The main breed is Labradors or Labrador/Golden Retriever cross breeds. Photo: Ben Owen

A paw-some thing to do

By Katie O'Keeffe

Do you want to be a foster paw-rent?

At eight weeks old puppies with the Irish Guide Dogs begin their journey to becoming a guide dog for a person who is vision impaired, or an assistance dog for a family of a child with autism.

This journey starts in the homes of puppy raising volunteers which Irish Guide Dogs are currently looking for in Cork.

The charity needs kind individuals and families who are willing to foster a puppy from the age seven-eight weeks to 12-15 months.

Erin McDonald, Irish Guide Dogs shared services supervisor, looks after puppy raising: “120 pups are the strategic plan for 2022 however we can predict only so much depending on litter size so that is our provisional goal.” The charity has its own breeding programme which so far this year has produced seven litters.

The puppies are also sourced abroad from countries such as France, England and Croatia. The main breed is Labradors or Labrador/Golden Retriever cross breeds.

First time Cork-based puppy raiser Virginia O’Sullivan described her experience as a puppy raiser as “life changing”.

She added: “I have had dogs growing up but since taking this on I really realise how an animal can give so much to people, they become a huge rewarding part of your life.”

Virginia said she decided to help the Irish Guide Dogs last March when knew she had the time to give due to Covid-19 restrictions.

“To help raise a guide dog is a lot of work and I will find it very hard to say goodbye when our time is up but I know everyday that this dog is going to do amazing work helping a family or individual in need,” she added.

Anyone interested in raising a puppy should know that the puppy will live in your home under the direction of the charity’s Early Training Team who will help you to teach basic rules and obedience.

At approximately 14 months you will say goodbye to the puppy as they move into a Training Centre with Irish Guide Dog’s highly skilled trainers and the hard work towards graduating as a guide dog begins. If you are interested you must have no more than two other dogs in the home and they must be sociable, well behaved and neutered. The puppy cannot be left alone for prolonged periods of time and must have access to a secured outdoor area. To find out more visit