BURGHFIELD-based charity Guide Dogs for the Blind is on the look-out for volunteer puppy walkers to help them with their life-changing work.

Puppies begin their early training at the tender age of six-weeks-old when they are placed with a puppy walker, who teaches them basic commands, how to walk to heel and socialises them with other dogs and people in different environments.

Eleven-month-old yellow Labrador Andrews currently lives with puppy walker Jenny Eaton, who has been volunteering with Guide Dogs for five years.

Jenny said: "We get them used to the sights and sounds of the world, we take them to shops, on public transport, buses, trains all that sort of thing so that when they leave us and go into full-time training they are not distracted by anything.

"It is a really rewarding role, the puppies make you laugh out loud every single day. It's rewarding not just in looking after the pups and see them grow into lovely dogs, but I have made a lot of friends through Guide Dogs. In terms of giving the puppies back at the end, it does break your heart but only for a few days usually, and the way I look at it is for me to be upset for a few days is absolutely worth it because the dogs make such a different to the lives of the owners they are with eventually."

Simon Werner, Volunteering Consultant for Guide Dogs said: “Guide dogs give people with sight loss the confidence to leave their homes and of course they are great companions. Puppy Walkers are a key part in the journey of our puppies growing up to become amazing guide dogs. We are very keen to hear from anyone who is interested in the vital role of Puppy Walker.

“This is a full time volunteering role so commitment is key and the puppy becomes part of your household for the first year of their life."

Being a volunteer puppy walker is a full-time role as the puppy will live with the volunteer. Full training is provided, along with regular support and puppy classes and meet-ups with other volunteers. You do not need to have previous experience, but a love for dogs is vital and enough free time to take them for regular walks and training sessions. Veterinary bills are covered by the charity.

To find out more about becoming a Puppy Walker, visit www.guidedogs.org.uk.