A national charity is urgently looking for volunteers in Harrogate who can look after a new puppy for just over a year, before it trains to become a hearing dog for deaf people.
Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, is a national charity that trains dogs to alert deaf people to important and even life-saving sounds.
The charity has seen an influx of hearing dog puppies born during the summer that need to be placed in homes for 14-16 months from this autumn, so that they can be socialised and experience all the sights and sounds they will regularly come across as working hearing dogs.
There is currently a shortage of volunteers in Harrogate, which means that the charity is not able to train as many life-changing dogs as it could do until homes for the puppies have been found.
There are currently five working hearing dogs already changing the lives of deaf people in Harrogate and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People is dedicated to increasing this number but needs help.
The role of a puppy socialiser volunteer is to ensure that the puppy they are matched with gets a good level of training and experience before it enters the next stage of its life.
They take the puppy into as many different environments as possible, such as shops, on public transport, cafés and in and around busy towns.
This gives the young dogs the confidence to accompany a deaf person everywhere they go when they become a hearing dog.
Puppy socialisers also provide the puppies with housetraining and obedience skills and take them to weekly puppy classes along with other cute hearing dog puppies and their volunteers.
The whole process is funded and supported by Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and each puppy socialiser is assigned a local instructor, who will provide full support along the way.
Victoria Leedham, Volunteering Manager at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, said: “It’s definitely been a summer of love at Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and as a result we have experienced a summer puppy boom.
"This means we now have lots of cute little life-changers that are looking for homes in Harrogate from the age of eight weeks, so we’re urging anyone who might have the time and commitment needed to give a pup a home for anywhere between fourteen and sixteen months to get in touch to find out more.”
Local resident, Celia Moran, who currently volunteers as a puppy socialiser for the charity, said: “Volunteering to socialise a puppy is an incredibly rewarding experience – it’s like a dream come true for most people as they get to spend lots of time with an adorable puppy and know that at the end of their time together the little fur ball will be changing the life of a deaf person by acting as their ears.
“It is a commitment – I liken it to having a full-time job – but it is incredibly fun and worthwhile and the support you get along the way is fantastic.”
Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, which received no government funding, relies on its extensive network of more than 2,500 volunteers across the country in order to continue its life-changing work in training dogs that will change the lives of deaf people.
The role would suit anyone who is able to drive or has access to a car driven by someone else, has a secure private garden, enough time to train a puppy daily, and who is not away from home for more than two to three hours at a time.
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