We want you to get to know the #PAWsome humans that make the work we do possible! So, meet Josephine, a former Puppy Raiser and Fundraising Volunteer who has adopted Ambassador Dog Oak into her family!

Josephine and Ambassador Dog Oak fundraising as part of our HEROES appeal
Josephine and Ambassador Dog Oak fundraising as part of our HEROES appeal

Who are you and where do you volunteer?

My name is Josephine Treacy living in Limerick City,

In what ways do you volunteer for us?

When I retired from work I applied to be a Puppy Raiser with Irish Guide Dogs and was accepted.

I puppy raised three dogs; a Labrador Retriever, a Labradoodle and a German Shepard Retriever Cross.

I adopted the last dog, Oak, as he failed one important criteria to be a Guide Dog and since then he assists me with fundraising events in Limerick City for Irish Guide Dogs and is very popular with the generous public who contribute to the charity.

How long have you been volunteering for Irish Guide Dogs?

I have been volunteering with Irish Guide Dogs since 2005 when I became a Puppy Raiser to Gable!

Why do you volunteer for Irish Guide Dogs?

I have always been a lover of all animals and had been fostering dogs for local Animal Welfare Rescue and enjoy training dogs to be good pets so was attracted to training puppies for Irish Guide Dogs as I had the interest, time [and patience!!] and facilities to give it a go!

I enjoyed giving the puppies their basic training of course with the supervision and guidance of the Puppy Raising Supervisor who visited us on a regular basis and helped to solve any difficulties we might encounter.

Josephine and Ambassador Dog Oak with South West Volunteer Coordinator Katie Kiely

What’s the best thing about volunteering with Irish Guide Dogs?

I find puppy raising to be worthwhile for the following reasons:

One of my puppies, when fully trained, was placed as an Assistance Dog with a young boy with autism in Dublin. I was overwhelmed to tears on receiving an unexpected phone call from the boy’s mother over a year later, thanking me for rearing the puppy and to Irish Guide Dogs for improving the quality of life for her family and her young son!!

It’s an essential support to getting puppies to the stage where they can begin advanced training at headquarters at 12 to 14 months of age. By that time, the volunteer puppy raisers would have the puppy toilet trained and responding to basic commands and socialised on how to behave in restaurants and shopping centres. The dog will also be familiar with travelling in cars, buses and trains, and be familiar with noises such as ambulance sirens, heavy vehicles, fireworks etc.

I loved the challenge of communicating with the puppy and succeeding in getting him/her to eventually do what I requested because he/she enjoyed it; and maybe the treat helped too!

It is really the training all dogs should have but there is some specific training areas which apply to Guide Dog puppies which are explained to us by experienced Puppy Raising Supervisors.