that I’d have to let her go.  

What would you say to anyone thinking about becoming a puppy carer?  

I’d tell anyone that is thinking about becoming a puppy trainer that it’s wonderful, but they have to be prepared to put the time in and commit to the training.   

You need to accept that the puppy will be inside your house and will be part of the family – this meansa lot of dog hair!  

It really has been an eye opener as to how the program works. I didn’t know that it’s really the low vision person, rather than the dog, that does the guiding. Working and living with one of these animals is an amazing experience. When you put in the work, they really give back.  

Is there anything else you would like to share about being a puppy carer?  

We have really loved the experience.  

We would definitely do it again – as a puppy carer or a foster carer. We’d like to be able to use all the experience we’ve gained again.