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Sally is a first-time puppy carer from Geelong who wanted to share her experiences in the Seeing Eye Dogs puppy carer program.

Why did you want to become a Seeing Eye Dogs puppy carer?

We have always had cats. Last year we had a couple of weekends away with some friends who have a dog and it showed us how much we really love spending time with dogs!

Rather than go out and get a dog of our own, I thought this would be a good way to understand how to look after a pup - also because my daughter Lucy has been nervous around dogs and I wanted her to get comfortable.The pups basically come with a manual and all the support you could ever need so it's a great idea for first time dog people.

What support do you receive from Seeing Eye Dogs?

We have Paige, a puppy development trainer who we are in touch with regularly. When Seeing Eye Dogs puppy Sergo first arrived we would see her once a week for some basic training, education and advice, she's super supportive and encouraging! We also have a local community group of carers on Facebook we chat to.

What do you love about being a puppy carer?

It is honestly the most joyous experience you will ever have - everyone loves a puppy and wants to know all about them. But the joy he brings us on a daily basis is amazing - you can't help but smile. He has helped us make all sorts of friends.

What is the training like?

It's great because before pup arrives you get a carers guide which goes through the basic and advanced information so it's always on hand to refer to. Plus, regular training with Paige, as well as group sessions like at the shopping centre and train station - we get around!

What is it like having the puppy in your home?

Delightful - he sleeps in a crate and spends a lot of time in it during the day. We don't have a huge house but with regular walks and then playing he's fine just hanging out. We don’t leave him at home a lot (he can be left for 3 hours in his crate) due to COVID but now when I do leave him I miss him!

Puppy carer Sally and her daughter with Seeing Eye Dog in training Sergo
Puppy carer Sally and her daughter with Seeing Eye Dog in training Sergo

How do you incorporate the pup into your social life?

He is at my side a lot and fits in anywhere. Yesterday we had lunch at a winery and he lay in the sun and was very happy. We take him everywhere - visiting relatives, shopping, trips up to Melbourne on the train, across to Sorrento on the ferry, and to the movies. He's very settled in the car and will often snooze or chew on something tasty.

What has the puppy caring journey been like so far?

In one word, joyful. It's physical in that when he was little there was a lot of bending down and playing on the floor. The side benefit to having him is that I'm definitely fitter. Watching him grow and learn is a delight - and when he's being trained you can really see how quickly they understand what to do.

How hard will it be to give the pup back?

Oh, so hard, but we are doing this because we want him to go and change someone's life. We are a small part of a big picture and thrilled to be able to help. Over Christmas I was thinking "We love him, but there's someone out there in the community who needs him and hopefully he'll go change their life sooner rather than later".

Would you become a puppy carer again?

Oh yes, I'm hooked. I'll be caring for pups for as long as Vision Australia lets me!

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