Puppies held a special party in a bid to recruit new volunteers

BOUNDING with energy and keen to help – Scotland’s cleverest puppies have been learning everything they need to know to help change lives.

They will grow up to become assistance dogs and they will help boost the independence of people with physical disabilities.

But last week it was all about letting their fur down and having some fun as charity Canine Partners held puppy parties in a bid to recruit more volunteers.

The charity is looking for special volunteer ‘puppy parents’ that can look after puppies during their first year and help them with their first stages of training with lots of support and advice from Canine Partners’ team.

Dozens of people attended the two events at Currie Community Centre in Lanark and at Rouken Glen Pavillion in Glasgow to meet the puppies and current volunteers and to find out more.

Black Labrador Yogi who is four months old was at the Lanark event with his puppy parent Louise Miller, a retired teacher from Bridge of Allan near Stirling.

Louise, 50, a mum-of-four from Bridge of Allan near Stirling said: “I applied to Canine Partners earlier this year as I had time on my hands and an interest in dogs.

“I’m particularly interested in assistance dogs and the difference they can make. I also have two autoimmune diseases, sarcoidosis and fibromyalgia so I may need one myself in the future.

“Being a puppy parent is a really interesting thing to do. I’m learning and it’s very rewarding but it is a big commitment because you want to do a good job.

“We’re an animal loving family and we’re very happy to have Yogi – he fits in well.

“The fact that he will go on to improve a disabled person’s life is also a huge motivation.

“People always ask how we can give the dogs up when they begin their advanced training but I’m looking at the bigger picture and trying to be selfless. He’s going to be happy as a working dog.”

Meanwhile, guests at the Glasgow event met six-month-old Ursa, a Labrador cross golden retriever and her puppy parent Marjorie Johnston.

Marjorie, 60, a mum-of-three from Kilmarnock in East Ayrshire said: “I had been involved in the charity in other ways, but then I had a bit of time on my hands so decided to become a puppy parent.

“People say it must be hard giving the puppy up but you have to think about what they end up doing. When you see an active partnership it makes it all worthwhile.

“My puppy training group is friendly and a good community. We sometimes meet up outside our puppy training classes for a coffee together.

“It’s very social and it’s great to see the puppies’ progress. It’s fun taking them around the shops and introducing them to new things and places.”

The recruitment drive comes as the growing charity aims to boost the number of volunteers so that it can meet an increasing demand for its dogs.

Canine Partners’ Scotland puppy trainer Verity Bowells added: “We had a great time at our puppy parties and it was fantastic to see lots of people who are interested in volunteering with us and looking after one of our amazing puppies while they train to become assistance dogs.

“It is vital that Canine Partners recruits more puppy parents so that we can help change the lives of more disabled people.

“Without these essential volunteers, we cannot train the numbers of dogs that are needed.

“By taking a puppy into their homes our volunteers know they can make an enormous difference and give someone back their independence.”

There’s still time to sign up and become a volunteer puppy parent for Canine Partners, which currently has 30 working assistance dogs in Scotland.

Puppy parents receive full ongoing support, both at their homes and at puppy training classes. Food, equipment, vet bills and temporary holiday care is provided.

For more information call 01730 716017 or visit caninepartners.org.uk/puppyparents.

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