A charity hosted a ‘puppy party’ to help recruit volunteers to help train assistance dogs.
Canine Partners transforms the lives of people with physical disabilities by partnering them with specially-trained dogs.
Hosted at Titchfield Community Centre, the party invited people to find out more about becoming a puppy parent, with talks from the trainers and demonstrations from current puppies in training.
The event was organised by trainer Rosie Reid, who provides support to the new ‘parents’ who are responsible for raising the specially-bred dogs and giving them basic command training.
Rosie said: ‘I help place the puppies and take them to their puppy parents’ homes. I settle them in and get them used to the routine that they do and support the puppy parents 24 hours a day via classes and home visits.
‘We do a lot of training aspects with the dogs. We go to towns and do some socialisation, including using public transport. We have classes for obedience and manners, group walks and day trips so the dogs get used to all aspects of life.
‘Together we raise the puppy and train them to be the wonderful assistance dogs we have here today.’
Hazel Clutten, who has been a puppy parent twice and is training black Labrador Forester, added: ‘ I love working with dogs and it is very rewarding especially when you see them working with their partners.’
The dogs usually spend 12 to 14 months with their ‘parents’ before entering advanced training, where their skills are honed before becoming a fully-trained canine partner and getting matched with someone on the waiting list.
Martin Smailes, 58, who uses a wheelchair due to a spinal injury, has been working with his canine partner, golden labrador Keith, for over three years.
Martin, a lecturer at Chichester College, said: ‘I went from being a normal guy living a normal life to someone who became negative about everything.
‘Eventually I applied to Canine Partners and that was the start of an experience that has changed not just my life but my family’s life beyond my wildest expectations.’
For more information about becoming a puppy parent, visit caninepartners.org.uk/