Puppy love and loss: the special life of guide dog trainer

BC Guide Dogs needs a new cadre of volunteer trainers

Lots of love followed by a moment of heartache — it’s not the usual pitch for volunteers.

With two litters born this week and one more on the way next month, B.C. and Alberta Guide Dogs is looking for a new cadre of puppy trainers.

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It means committing yourself to training an adorable puppy for several months and then being willing to say goodbye once it’s reached the age for advanced training.

Courier editor-in-chief Martha Perkins created this video of a training day with B.C. Guide Dogs in November of 2014.

Since its inception in 1996, B.C. Guide Dogs has provided 121 guide dog teams and 40 autism support dog teams. However, its wait list has been closed for the past couple of years because demand for the specially trained dogs exceeds the number of program graduates. It takes two years and $35,000 to produce one certified dog.

With so many puppies on the way, the association’s current roster of volunteers already has its hands full.

To be eligible as a volunteer puppy trainer you must:

• be available for training during the day at least three times a month

• be willing to take the puppy with you everywhere you go

• be strong enough to control a large dog

• provide a dog-friendly home with a secure outdoor space, such as a fenced yard, and

• follow the association’s guidelines.

All food and vet costs are covered by the association, which also provides ongoing training.

If you are interested, please contact Matthias Lenz, puppy training supervisor, at matthias.lenz@bcguidedog.com or call 604-940-4504.

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