Guide Dogs WA has welcomed its inaugural litter of puppies – with mother and puppies in good health. The five puppies born to first-time brood Janet have officially launched the Western Australian based organisation’s new Breeding Program.
In October last year, the Western Australian State Government announced funding support to Guide Dogs WA for the establishment of world-class Breeding and Cadet Training Programs.
The Breeding Program will assist Guide Dogs WA to meet the growing demand for Guide and Assistance Dogs in Western Australia, as well as provide an opportunity for new service offerings to become available for people living with low vision, disability or illness.
Anna Presser, Chief Executive Officer of Guide Dogs WA says it’s an exciting time for the organisation, which back in 1951, began training the first Guide Dogs in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere.
“Guide Dogs WA has been changing the lives of Western Australians for more than 70 years and we are delighted to be in a position to commence our own Breeding Program. There is growing need for Guide and Assistance Dogs and the Breeding Program will ensure we can continue to meet community need for many more years to come,” Anna said.
Guide Dogs WA was established by Dr Arnold Cook who was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa and by the age of 18, was legally blind. Dr Cook was raised in Western Australia before furthering his studies in London where he was matched with a Guide Dog named Dreena.
When Dr Cook and Dreena returned to home in 1950, Dreena’s presence in Perth created enormous interest. Dr Cook was determined to establish a Guide Dog school in Western Australia so that others could enjoy the benefits of a Guide Dog.
In honour of his legacy that continues today and the life-changing difference of his Guide Dog Dreena, Guide Dogs WA has named one of the puppies Arnold. The other puppies have been named Ellen, Rico, Perron and Anna.
Female dogs (broods) are selected for the Breeding Program based on temperament and health assessments. Janet entered the Guide Dogs WA training program as a puppy and immediately excelled throughout her time in the training program displaying the skills, characteristics and abilities required of a working Guide or Assistance Dog. These exceptional skills are vital in the next generation of working dogs.
Guide Dogs WA broods and litters have access to the best possible veterinary care throughout their life in the Breeding and Training programs. That care focuses on the wellbeing, safety and health of dogs at all times. The Program Manager of Breeding for Guide Dogs WA is a registered veterinarian who has more than 20 years professional experience including the specialist breeding of Guide and Assistance Dogs.
At eight weeks of age, the new recruits will move in with volunteer Puppy Raisers. Each Puppy Raiser will raise and socialise one of the puppies for approximately a year before they enter formal training for their chosen career path. This may be as a Guide, Autism Assistance, Therapy, Companion or Facility Dog.
With the arrival of the first litter, Guide Dogs WA is calling on more volunteers to sign up as a Puppy Raiser. Further information is available here.
“Guide Dogs WA acknowledges the Western Australian Government for a significant financial contribution towards establishing the Breeding Program. We also thank the Western Australian community who believe in the vital work of Guide Dogs WA and through their ongoing generosity will enable the Guide and Assistance Training Program to continue and ensure the sustainability of the Breeding Program,” Anna says.
Currently Guide Dogs WA has more than 50 puppies and dogs in the training program and more than 80 working Guide, Autism Assistance and Facility Dogs in the Western Australian community.
Guide Dogs WA, is the only Guide Dog organisation who breeds, raises and trains Guide and Assistance Dogs right here in Western Australia, for Western Australians.