Service dogs play a major part in all of our lives in ways that we often fail to consider.
From playing a pivotal role in the police force to working as therapy animals in hospitals, rehabilitation centres and schools, their effect on our physical and metal health is pretty significant and something that we couldn’t do without.
Guide dogs are one of the most widely recognised service animals around, and one woman has spoken about her joy at working alongside the special animals.
Nicole Bottomley from Morton Morrel, Warwickshire, works as part of a specialist team at Guide Dogs UK that welcomes thousands of dogs into the world each year, in what she calls the “best job in the world”.
Mrs. Bottomley, whose husband is head of breeding operations at Guide Dogs UK, has been working with the organisation since the age of 18, devoting her life to the future guide dog puppies.
The dogs are trained to assist the blind and visually impaired by navigating a clear pathway, stopping at kerbs and steps, and helping them to safely cross the road.
Mrs. Bottomley has said that seeing the puppies being born is her favourite part of the work, alongside the knowledge of the good that they’ll grow up to do.
Speaking of her love her job and what inspired her passion for, she said:
“I grew up in the town, so I used to see the dogs out in training in and around the area.
Even when I was at school, I knew I wanted to work with them. There weren’t any vacancies at that point though, so I worked for a short while at a veterinary practice, before progressing to Guide Dogs UK, where I have been ever since.
The dogs are very rewarding and I love supporting our volunteer families. It’s amazing bringing these little puppies into the world. knowing they are, hopefully, going to go on and become life changers.
We are there every step of the way, from the time the bitch is mated. We go after four weeks and conduct an ultrasound scan to confirm that she is pregnant and get an estimate of the size of her litter. An average is seven to eight puppies. After that, we visit weekly.”
The charity relies on volunteer families to care for the 280 bitches that carry litters every year, delivering around 1,400 pups annually. Although Mrs. Bottomley and her team visit on a weekly basis, she has said that attending the birth is her favourite part of the process and makes the job worthwhile.
We’re so grateful for all of the hard work that service dog charities do. Without them – and the animals themselves, of course – a lot of people would have a very different quality of life.
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