A yellow guide dog in harness smiles at the camera

Fans of man’s best friend will have the exclusive chance to glimpse a day in the life of a trainee Guide Dog at the 2017 Sydney Dog Lovers Show. Held on August 5 and 6, dog enthusiasts will also have the opportunity to cuddle up to the latest litter of Labrador puppies and see Gulliver, the world’s largest Guide Dog.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT hopes to raise awareness of, and much-needed funds for, the important role Guide Dogs play in helping people who are blind or vision impaired to get around safely and independently, so they can live the life they choose.

“We are looking forward to giving guests the chance to see how much research, hard work and training goes into transforming playful puppies into life changing Guide Dogs during our demonstration at the Dog Lovers Show,” Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Guide Dog Services Manager Paul Adrian said.

The demonstration will include two trainee Guide Dogs completing an obstacle course that represents typical obstructions and dangers a person with sight loss faces in everyday life. One dog will be at the beginning of its training, while the other will be about to graduate, which will highlight just how much work goes into getting a Guide Dog ready for its career.

“It costs more than $35,000 to breed, raise and train each Guide Dog; which includes completing five months of intensive training at the Guide Dog Centre in Western Sydney. As we receive only two per cent of funding from the Government, we rely on the support of the community so that we can continue to provide freedom and independence to people with sight loss,” said Mr Adrian.

Representatives from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT will be available at the Guide Dogs stand to talk to guests about the Guide Dog program and ways in which they can help, such as becoming a Puppy Pal sponsor, or how to apply to become a volunteer Puppy Raiser.

“Being a Puppy Raiser is an incredibly rewarding experience, as well as an important element to the training of a Guide Dog. Once our puppies reach eight weeks of age they are placed with a volunteer Puppy Raiser, who cares for the pup for a year prior to beginning Guide Dog training,” Puppy Development Manager Karen Hayter said.

“Not only do Puppy Raisers provide crucial care and affection for the puppies, they also work closely with our Puppy Development team on basic training. During regular group training days Puppy Raisers help teach the dogs to sit and stay as well as how to adapt to different surroundings.”

Each dog spends its first year living with a volunteer Puppy Raiser and attending regular training sessions before starting the Guide Dog training program.

The Sydney Dog Lovers Show will be held Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 August 2017 at the Royal Hall of Industries and The Hordern Pavilion. A complete program of events is available at www.dogloversshow.com.au