A CALL for puppy walkers in the Worcester News has led to a large number of volunteers in the county contacting a leading charity which trains service dogs.

Guide Dogs trains and selects dogs to work with blind and partially sighted service users.

Eleanor Stephens, engagement officer for Guide Dogs, said: “We’ve had around 20 enquiries as a result of the news story, which we are really pleased with.

“Puppy walkers play a vital role in the early socialisation and education of guide dogs.

“At about six weeks of age, puppies start their early training, remaining with puppy walkers until they are round one year old.”

Heather Gelder, volunteer coordinator for puppy walking in the Midlands, said: “We’ve had a fantastic response to our recent appeal for puppy walkers in Worcestershire and the article published by the Worcester News.”

Lesley Robson, 68, who volunteers to train the puppies, said: “It’s absolutely brilliant to take a puppy with no training and then see the difference the puppy makes to the less sighted person.

“I really feel part of a community here. Now that I’ve retired, this has become my main hobby.”

Laura Miles, aged 32, who is one of the trainers, said: “Everything we do is around positive encouragement.” The total running cost for Guide Dogs in 2017 was just under £50million and the charity relies on public support. Each dog takes around two years to train to working level and costs more than £50,000. The charity are still looking for volunteers and if you have the time available to care for a guide dog puppy at home for their first year, contact them direct on 0118 9838253 or emailing heather.gelder@guidedogs.org.uk

READ MORE: Meet Worcestershire's trainee guide dogs and volunteers