“It’s very worthwhile… it’s given us so much as well. It really is a lovely experience.”
They may only live with them for a comparatively short time, but the pups in our programs leave pawprints that last a lifetime on the hearts of the volunteers who raise them.
Maggie Brzozowski and Chris White say the loss felt when handing back a dog they have socialised, cared for and loved, is outweighed by the pride and joy of seeing the difference that dog can make for a vision-impaired Tasmanian.
Maggie and Chris were puppy raisers for Derek, who was placed with Faye Pattinson in February.
He was about 12 weeks old when they began caring for Derek. He stayed with them for around 18 months, learning to become well-socialised, unfazed by noise, able to navigate busy shopping centres, sit quietly on public transport or in cafes, and develop toileting routines.
Being our first (Guide Dog pup) we were both a bit emotional when the day came to hand him over for training. But Labradors in particular love being with people, and [the Guide Dog’s] going on to be with someone all the time, and helping that person, and we can then look forward to hearing about their progress and how they’re going with their life.
“There were lots of little quirky moments that you can think back on and of course we’re always taking heaps of photos, so we’ve got a record of our life with Derek, which is lovely.”
They were then delighted to meet Faye and see Derek so happy with her, through an online meeting during the COVID isolation period.
“The thing we picked up on was that her life has just got so much better since she’s been having guide dogs, and how much she enjoys Derek’s personality,” says Maggie.
She and Chris have since helped to raise Harmony, who at the time of writing, was just days away from leaving them to begin her training. But, asked whether she would recommend becoming a puppy raiser despite the necessary goodbyes, Maggie didn’t hesitate.
“Oh yes, I think it’s a really lovely thing to do and very worthwhile, and there is a lot of support and care. A big thank you to Guide Dogs Tasmania, because it’s given us so much as well.