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27 October, 2016

Ziggy, zig zags into Puppy Raisers arms

Ziggy the Guide Dog in training snuggles into Puppy Raiser, Prue's arm.

Volunteers thanked at special lunch

When Guide Dog in training, Ziggy, saw his Puppy Raiser across the kennels during a tour of the Guide Dogs Centre he couldn’t contain his excitement.

The blonde Labrador, who had been quietly sitting on his bed until that point, jumped up and ran across the room, his whole body wagging as he got a hug and a scratch from Prue Goodacre. 

It had been several months since the pair had seen each other and the reunion put a smile on the faces of the all the volunteers attending a special thank you lunch at the Guide Dogs Centre.  

Ziggy returned to the Guide Dogs Centre for intensive training after living with Prue about five months ago and aside from a quick cuddle when she saw him training in Hobartville, it was the first opportunity for a big bear hug. 

Helping out with a range of jobs

Volunteers who attended the special lunch at the Guide Dogs Centre pose for a photograph on the lawn.

Volunteers who help out with administration, puppy care, driving Gulliver - the world’s biggest Guide Dog - from place to place, dog and puppy transport and Puppy Raisers attended the special event to acknowledge the many hours of work they put into assisting Guide Dogs NSW/ACT. 

Prue, like many of the volunteers, is a regular friendly face at the centre. Not only does she help raise puppies by caring for them in her home until they are 12-14 months, but she also assists with administration and even answers the phones from time-to-time.

“I’m semi-retired so I have the time. I’ll often call the centre and say I have a few hours spare to pop up or just pop my head in,” she said.

Prue, who lives close to the centre in Richmond, was encouraged to take up Puppy Raising by her daughter after her two beloved cattle dogs passed away.

“I had two beautiful dogs from the same litter. The first one lived to 14 years and one of the worst things I have ever had to do was have her put to sleep. The second one only lived for another two years. I decided I couldn’t go through that again,” she said.

But the dog lover’s life was empty without a bouncy puppy to care for and keep her company, so she took a big step in becoming a temporary Puppy Raising carer, looking after puppies when the full-time raisers are on holiday.

“I still have all the names of the puppies I’ve looked after over the years on my fridge,” she said.

From there, Prue decided to become a full-time Puppy Raiser. One of the dogs she raised, Hildie, went on to graduate as a Guide Dog, but her success was no surprise for Prue. “She was going to be a Guide Dog from the day she was born. There was just something about her,” she said.

She does have a soft spot for Ziggy, who she affectionately refers to as a “beautiful man”. “He has such a great personality,” she said.

Although she said she would never have a dog of her own again, Prue’s heart went to Millie, who she decided to keep when she learnt she would not continue in the Guide Dog program.

“I volunteer with Guide Dogs as it is a great community service and allowed me to have a much-loved dog in my life,” Prue said. “It really has been a great and rewarding experience.”

Hearing about Salma's journey with Guide Dog, Jacie

At the volunteers lunch, Prue spent time with other likeminded individuals, who heard presentations from different staff at the centre along with a speech by Guide Dog handler, Salma Abdo, about how her Guide Dog, Jacie, allows her to live an independent and rich life. 

Two volunteers enjoying a chat at the lunch.

 “As we receive less than 2 per cent of our funding needs from the government, we rely heavily on the generosity of the community. Our volunteers are the lifeblood of our organisation,” Guide Dog Services Manager, Paul Adrian said. 

“With demand for Guide Dogs, which cost more than $35,000 each to breed, raise and train, and our other services growing due to increasing numbers of people experiencing vision loss, so does our reliance on the public’s generosity,” Paul said. 

“As such the work of our volunteers is becoming more and more important for raising funds and awareness that vision loss doesn’t have to limit a person’s independence.”

Two volunteers pose for a photograph.

Each year, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT highly trained Orientation & Mobility Specialists work with about 4,000 people of all ages to help them achieve their mobility goals. Programs are tailored to meet the lifestyle needs of each individual, and most training is delivered locally, in the person’s home, community or work environment.  

To find out more about volunteering click here.