Helping is the best part
Ten-year-old Maddison Randal knows she's making a difference in someone's life when she plays with her foster puppy Shadow.
Maddison and mum Paula are caring for the black labrador for the next year as puppy walkers for the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind.
And although she will be sad to say goodbye to Shadow when he enters formal guide dog training, Maddison knows it will all be worth it.
"When he grows up to be a guide dog, you're actually helping someone and I think that's the best part," she says.
Shadow is the second puppy the pair has "walked" for the foundation.
Ms Randall says having an aunt who is blind showed her how important guide dogs are.
"I know what having a guide dog is going to do for somebody - it's a sense of freedom they're going to get from having someone to help them."
The foundation is searching for more volunteer puppy walkers to look after future guide dogs for the first 12 to 18 months of their lives, give them basic training and introduce them to social situations.
"These situations include using public transport, going to the movies, restaurants or the supermarket - normal everyday activities," puppy development co-ordinator Paula Gemmell says.
"The more places a puppy goes, the better because it gets used to different smells, noises and situations."
The pups go to live with puppy walkers from around eight weeks of age.
Guide Dog Services provides regular training sessions for the puppy walkers, as well as food, equipment and veterinary care.
For more information, call Guide Dog Services on 269 0400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to rnzfb.org.nz/puppy-walking for an online application form.
Volunteer puppy walkers must:
● Have no more than one pre-schooler
● Have no more than one other dog in the house
● Have a fully-fenced and dog secure section
● Be able to walk the puppy about 5km per day
● Be able to drive and have a car that the puppy can travel in
● Not work full-time and have enough spare time to socialise the puppy