Puppy parent shares rewarding experience of helping to train assistance dog for Canine Partners

A puppy parent with a Midhurst charity which trains assistance dogs has shared her experience of volunteering.

Julie Wilks and her husband Martyn took their first puppy-in-training home from Canine Partners just before the first lockdown last year.

She said: “Being a puppy parent during lockdown was better than we could have hoped for.

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“We had only had Chase for seven weeks at that point, so it meant we could dedicate more time to training her.”

Canine Partners puppy parent Julie Wilks with puppy-in-training Chase

Puppies-in-training live in the volunteer’s home from around eight weeks old until they are ready to start advanced training when they are between 12 and 14 months old.

Trainers from the charity provide support for puppy parents, normally with home visits, one-to-ones, town visits and puppy classes in order to socialise the puppy and get them used to all situations they may need to be in as a fully trained canine partner.

Julie said: “The support from the specialist puppy trainers was fantastic. They have been available for us on the phone or on video chat whenever we have needed them.

“Training lessons continued online throughout the pandemic and had been fun and informative.

Canine Partners puppy parent Julie Wilks with puppy-in-training Chase

“We have nothing but praise for our trainers, and I am so proud of how Chase is developing her skills.

“The most rewarding thing about volunteering and being a puppy parent is knowing that at the end of the process, Chase will go on to enhance someone’s life for the better.

“Having Chase is a pleasure as she is such a joy to have around.”

Julie and Martyn decided to support the charity as its Southern Training Centre in Heyshott is not far from their home in Pulborough.

Canine Partners puppy parent Julie Wilks with puppy-in-training Chase and one of the charity's trainers

Julie said: “After we had decided to apply to be puppy parents, we were at the local hospital and met a partnership.

“We spoke to her and she explained to us how much better her life was since being paired with her canine partner assistance dog.

“It just seemed like fate as we had already decided Canine Partners was the charity we wanted to support.”

Canine Partners trains assistance dogs to transform the lives of people with disabilities, boosting their confidence and independence.

The dogs are taught a range of everyday tasks including picking up and fetching items, opening doors and dressing a person – they can even help to load and unload a washing machine and fetch help in an emergency.

To find out more about Canine Partners and how to become a puppy parent, visit caninepartners.org.uk


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