Our puppies are put into family homes at approximately 8 weeks of age until they are about 12 months or age. During this time the Puppy Raiser will socialise the puppy, do much of the foundation skills and basic training and help to make the puppy a happy, confident and loved dog. We supervise our puppies throughout and along with monthly reports sent in from our Puppy raisers we continually monitor our puppy’s progress. In addition our Puppy Raisers undergo our training programme before they receive one of our puppies.
When a puppy/dog is ready to come into advanced training (around 12 months of age) the dog graduates from the Puppy Raising stage and moves on to one of our Pathfinder Dog Instructors. Towards the end of the dog’s advanced training the instructor will consider which blind person is the best possible match for this dog – the dog will get a chance to meet a potential client to make sure they are compatible and both can work safely together. If the match is successful, the finer points of training will be added before the blind person comes for a 3-4 week residential training course. This is where the client is taught to work safely with their dog and learns to care for the dog, give medications, learns to groom the dog and learns about dog behaviour, as well as starting the bonding process.
This is the big day, the day when all the time, care and training comes to fruition. Once a dog and a client are qualified together, they are considered to be a safe working unit. The client, now a Pathfinder Dog Handler (PDH) will have a well-trained partner to guide them in their daily life and the dog will have someone to love and care for them.
Not something we like to think about, but Pathfinder Dogs get to put their paws up too. After a long working life our dogs get to retire. They can either stay with their Pathfinder Dog Handler, if they are able to keep them, or they will be found loving homes from our list of people waiting for a retired dog to love.
At all stages of a Pathfinder Dogs life we will support and cover costs to ensure our dogs have a good quality of life from cradle to grave.