Guide Dogs Western Australia has welcomed its first litter of puppies following the State Government’s commitment a $5m contribution to facilitate the organization’s breeding program.
The now six-week-old puppies will shortly move in with volunteer Puppy Raisers who will raise, care and socialize them for about one year before the puppies enter their formal training.
The puppies’ career paths may be as a guide dog, autism assistance dog, therapy dog, companion dog, or facility dog.
The McGowan Government’s $5 million investment, matched by Guide Dogs WA, has helped the organization to establish breeding locations across the State and supported specialized staffing costs, a fleet of fit-for-purpose vehicles, and whelping and puppy equipment.
The funding will also allow Guide Dogs WA to re-establish its cadet training program, to increase the number of local, highly qualified dog trainers in the State.
Premier Mark McGowan said the $5m investment will facilitate the establishment of a world-class breeding program.
“Our investment will help to change the lives of many Western Australians, with the demand for Guide and Assistance Dogs growing, while also backing local jobs.”
Anna Presser, Chief Executive Officer of Guide Dogs WA says it’s an exciting time for the organization, which began training the first Guide Dogs in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere back in 1951.
“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 a growing need for Guide and Assistance Dogs and the Breeding Program will ensure we can continue to meet the community needs for many more years to come,” she 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 honor of his legacy 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 well-being, safety, and health of dogs. The Program Manager of Breeding for Guide Dogs WA is a registered veterinarian who has more than 20 years of 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.
“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,” Presser 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 organization that breeds, raises, and trains Guide and Assistance Dogs in Western Australia, for Western Australians.