Jeanette How did you become a Puppy Raiser?

I have been volunteering at Guide Dogs Victoria (GDV) for just over 17 years. I have always loved Labradors: I received my first puppy at age 10 and I’ve had one—or more—in my life ever since then. I wanted to become a Puppy Raiser for a long time, but I thought I couldn’t because I always had my own dog. Then, I came across an advertisement in the newspaper asking for puppy raisers. I applied and much to my delight, you could become a Puppy Raiser with a pet dog in your home! That was the beginning of my wonderful experience.

Puppy Raiser Jeanette sitting by a garden bed and wearing a Guide Dogs hat

Jeanette What's the best thing about being a Puppy Raiser?

The best part is not only having a beautiful Guide Dog pup in your household to raise, but the wonderful friendships you form over the years. I find it lovely, and I feel very proud to walk down the street or around a shopping centre complex, because you see the smile that your Guide Dog puppy has brought to peoples’ faces. It’s always nice to stop and have a chat with a dear elder lady or gentleman who’s excited to tell you all about their dogs they’ve had over the years, or their present dog or cat. I’ve learned over the years that you need to be a very good listener—and make plenty of time—when you’re out and about with your Guide Dog pup. It’s a wonderful experience!

Jeanette's Guide Dog pup, lying down and wearing a trainee coat

Jeanette Would you recommend the experience of being a Puppy Raiser?

I most certainly would! I have recommended the experience to family and friends as Guide Dogs Victoria is such a wonderful organisation, offering the incredible Guide Dogs themselves, but also the many wider support services for everyone from children to older people.

Jeanette How would you describe the experience of being a Puppy Raiser?

Well, I’ve raised 14 puppies to date and it’s different every time. I’m currently raising two puppies together: they’re about three months apart in age, which has certainly required a lot of energy! Some days I feel like I’m continuously walking dogs because I have my own two older dogs to exercise as well: a retired Guide Dogs broodie and an English Staffy.

The pups need to go to the shops or head out to different environments a few times a week. It usually takes a couple of hours for each pup with a walk around the streets, or a play in the park. There is effort involved in being a Puppy Raiser, but it’s a lot of fun and incredibly rewarding too!

Three black guide dogs pups sitting in a field

Jeanette Has being a Puppy Raiser created any other positive experiences for you?

Absolutely! I initially started out as a Puppy Raiser and approximately two years later I was asked if I’d like to contribute to Guide Dogs Victoria in a different way. I joined a group of volunteers driving clients and their Guide Dogs to various appointments. Then, around 14 years ago, I became a puppy deliverer to first time puppy raisers: this brought me into the world of puppy nurturing. This is just one of the many jobs you could hope to be involved in at GDV.

About 10 years ago myself and another puppy raiser were employed by Guide Dogs Victoria to help raise donations and make the public more aware of our wonderful dogs.  We would go out to a large shopping centre once a month with pups in the puppy raising program—only once they were ready of course—and spread the word about Guide Dogs and the many services they provide. It was a great experience, not only for the dogs, but for the puppy raisers as well and, of course, the public loved us.

I still volunteer every Tuesday in the admin area now under Wendy Woods’ supervision where we have a ‘hoot’ of a time while we tackle many types of tasks.  The company is wonderful and a great environment for my pups to learn how to settle for quite a few hours.

I have been fortunate to form long lasting friendships with a couple of volunteers, which have enabled us to travel overseas and experience some wonderful holidays together.

A black guide dog pup in training, wearing a trainee coat and sitting by a dock

Jeanette What are you most looking forward to as a Puppy Raiser?

I am looking forward to the new building works which will provide a new and fresh environment for not only clients, staff and volunteers but for the whole wider community. I can’t wait for everyone to appreciate what wonderful work is being achieved at Guide Dogs Victoria, and for the public to become more aware of people with blindness and vision loss.