A MUM-OF-TWO who took two guide dog mums under her wing is urging others to do the same – saying it has been life-changing for her family.
This comes after charity Guide Dogs says it is facing its worst ever shortage of volunteers to look after guide dog mums.
The Solihull resident said: “During the Covid pandemic, my role became home-based and this continued after lockdown restrictions had ended.
“I also had empty nest syndrome, as my youngest, now five had started school.”
So she decided to fill in an application to become a volunteer Breeding Dog Holder and guide dog mum.
Under the programme volunteers are paired with a guide dog mum-to-be living with them full-time – just like any other pet – with all costs covered by the charity.
They also need to be on hand to help the dog mums give birth.
Guide Dogs paired Sarah and her children- aged eight and five – with Pebble, a Golden Retriever cross Labrador, who moved in with her and her family in December.
And around 10 months later Pebbles had her first litter who will leave Sarah in November, to be placed with volunteer puppy raisers across the country.
Sarah enjoyed looking after Pebbles so much, that she also offered her support as a volunteer fosterer, for any other guide dog mums.
In February they welcomed guide dog mum Echo, a Golden Retriever, to the family on a temporary basis.
But Sarah said after a week, Echo had made herself so at home they decided to keep her.
Sarah said: “The school runs are much harder as they don’t want to leave the dogs at home.
“Having Pebbles and Echo has brought us together as a family.
“On the weekend, we go out walking together and our life has changed for the better. There’s no iPads anymore – we’re out exploring.
“They have just really enriched our lives in every way and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done – I just love everything about it.”
Kelly Newton, operations manager at Guide Dogs, said: “Giving a home to one of our mums is a great way to have a dog living with you, without the usual costs involved.
“You don’t need to have any previous experience of caring for dogs or puppies, as we have expert staff who will support you and your dog whilst they are part of our breeding programme.”
Volunteers need to live within an hour’s drive of the charity’s base just outside Leamington to do the role.
For more, contact volunteering coordinator Verity O’Donnell on [email protected] or call 0800 781 1444.