Puppy socialising could transform your life and help others

Theo and Jenny
Theo and Jenny

A charity is launching a new puppy socialising scheme in Bedfordshire, appealing for more volunteers to step forward and help its vital work.

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People desperately needs more dog lovers to apply to become puppy socialisers and is now seeking volunteers to care for adorable hearing dog puppies for one year.

Volunteers receive full support and guidance from Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and will learn to teach the puppy basic obedience skills.

Victoria Leedham, volunteering manager at the charity, said: “The new project will enable the charity to train more puppies to change the lives of deaf people, and we are now appealing for dog lovers in the area to apply to be a puppy socialising volunteer.

“Volunteering is an extremely rewarding experience, and puppy socialising is a great opportunity to learn or improve your dog-training skills - and meet lots of new friends along the way.”

Hayley Walker, a volunteer for just over 18 months, said: “I am a full-time carer for my son, Luke, who has a chronic gastro condition, alongside a number of behavioural learning issues and has been a patient of Great Ormond Street for many years. In 2014 I had no choice but to leave my job and business I had worked so hard to build over the previous 12 years. This period was dreadful for us all, as Luke’s struggles were very real, destroying his quality of life as well as my own.

“Things seemed very bleak indeed. Luke’s friendships he once had from previous years at school had completely dissolved, he became painfully shy and never wanted to leave his bedroom. He was so alone.

“Something needed to change. I felt we needed a project, something I could not only share with Luke but would still allow me to care for him. This is when I saw an advert in the local newspaper for Hearing Dog socialisers. I had no idea the transformation that was about to unfold.

“From the moment we were introduced to ‘Wilber’ our gorgeous cocker spaniel puppy, Luke and I were smitten! Luke instantly wanted to help and enjoyed helping me take this gorgeous puppy into shops and different environments. I could see something almost magical happening! Luke attended Wilber’s training classes and Wilber attended Luke’s medical appointment, something he would previously refuse to do. Everything became so much easier.

“To anybody thinking of becoming a Hearing Dog volunteer, I would say without hesitation to do it! It has changed our life so dramatically from where we were. Luke is now studying Animal Science full time at Shuttleworth College. I know 100% this would not have happened if I hadn’t made that phone call to Hearing Dogs.”

Puppies will be placed with their volunteer socialiser at around eight weeks of age and will work with them at home for around 14 months, before they return to the charity for further training.

Volunteers should be over 18, have enough time to care for and socialise a puppy on a daily basis, own a car and have access to a secure garden. Puppy socialising volunteers receive full support from Hearing Dogs, as well as regular home visits and puppy training classes.

Visit www.hearingdogs.org.uk/puppysocialising or email volunteer@hearingdogs.org.uk