Myriam's story

Myriam’s life changed 23 years ago when she watched a film about an assistance dog. She was inspired to find out more about puppy raising and 31 dogs later, she’s still bringing up pups for Guide Dogs. Myriam loves being a part of each dog’s journey, and she has a picture wall in her house, proudly dedicated to all the life changers she has helped raise.

I love them to bits while they're with me. And knowing that they will embark on a journey to help someone with sight loss is just amazing.

66-year-old Myriam had dogs growing up and throughout her life, but always found the final goodbye incredibly difficult. Which is why when she saw a documentary about assistance dogs, and the volunteers who help socialise them, she was inspired to do the same. “I did a search online and Guide Dogs was the first charity which came up. I filled out the form and then after a visit from a supervisor, six weeks later I met my first pup, Ed”. That was in 2000, and now 23 years later she has helped socialise 31 dogs.

Puppies are placed with volunteers from around eight weeks old and will stay until they are at least one year. Myriam says her pups go wherever she goes, gradually building them up and introducing them to new social situations like shops and cafes. But you are never alone either. “There's always someone from Guide Dogs at the end of the phone to give you a bit of advice and there’s a network of other Puppy Raisers you can meet up with for coffee so it’s very social.”

When they are with me, they're my family and the puppies all have completely different characters. But most of the time with a pocket full of treats you can get the dog to do anything.

Filming for Channel 5 Puppy School for Guide Dogs

In the 'Puppy School for Guide Dogs' series we get to see the moment Myriam meets 8-week-old golden retriever Frankie for the first time. “I spend at lot of time at first making sure the pups feel comfortable and secure. I also give them a little talk saying we’ll have a good time because for them it’s daunting being somewhere without their brothers and sisters”. Frankie has now been with Myriam for four weeks and after his second jabs, he’ll be ready to hit the streets and his socialising can really begin.

What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a Puppy Raiser?

“It is amazing, but it can also be full on. The pups grow from 6 kilos to 35 kilos quickly and you must think about whether you have the space in your house and heart for a young dog. I would say maybe try fostering a guide dog first to get an idea of what having a dog would be like. And if you enjoy it then go for it!”

It’s an amazing journey. Once you get that graduation picture you forget about the remote control being chewed or the odd tiddle here and there. It’s the sense of pride knowing that’s your little life changer up there.