Some of the county’s cleverest puppies are having a party – and they’re inviting residents to join them.
People will have a chance to meet puppies that are training to become assistance dogs for charity Canine Partners, at Happy Dog Training, Bedford Road, Clapham, on Thursday, March 16, from 10.30am until 12.30pm.
The dogs will one day help disabled people with everyday tasks including opening doors, picking up items and helping with washing machines while boosting their partner’s independence.
The party will also feature demonstrations from existing puppy parents showcasing some of the skills they teach the dogs and people will have a chance to speak to trainers and volunteers.
It comes as Canine Partners is urgently recruiting more people to become puppy parents, also known as puppy walkers, special volunteers who look after and help train future assistance dogs in their homes until they are about 12 to 14-months-old.
The volunteers provide early socialisation, taking the puppy into different environments and introducing it to different people, objects and animals so that it is confident and happy in any situation it may encounter when it begins working with a disabled person.
They also help with basic obedience and skills training, with support from one of the charity’s experienced puppy trainers.
Among the charity’s current volunteers is Carol Lloyd, who has been a puppy parent for 10 years and is currently looking after her 13th puppy, nine-month-old Milo.
The 56-year-old school cleaner from Wootton, said: “I liked the idea of having a dog but also having a purpose to it.
“Rather than having a pet dog we have a canine partner puppy and we know how the early training is going to benefit someone.
“It is sad when a puppy leaves you to start its advanced training but all the heartache is worthwhile when you understand the difference it will make to someone’s life.
“It’s a really nice way of having a dog. It’s fantastic seeing the difference a dog makes to someone’s life.
“In Bedford we have a fantastic support group so you’re never on your own and we have a fantastic satellite trainer in Lorraine.”
Canine Partners’ Bedford puppy trainer Lorraine Lotan said: “I am incredibly lucky to work with a wonderful team of volunteer puppy and foster parents.
“But it’s important that this dedicated team grows so that we can train even more puppies that will go on to change disabled people’s lives.
“We have a fantastic team here in Bedford who all help and support each other and not just with raising the pups. Great friendships have been made.
“Training the pups is very rewarding. We have weekly training sessions and I regularly see the pups individually to help and support the puppy parents.
“Knowing the dogs we have trained will go on to change someone’s life and bring them so much joy and happiness is a fantastic feeling.
“I’m extremely excited about hosting a puppy party and meeting potential new volunteers.”
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/puppyparties