Have you ever seen a Royal Society for the Blind (RSB) Guide Dog ‘out and about’ with their owner and wondered how they become so well-trained?
I know I have. Regularly. But then, I don’t really ‘get’ dogs. I don’t hate them or anything. I’m just not one of those people that really likes animals around. Except RSB Guide Dogs. There’s just something fascinating and heart warming about their skilled nature and ability to ‘guide’ and assist those who are blind or vision impaired.
These little heroes help their owners move safely and confidently through their environments, including avoiding overhead obstacles such as low branches and negotiating road crossings. Not to mention, these ‘working’ dogs are welcome EVERYWHERE: cafes, workplaces, public transport, theatres, restaurants, schools, hospitals and shopping centres. They are allowed to go anywhere a vision impaired person needs to go.
But while there is a particular breed that is most suitable for becoming a RSB Guide Dog, they’re not born one. They are taken through a comprehensive training program that prepares them for all aspects of home life and their requirements to become an invaluable mobility aid and effectively assist a vision impaired person to navigate themselves throughout their daily activities.
Who educates them?
Despite the specialist training required, every day people in every day homes living every day lives can educate these dogs to help them on their way to becoming a RSB Guide Dob. And The RSB is always looking for more ‘every day’ people, just like you, to join their volunteer training program.
Who can become a RSB Puppy Educator?
Quite simply, YOU can. RSB Puppy Educators come from a variety of backgrounds, including (but not restricted to) stay-at-home parents and those who are employed or retired. Children and pets in the household are a bonus as they provide good socialisation opportunities for the pup. Adopting a RSB Puppy will mean you get to care for and train a dog, from the gorgeous age of eight weeks, for about twelve months in your own home, with your own family and following your own routines. The RSB will even pay for your puppy’s expenses! Plus, don’t forget that with them you get immediate VIP [Very Important Pup!] access 🙂
What does it take to become a RSB Educator?
The RSB will provide all of the equipment required to make your pup feel at home, including food and bedding. If you’re over 18 years of age and have a safe and suitable area to toilet and exercise the pup, all you will then need is:
- to undergo a police check, interview and property inspection
- pre-training before pup arrives
- an area where your pup can sleep indoors
- to follow RSB guidelines in relation to training, diet and looking after the pup.
- ability to transport a pup safely
- able to attend regular training with RSB staff during business hours
With such important careers ahead of them, these puppies need a good start in life. You are provided with specialist training and support to assist you and the pup through the various learning stages.
What if I don’t want to say 'goodbye'?
Saying ‘goodbye’ is never easy – especially when such a bond is created between you and the RSB Guide Dog pup. But the ultimate reward for a RSB Puppy Educator is having the opportunity to meet the blind or vision impaired recipient of the dog who you raised. So rather than say ‘goodbye’ to a pup, wish it well on its next journey.
Where do I sign up?
To become a RSB Puppy Educator or to find out more information, the RSB holds regular free information sessions. Please contact the RSB Guide Dog Service on (08) 8417 5656, email [email protected]; or visit the RSB website www.rsb.org.au