Assistance Dogs Australia has just welcomed a litter of eight new puppies into their training program, so they’re looking for volunteer puppy educators to give them a home for ten months.

Assistance Dogs is a National charity that trains Labradors and Golden Retrievers to help people with disabilities increase their independence and overcome social isolation. Once trained, the dogs are placed free of charge to a wide range of clients, including families with autism, post traumatic stress sufferers and wheelchair users.

It’s a puppy educator’s role to train, socialise, develop and love the new puppies for the first year of their lives, to help prepare them for their future role as an Assistance Dog.

Mel Bromley, a nurse from Elanora, became a volunteer puppy educator after seeing an Assistance Dog change the life of someone with a disability.

“Assistance dogs can make an enormous contribution to their quality of life, enhancing safety and independence, reducing the need for a carer, and providing companionship,” she said.

Ms Bromley plays the crucial role in being ‘mother’ to an adorable Labrador named Lucky.

“I enjoy the comedy of raising a puppy – they are always doing something to make you laugh. And, kids love the fact that Assistance Dogs are allowed to visit places usually forbidden to dogs,” she said.

Ms Bromley said that Assistance Dogs Australia provide all volunteers with a puppy training manual, support from a local trainer as well as pay for food and veterinary expenses.

“It is so rewarding to guide a puppy along their journey to becoming an Assistance Dog and you feel a great sense of accomplishment each time your puppy learns a new skill,” she said.

Don’t worry, if you can’t commit to looking after a puppy for a full year, Assistance Dogs Australia are also looking for volunteers to train and care for puppies on weekends and for short periods of time.

It costs in excess of $27,000 to train and place a dog, and Assistance Dogs Australia receive no government funding.

If you would like to become a volunteer puppy educator or to find out more about Assistance Dogs Australia call 1800 688 364 or visit www.assistancedogs.org.au