Meet Guide Dog Puppy – Harper

Harper at 2 months old.

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Guide Dogs Victoria offers an internationally renowned standard of Guide Dogs as a result of world class breeding, puppy raising and training programs and are proud to be recognised as one of the five leading Guide Dog breeders in the world.

Their breeding program has been refined since 1965 and all puppies are bred to inherit the characteristics they need for the extraordinary demands of Guide Dog work.

About 130 Labrador puppies are bred at the Guide Dog Centre in Kew each year. Puppies born in the Breeding Centre remain with their mothers until they are weaned and are ready to be placed out in the community at six to eight weeks. During their first eight weeks, puppies are socialised on a daily basis, carefully nurtured from birth so they can fulfil their potential as exceptional mobility aids and true companions.

Due to the exceptionally high standards required for Guide Dog work, there will always be a number of dogs who are unsuitable for intensive Guide Dog training. These reclassified dogs make perfect companions for individuals and families; they become a “Pet as Therapy” dog and can play an important role in the emotional and physical development of children. They provide a source of love and companionship and an opportunity for children to learn firsthand about responsibility.

Guide Dogs Victoria also places a limited number of Companion Dogs with children, adolescents and adults with a physical or intellectual impairment. These companion dogs bring enjoyment not only to the person with the impairment, but also the whole family. Companion dogs offer unconditional love to their owner and the benefit of regular exercise, as they enjoy a daily walk together.

It costs Guide Dogs Victoria $35,000 and up to two years to breed, raise and train every working Guide Dog. However the impact they make to someone’s life is priceless. With our shareholders help we are pleased to sponsor an individual guide dog puppy for three years giving the gift of freedom, independence and mobility to someone who is blind or vision impaired.

This year we have sponsored Harper, a beautiful golden female puppy. Harper will be fostered from around seven weeks of age and before returning to Guide Dogs Victoria at approximately twelve months of age where she will undertake a five month intensive training program before being matched with a person with a vision impairment. Harper will be nurtured so that she becomes well socialised, confident and not readily distracted.

My, How I have Grown!

Harper-cropped

You may not have me yet but I am Harper, the newest puppy sponsored by Strathmore Community Services Limited and so thought I would bring you up to date on all of my adventures to date.

I am 5 months old now and I have settled into my new home and love it and my new family just adore me. I am growing and learning at a rapid rate and my puppy raiser is always surprised at what a bright young pup I am.

I am sleeping through the night and I am house trained too, something which my puppy raiser is over the moon with. I have recently learnt how to sit and wait nicely for my food and now I know that if I am patient I get to have my dinner a lot quicker. I have also started to go out for short walks down the street which is very exciting for me there is just so much to see and smell and there are so many different noises too. When I get home at the end of these walks I am exhausted from all the excitement so I usually have a nice long nap.

I have also been attending my puppy classes, this is exciting as it means I get to see my brothers and sisters and we always make such a fuss when we see each other.

I am doing very well at my classes, even with all the distractions. At the moment I am working hard at the training requirements we have been taught and I am doing well, although I do sometimes get distracted on my walks but who wouldn’t, the world is so exciting when you are my size.

Everyone says I am doing well although I am still young and have such a long way to go but I am so excited to continue on my Guide Dog journey.

I will continue to bring you up to date with my progress and look forward to telling you all about my graduation when I will move on to helping people living with a vision impairment live with greater mobility and independence and the families of children living with severe Autism, more comfort, safety and inclusion.

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