Firstly, I want to say that I tremendously admire the work done by the Irish Guide Dogs and especially the dog trainers down in Cork. I’ve communicated with some wonderful trainers over the years who have done a fantastic job with the puppies I’ve been lucky enough to raise.

I’m currently raising my 7th puppy, and get huge enjoyment out of it. I remember vividly going to my first puppy class with Paco and feeling so shocked when one man and his kids came in with their 10th puppy. There was no way I could think of parting with Paco even when I’d only had him a few weeks, and these people had managed to let go of 6 puppies, AND they had kids that survived doing that too!

People always ask how (and sometimes ‘why’) do you do it, how can you give them away?,  

For me it’s not that complicated, I’ve always loved dogs and if I couldn’t puppy raise a dog then I couldn’t have a dog in my life. My work takes me out for whole days at a time and I couldn’t leave a dog at home alone all day. With these puppies all I need is a puppy jacket and off we go together!

I’m not making any kind of comparison, but having epilepsy causes me frustration as it prevents me driving, this is obviously nothing in the scheme of things but if there’s something I can do to lessen someone else’s frustration / facilitate their independence, then that makes me feel good.

Not being able to drive means I go everywhere on public transport which provides an excellent opportunity for puppy training as I bring the pup everywhere with me.

Those are good reasons for getting a Guide Dog puppy but there are others which lead to having number 7 now.

The main reason, and what the Irish Guide Dogs don’t tell you when you get your first puppy, is that once you’ve given your first puppy away you can’t stop crying until you get a replacement puppy!!

Also since starting the puppy raising, I’ve been stopped by so many people who want to chat, and many who are desperate to get a Guide Dog for a visually impaired person they know, or an Assistance Dog for their child with autism, and then many who would be perfect puppy raisers but say they could never do it as they’d not be able to give the pup back. This serves to reinforce the worth of puppy raising.

Then there’s simply the pleasure of being able to make someone else’s day. 

Not me obviously – my puppy! 

Not many people don’t smile when they see a puppy, especially a tiny one in a jacket. I love being able to give so much happiness to so many people without having to do anything other than my puppy spreading love to anyone who sees him!

I’ve so many memories of lovely people I’ve met, chatted to, and been ‘guided’ by (people very often assume you’re blind), at the risk of sounding cliche these encounters restore your faith in humanity.

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