Guide Dogs unveil first puppy litter of 2023 — and the pictures are adorable
The first Guide Dogs litter of 2023 has been born, with guide dog Sylvia giving birth to eight healthy yellow Labrador puppies – five boys and three girls.
Born on the 5th of January 2023 in Leamington Spa, the adorable puppies weighed just 400 grams each. Now three weeks old, they are beginning to explore their surroundings and open their eyes for the very first time.
This is Sylvia's first guide dog litter, with her owner Gillian Parsons taking part in the Breeding Dog Holder scheme to raise the next generation of guide dogs. Gillian and her family first became involved with Guide Dogs back in 2005 when her then three young children were desperate to get a dog.
"Living in Warwick at the time, we were very aware of Guide Dogs’ work as we frequently saw dogs in training in the area. A friend told me about the Breeding Dog Holder volunteering scheme and, as dog novices, we thought that it would be a lovely way to support the charity, as well as introduce a new family member into the fold," Gillian says.
The Breeding Dog Holder scheme sees volunteers look after one of the sight loss charity's breeding mothers. Guide Dogs then takes care of all feeding and veterinary expenses while the volunteer provides their time, love and care to the dog. This care continues until the breeding mother retires, which is usually at around six-years-old. After this, the Breeding Dog Holder is given the option to keep the mum that they have cared for during this time.
"It is a privilege to have the opportunity to play a role to support those with sight loss so desperate for an assistance dog," Gillian explains.
However, following the pandemic there is currently a national shortage of canine helpers for the visually impaired, which is why the charity is issuing an appeal for people in the UK who are willing to look after guide dog mums, whose puppies will then be trained as guide dogs.
Su Price, Breeding Dog Advisor for Guide Dogs, says: "By giving a home to a guide dog mum, you can help us to provide more life-changing guide dogs in the future. We meticulously health test all our breeding dogs and they live year-round with volunteers, to give the puppies the best start in a loving family environment."
"Sylvia is the perfect mum and has taken to her new litter beautifully. Hopefully her lovely calm and caring temperament will be passed on to these puppies and one day they'll be the perfect guide dogs and companions for people with sight loss all around the UK."
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