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  • ITV This Morning: Janine Dixon, Guide Dogs’ Dog Care and Welfare Manager

ITV This Morning: Janine Dixon, Guide Dogs’ Dog Care and Welfare Manager

Janine Dixon, Guide Dogs’ Dog Care and Welfare ManagerMy name’s Janine and I’m the Dog Care and Welfare Manager at our National Breeding Centre near Leamington Spa in Warwickshire. Along with my fantastic team, it’s my job to make sure that all our guide dog puppies are as healthy and happy as they can be.

We breed all our own dogs, but you might be surprised to learn that most guide dog puppies are born in our volunteers’ own homes. These volunteers look after our guide dog mums and as soon as a litter of pups are born, it’s the volunteer’s job to get them used to the sights, sounds and smells of a typical home. This can be anything from the washing machine and the vacuum cleaner to pushchairs, other pets, small children and the TV – anything they might encounter when they’re living with someone with sight loss as a fully qualified guide dog.

The young pups spend their first few days sleeping and eating – they’ll wake up every time they need to suckle. If you’ve ever had children yourself, you’ll know exactly what this is like. Just be grateful you’ve never had to do what our guide dog mums have to - lick their puppies’ bums to stimulate them to go to the loo! A pups’ eyes and ears open at 10 to 14 days, and they’re running around by the time they’re two or three weeks old. Like human babies, dogs have a set of baby teeth which appear at about three weeks old, which is when we start giving them solid food.

Sometimes, litters have to be born at our breeding centre – perhaps the puppies are due when the volunteer has booked a holiday. Or maybe, we’ll need to keep an eye on a guide dog mum or a litter from a health point of view. The facilities here are state-of-the-art, and we have anywhere between 80 to 200 dogs at any one time!

Once a litter that’s born at a volunteer’s home is six weeks old, they come to the National Breeding Centre for a week. Here, we assess how good a guide dog they might become when they’re older. Then the pups take the next exciting step towards becoming a guide dog: puppy walking.


Jill, 5:42pm Wed 2 Sep 2015:

Im a Guide Dog boarder in Hereford, working at Royal National College for the Blind, and its great to see the progress a puppy makes. Im off to visit a puppy in training on Tuesday, we looked after her for 9 months earlier this year, and we cant wait to see how clever she has become as she was a rather excitable puppy when we had her!!!

Geoffrey, 6:30pm Tue 1 Sep 2015:

What a great idea if having the puppy on the programme and seeing how it changes into an adult helping blind people. I think will be very helpful to those who had no idea what went on behind the scene.

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