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Animals 2015, 5(1), 1-12; doi:10.3390/ani5010001

The Experience of Being a Guide Dog Puppy Raiser Volunteer: A Longitudinal Qualitative Collective Case Study

1
School of Psychology, University of Adelaide, South Australia, 5005, Australia
2
School of Animal Science, University of Adelaide, South Australia, 5005, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Clive J. C. Phillips
Received: 18 November 2014 / Accepted: 18 December 2014 / Published: 23 December 2014
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Simple Summary

Guide dogs are important service animals. They cannot be trained without the input of volunteer puppy raisers, who serve as custodians for the animals for around 12 months. To date very little research has considered the experience of being a guide dog puppy raiser, including the costs and benefits to psychological, physical and social health. In this study one litter of puppies and their raisers were followed from before the animal arrived until one year had passed. Overall, less positive experiences were reported than more negative ones. This has implications for the organisations that seek volunteers to raise service animals.

Abstract

There are no published studies that consider the experiences of guide dog puppy raisers. As these people are volunteers, their continued willingness to participate in the training of dogs for assisting the vision impaired and blind is essential for the viability of guide dog schools around the world. Using a qualitative, longitudinal methodology, data were collected from nine guide dog puppy raisers at four time points: before receiving the puppy, one week, then three months after the puppy arrived, and 13 months after the puppy arrived (at which time all puppies had left the raisers). Participants reported more challenges than benefits in raising the puppies. Volunteering to be a guide dog puppy raiser may not be the pleasant experience that is anticipated when community members first offer their services. Understanding what it is like to be a puppy raiser and working towards ways in which to address problems is essential, given that, without volunteers to train and care for puppies, vision impaired and blind people would not have access to guide dogs. View Full-Text
Keywords: guide dogs; health psychology; volunteering; human-animal studies; qualitative methods guide dogs; health psychology; volunteering; human-animal studies; qualitative methods
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Chur-Hansen, A.; Werner, L.-K.; McGuiness, C.E.; Hazel, S. The Experience of Being a Guide Dog Puppy Raiser Volunteer: A Longitudinal Qualitative Collective Case Study. Animals 2015, 5, 1-12.

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