Guide Dog Brood Bitches – a Puppy Walkers Account.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA‘Guide Dog Brood Bitches’ is a phase we Puppy Walkers do not like to hear or use, for such lovely puppies we have to look after for a year. We prefer to hear or use PBS – Possible Breeding Stock.

When we receive our puppies from our PWS (Puppy Walker Supervisor) at six weeks or eight weeks old, we get a health form which will have details of our pup’s parents and should they be a pure breed, then at the top of the health card will have PBS written. Guide Dogs UK (GD) use a lot of abbreviations, now down to the interesting and exciting parts of looking after a Guide Dog pup who has potential of being part of the Breeding Stock at Leamington Spa Breeding Centre in Warwickshire.

Yana 2As a puppy walker it is very rewarding to know after a year of introducing the pups to noise, public places and keeping them quite calm, but responsive ready to go onto their further year of Advance Training that they eventually make you very proud when they qualify as a Guide Dog to assist blind or partially blind people.

However, when you get a pup with PBS written on your form, then you get excited from day one and hope that your little pup will be chosen. But there could be two possible PBS in that litter or even three, depending upon the size of the litter, and boy girl ratio. So when the pup has had her first season and she is about 8 months or so old, the Area Supervisor will come along and examine the pup and see just what kind of temperament she has, and what kind of behaviour she has with commands and play. Of course there are then health checks too. You have to take your pup along to different Veterinary Clinics (recommended by GD’s) to have eye tests. ” How can a dog read all those letters on a card?” I hear you say, no not quite like that! Eye tests are all done very gently and with great care by the vet, in a dark room, looking into the pups eyes. The eyes having been dilated. Then they will have their bones checked and also general health.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Once all the health checks are done and you receive the positive results you don’t know whether to be happy or sad. Happy, because your wonderful little pup is healthy and the right temperament for being a brood bitch, and sad because you know that she will be leaving you so soon. My last pup was successful and I hugged her and cried with joy. She was just 1 year old when she went into Leamington Spa Breeding Centre.

After approximately 10 days of inspection my pup was placed with the family who already had her mother, how lovely was that. The feeling that she would be back with her own mother was full of questions. Would she recognise her mother? Would her mother recognise her? Well as you can see – instinct kicked in.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I now correspond via e mail with the BBH (here we go again……Brood Bitch Holder), Sandra, and she has told me that Yana had only been in the house a few days and took all Evie’s favourite toys. She also chewed a basket which Evie had since herself one year old. Lots of fun. Evie is now 6 years old and Guide Dogs have retired her. She will live retirement with Sandra and her farming family and now it will be little Yana’s turn to produce the pups.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The stage we are all at, is that Yana has had her second season at the Breeding Centre, been monitored and returned home to Sandra. She has passed with flying colours, is at Silver level (whatever that means!!! Don’t ask….I’m only a Puppy Walker) and at her next season, which will most probably be around June 2014 be back at LeamingtonSpa. This time on the ‘look out’ for a beautiful big boy! Wouldn’t we all??!!! More to write around September time, hopefully with Yana’s little puppies.

Hazel Mander – Callaby  Guide Dog Puppy Walker & Mentor.