Vision Australia’s Seeing Eye Dogs Australia division (SEDA), is the only national provider of Seeing Eye Dogs for people that are blind or vision impaired. For the right person, getting a Seeing Eye Dog can have a profound impact on the quality of their life. It takes a lot of time, love, patience and money to raise these special working dogs that will one day provide the gift of independence.
What happens during training?
For the first year of a Seeing Eye Dog’s life, they live in the home of a Volunteer Puppy Carer, who teaches the puppy basic obedience skills, and helps them develop their socialisation. This includes visiting different places and getting the puppies accustomed to and familiar with various environments and situations.
When a Seeing Eye Dog Puppy is with their Volunteer Puppy Carer, they are not able to be left alone for more than three hours at a time and must wear their blue Seeing Eye Dog Puppy coat when out in public.
After turning one year old the dogs are available to be considered for their formal training but before this can happen they need to pass a few tests. Their eyes need to be examined by a specialist and their hips and elbows are x-rayed to ensure they are skeletally sound enough to withstand the rigours they may experience as a working dog – their work may mean they do more than a regular pet dog, but SEDA is very careful in dog selection to ensure each dog is perfectly suited to the job. Dogs must be fit and healthy to become a Seeing Eye Dog.
When a Seeing Eye Dog graduates from its formal training, it is then matched with a person who is blind known as ‘the owner’ and helps to safely navigate them while out in public, their community and catch all forms of public transport, and provide them with increased independence and confidence.
Seeing Eye Dogs come at no cost to their clients, and SEDA work tirelessly to ensure that each client is matched with a suitable dog, which is generally based on personality.
What are the costs involved?
Each Seeing Eye Dog costs $50,000 to breed and train, and this is funded through very limited government funding, but mostly donations and sponsorship. All costs throughout the puppy caring program are covered by SEDA, and Puppy Carers receive unlimited support from SEDA trainers, with a trainer making regular home visits and being available whenever a puppy carer requires them.
I want to be a Volunteer Puppy Carer
Becoming a Puppy Carer can be an incredibly rewarding experience. If you’d like to train a SED, you will receive individual tuition from one of our expert instructors. Training normally takes between three and four weeks.
Training is at the national training facility in Melbourne or at special state-based locations around Australia. In special circumstances we do offer the option of conducting training in your own home. Go to www.seda.org.au to complete puppy carer registration form.
What happens after my training?
SEDA will continue to support you after you take your dog home with you. An instructor will regularly contact you to ensure your new partnership is successful. They will also visit your home soon afterwards to make certain that you and your dog are a successful team and are settling in well together.
How long is a Seeing Eye Dog’s working life?
A typical Seeing Eye Dog works for about nine to ten years before they get older and need to retire. However, this can vary from dog to dog.
Petbarn proudly supports the Seeing Eye Dog appeal and with the help of pet lovers around Australia, we aim to raise much-needed funds for Seeing Eye Dogs Australia to help train Seeing Eye Dogs. Head to Petbarn to learn more or donate!