This post was most recently updated on May 30th, 2021
[Breaking news… there are new puppies to sponsor… Judy, Niko and Derek!]
There are thousands of people in the United Kingdom today who suffer from partial or total blindness. All of them will require some form of special assistance to get by in highly populated areas. When it comes to leading the blind, dogs still trump most other innovations of technology for the visually challenged. A fine guide dog is the perfect companion for any blind person. The problem, however, is that fewer than a third of the people who need these dogs actually have them, because of the associated costs. Worse still, there’s no government funding for this sort of thing, so those who want guide dogs must rely on their own finances.
Fortunately, the nice people at “Sponsor a Puppy”, run by the GuideDogs charity, have taken it upon themselves to collect donations and fund the training and distribution of guide dogs to the blind. Sponsor a Puppy relies on the kindness of strangers like yourself to fund its efforts. Your assistance can be arranged according to your financial capacity, so you can give on a periodic basis, or you can help out with a single payment.
What Do I Get For Sponsoring A Puppy?
Regular donation has its privileges, in the form of some nice extras that make you feel closer to your canine ward. At the time of starting your sponsorship, you’ll get a few small thank you items such as a photo card of your chosen puppy, a photo album for keeping the pupdate photographs in, a fridge magnet, a certificate with your name on it and a calendar each year.
Furthermore, you’ll receive regular updates of how your chosen guide dog puppy is progressing in the form of “pupdates”. You’ll receive six pupdates for your chosen puppy at four-month intervals, usually in February, June and October. With each pupdate you’ll get a photo to see your pup is growing up and add to your calendar!
I’ve also read rumours that there’s a free cuddly toy for online sponsorships, which is sent a few weeks after joining, but I’m not sure whether that was a temporary offer which expired or not. I’ll try to find out! 🙂
Of course, the primary benefit is the knowledge that you’re contributing to the training of a new guide dog puppy to benefit a person with visual impairment and improve their quality of life.
Trivia: would you like to name a guide dog puppy? If you donate or raise £2,500 or more you can give one of the guide dog puppies a name! How cool!
How Much Does Sponsoring A Puppy Cost?
The minimum sponsorship is £4.33 per month, which is just £1 per week. Of course, if you’re willing to donate more per month, that’d be marvellous and would help the Guide Dogs fund the training of more puppies! Don’t forget, if you’re a taxpayer in the UK, you can Gift Aid your donation so that the Guide Dogs can reclaim paid tax and make your donation do even more good!
Speaking of gifts, you can even give the gift of a puppy sponsorship to someone else if you wish. Just imagine the look of delight on their faces when they see that they’re now sponsoring the training of a new Guide Dog pup!
How Do I Sponsor A Puppy?
Just sign up at the Sponsor a Puppy website and select one of two options, a monthly direct payment or a one-time disbursement. Your donation is funnelled towards one of a number of puppies that will one day grow up to be a boon to a deserving blind individual. Since this is a donation for charitable purposes, the money you pay could be eligible for a tax deduction, if you sign up for this arrangement. You might likewise be interested in turning your benevolence into a commemoration of someone dear to you who has passed away.
You can play a significant role in the improvement of the quality of life of a visually impaired person, through your own noteworthy contribution of puppy sponsorship. We may not have the cure for blindness yet, but sponsoring a guide dog will provide those afflicted with it with a trusty friend who will always be there for them.
Who Are The Current Guide Dog Puppies To Sponsor?
The current Guide Dogs pups available for sponsorship are Judy, Niko and Derek. Here’s video footage of them at just six weeks old at the national Guide Dogs breeding centre located just outside Leamington Spa. Unbelievably, the centre has room to breed up to 1,500 pups per year and has bred over 9,000 puppies since opening in 2011! There are scheduled tours and puppy helper experiences available for those who want to get closer to the puppies than these videos will allow! 🙂
Take a look at the three newest Guide Dog recruits in the video, below…
Judy is a beautiful Golden Retriever pup who likes making new friends. She’s a clever puppy who is currently living at the Guide Dogs’ National Breeding Centre where she’ll undergo tests of her health and temperament.
Niko is a golden retriever / Labrador cross. Niko is a cuddly puppy who adores afternoon naps! Niko’s currently living at the Guide Dogs’ National Breeding Centre where he’ll gain his first experiences of the world around him.
Derek is a golden retriever / Labrador cross. He’s a curious puppy who loves exploring the garden at the Guide Dogs’ National Breeding Centre.
Please consider sponsoring Judy, Niko or Derek to become fully-trained Guide Dogs. 🙂
Trivia: Of all the dog breeds, only a few are used as Guide Dogs. Fifty percent of guide dogs are Golden Retriever crosses with Labradors or German Shepherds, 34% are Labradors, 10% are Golden Retrievers, 4% are German Shepherds and just 2% are “other”, such as poodle or curly coat retriever crosses.
How Long Does My Sponsorship Last?
Your sponsorship will last for 24 months as the puppy develops from their puppy walker’s home through basic training to advanced training. A final pupdate will show your sponsored puppy being introduced to their new owner! After your sponsorship of your puppy ends, you’ll be invited to continue your sponsorship with a new puppy. 🙂
If you choose to donate via direct debit, your payments will be taken monthly and will either cease at the end of two years or continue if you agree to sponsor a new pup. You can cancel a direct debit at any time.
During the 2-years of sponsorship, each puppy goes through multiple different stages of training, from the newborn stage (0-6 weeks) when then new puppy is living with its mum in a Guide Dog volunteer’s home, ending with a trip to the breeding centre for health checks and immunisation, through the next stage (6 weeks to 4 months) spent with the puppy’s new Puppy Walker where the pup learns basic commands and how to walk on a lead, to learning how to negotiate flights of stairs, busy shopping centres and different modes of transport at 4 to 14 months.
After those stages, at 14-17 months, the puppy goes to guide dog training school and a professional guide dog trainer introduces the dog to a training harness and teaches it about kerbs and avoiding obstacles. From 17 to 20 months a guide dog mobility instructor starts putting the individual skills it has learned into everyday situations. The dog also starts the matching process of finding the right human partner with sight loss. After standard dog training, at 20-22 months, the dog and the new human partner start partnership training, and by 22-24 months the new guide dog is busy changing the life of its new human partner and is settled into its new home and is doing the regular routines its training has prepared it for!
How Many Sponsors Does Each Puppy Have?
It depends on how much each sponsor chooses to donate. However, it takes £44,600 to breed and train a guide dog, which covers everything from dog food and vet bills to the cost of training itself. So if each person sponsors £10 per month, that’s £240 over two year, which would require 186 people at £10 per month! In 2016 it cost almost £50 million to run the Guide Dogs service.
What Happens To Failed Guide Dogs?
Great question. We have a website dedicated to people who are interested in adopting or rehoming guide dogs who don’t complete the rigorous training (roughly 25-30%). Also, guide dogs need re-homing after they’ve finished their working lives and retired at between six and eight years old. While most dogs who train to become guide dogs succeed, there are many reasons why a dog may be withdrawn, such as medical issues or not having the right temperament. However, these dogs make great pets.
Regarding sponsorship, if your chosen puppy is one who is withdrawn from training, your payments will be transferred to another puppy at a similar stage in training.