Volunteers needed to take in retired guide dogs

Swindon Advertiser: Swindon branch chairman Alan Fletcher with Joy Swindon branch chairman Alan Fletcher with Joy

KIND-HEARTED volunteers are needed to provide a loving home for guide dogs that have either retired or didn’t make the grade.

Swindon Guide Dogs is seeking people to adopt young dogs which have failed training or old dogs aged 10 or over which have come to the end of their working lives.

The dogs are usually Labradors, Labrador crosses, golden retrievers or German shepherds.

Alan Fletcher, branch chairman, who has a black labrador called Joy, said: “People offering to care for our withdrawn and retired dogs is an important service.

“If I retired Joy when she was 10, I would just like to think she was going to somewhere she is going to be looked after by people who want the dog.

“And it would bring peace of mind because I know she is going to be somewhere that’s a good home and she’s going to be loved.”

Most guide dogs pass training but some are withdrawn due to a known health problem or a temperament issue, such as being hyperactive or being unable to ignore cats.

Young withdrawn dogs are offered firstly to another working home, often as a ‘buddy dog’ for visually impaired children, and are then offered to Assistance Dogs UK, a group of charities which places dogs at organisations such as Customs and Excise.

If still refused, they are offered to the animal’s original puppy walker, and if the offer is still declined then a suitable private household is chosen.

Retired dogs are offered to their original owner or a home which may have been nominated by the owner, and finally to the puppy walker, before a member of the public is sought.

To be eligible, an owner must agree not to be away from the dog for more than four hours in a 24-hour period, they must have a secure garden, and they must have somewhere safe to free-run the dog. People can also state what age of dog they are willing to adopt.

Lesley Ognibeni, the charity’s rehoming officer, said: “We need a reasonable array of homes because it’s people with children who tend to ring Guide Dogs because they expect them to come with a halo.

“But if you have got a particularly boisterous dog, it’s probably not going to be good for people with young children. So we need all sorts of people.”

Janet Nelson, of Marlborough, has adopted two retired Labrador retrievers – 13-year-old Hannah and 10-year-old Jo.

She said: “From my point of view they are just wonderful and I just hope that they’re enjoying their retirement as much as I’m enjoying them.”

The charity charges anything from £300 for a young, fit dog to just a small donation for an old retired dog. Call 0845 372 7438 or visit www.guidedogs.org.uk

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