Our puppies are put into family homes from about 10 weeks of age to about 24 months or age. Whilst here the Puppy Raiser will socialise the puppy, do much of the basic training and help to make the puppy a happy, confident and loved dog. Monthly reports are sent in from our Puppy Raisers and we monitor the puppies throughout. Of course our Puppy Raisers undergo our training programme before they are allowed one of our puppies.
When a puppy/dog is ready to come into advanced training (which could be about 24 months) the dog graduates from the Puppy Raising stage and moves on to our Pathfinder Dog Instructor. Towards the end of the dog’s advanced training the Instructor will consider which blind person to match this dog with – the dog will get a chance to meet a blind person to make sure they both get on and both can work safely together. If the match is successful the finer points of training will be added before the blind person comes for a 3-4 week training course (this will be fully residential once our training village has been built). This is where a blind person is taught to work safely with their dog and learns to look after the dog, give medications, learn to groom the dog and learn about dog behaviour as well as starting the bonding process.
This is the big day, the day when all the training comes to fruition. Once a dog and a blind person are qualified together they are considered to be a safe working unit. The blind person, now a Pathfinder Dog Handler (PDH) will have a well trained partner to guide them in their daily life and the dog will have someone to love them and care for them.
Not something we like to think about but Pathfinder Dogs can put their paws up too. After a long working life our dogs get to retire. They can either stay with their Pathfinder Dog Handler, if they are able to keep them, or they will be found loving homes from our list of people waiting for a retired dog to love.
At all stages of a Pathfinder Dogs life we will support and cover costs where needed to ensure our dogs have a good quality of life from the cradle to the grave.