| YOU ARE VIEWING ARTICLE - ID:20130811030 |
|Title:||Volunteer Gives Incredible Service|
|Author:||Guide Dogs |
|ID & Publication:||20130811030 ~ The-Villager.co.uk |
When local resident Sue Thornhill read Sheila Hocken’s Emma and I in the 1970s, she never thought that it would be the start of an incredible commitment to charity which would last over 30 years. However, the book, which told the story of how Nottingham resident Sheila’s life was transformed by her guide dog, really struck a chord. Sue immediately decided to lend her support to the Guide Dogs charity, and has become one of the most devoted volunteers in the region. Since 1994, she has been a puppy walker, taking in pups for the first year of their lives, and preparing them for Guide Dogs’ intensive training. Incredibly, she is about to take in her 25th puppy, and says that her enthusiasm remains as strong as it did almost 20 years ago.
‘It’s an incredibly fulfilling thing to do,’ says Sue. ‘Living with such a young pup does have its share of highs and lows, but seeing them turn into confident guide dogs makes it all worthwhile. When I get to see them in training, I am always amazed at their abilities, and you can see the pride in their eyes when they qualify as a guide dog.’
Sue’s involvement was limited at first, as she did not live close enough to any puppy walking centres. However, once a new branch was opened in Nottingham in 1994, she was one of the first people they chose to call.
‘I still remember taking the call from Guide Dogs as if it were yesterday,’ she recalls. ‘At first, I couldn’t believe it – after all, they did ring me on April Fool’s Day! But it turned out to be true, and I took my first puppy that autumn.’
After helping with the development of so many prospective guide dogs, Sue has become an expert at giving them the start in life they need. Over her year with them, she introduces them to everything life as a working dog might throw at them, from negotiating busy city streets to getting used to the dreaded trips to the vets. Once the year is up, the experts at Guide Dogs take over – and it is this which, according to Sue, is the only downside to puppy walking.
‘It can be hard to hand over a puppy every year,’ she admits. ‘After all, they become a major part of my life while they are with me. But I know they are off to do some really important work, and I often get updates from them as they go through their working life. These dogs really do change the lives of their owners – and they’ve changed my life for the better too.’
If you would like to help change the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired by volunteering for Guide Dogs, contact David Clough on 08453 727424, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are no pictures to accompany this article
| Search Villager Archives for similar articles||[Top..]|