Our volunteer fosterers are a vital cog in the Guide Dogs machine, and staff get to know them well. They provide loving homes for our dogs in training and help to turn them into life-changers.
Two popular Cardiff fosterers, Mike Matthews and his wife Margaret, were nicknamed “Team M&M” by the staff, fostering a total of 19 young dogs over the years. They were all set to welcome another dog into their home before Mike died suddenly last November.
The Guide Dogs Cymru team decided it would be a fitting tribute to name a guide dog puppy in Mike’s memory and set a target of £2,500. A bake sale at the training centre was followed by a mass ascent of Pen y Fan, the highest mountain in South Wales, while passing a rugby ball from hand to hand. Staff and volunteers were accompanied on the 2,900ft climb by team dog Bryn, trainee guide dog Mini and pet dog Tadleigh, who sat proudly for a photo at the summit.
Guide Dog Mobility Specialist (GDMS) Amy John, the driving force behind the NAP fund, was delighted when the team raised a total of £2,715 for Guide Dogs, smashing the original target. Amy said: “This is a lovely tribute to a truly lovely man. Mike loved each and every dog he fostered, even the ones full of ‘character’, and he’ll be missed by everyone who knew him.”
Mike’s widow, Margaret, also took part in the climb, adding: “Mike would be so thrilled with the thought of naming a dog in his memory. Mike absolutely loved each trainee dog and was so proud when they qualified.
“Fostering a trainee guide dog is great fun because they are always so well behaved, and you don’t get the teething problems of a puppy. You are free to do as you please during the day while the dog is at school. At weekends we would take the dog on long walks or to visit friends. There are no vet or food bills, and the Guide Dogs staff are so supportive and helpful.”
Could you follow Mike and Margaret’s example and become a volunteer fosterer? The young dog goes to work when you do, and you get to enjoy its company during evenings and weekends, with no worries about bills. The dogs usually train for a period of 16-20 weeks, so your commitment is time-limited, and you're able to take a break when you need one. Read more about the role using this link: Become A Volunteer Guide Dogs Training Dog Fosterer | Guide Dogs