Being a mum is one of the most important jobs in the world and at Guide Dogs that's never been more true.
We rely on a network of volunteers tolook after guide dog mums in their homes and care for future guide dogs in their first weeks of life, so these volunteers really are super mums!
One such super mum is Susie Barford who lives in Southam, Warwickshire, with her husband, Pete, their two sons, William and Daniel, and their brood bitch, Truffle. Truffle is a three-year-old black Labrador, who is due to have her second litter of puppies later this year.
Susie’s youngest son, 18-year-old Daniel, has autism and William, 19, attends The University of Coventry but still lives at home. This keeps Susie very busy as a full-time housewife but also means that when Truffle has a litter of puppies, Susie can be a full-time midwife!
Susie, 43, said: “Looking after a son with autism is not easy but having Truffle around is of great comfort to Daniel. She is a friend and a confidant for him and he is a brilliant nanny when the puppies come along!
“William loves playing football with Truffle and when she had the first litter of puppies it proved very popular with the ladies, so I don’t think he was complaining!”
Guide Dogs needs more volunteers like Susie who can look after brood bitches and be there when they give birth, which happens roughly once a year. Most guide dog puppies are born in volunteers' homes, which need to be no more than an hour's drive or 50 miles away from our National Breeding Centre in Royal Leamington Spa. Brood bitch holders also need to get pups as used to as many different sounds, smells and textures as possible until they move on to their early guide dog training when they are six weeks old.
When she has a rare moment to spare, Susie also helps Guide Dogs in Leamington by going to puppy socialising classes and enjoys nice long walks with Truffle.
She said: “I love being a brood bitch holder, it is so rewarding to know the puppies could go on to change other people's lives when they have already changed ours.”
For more information or to become a brood bitch holder for Guide Dogs,visit our brood bitch holder pages or call our National Volunteering office on 0845 371 7771.
We provide mobility and freedom to blind and partially sighted people. We also campaign for the rights of people with visual impairment, educate the public about eye care and fund eye disease research.
We will not rest until blind and partially sighted people can enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else.
For more information visit www.guidedogs.org.uk/