Walk this way to show support for charity dogs

Lucy Ford, aged 28, of Norton Lees, with eleven month old Labrador Paddy at Support Dogs, Brightside.

Lucy Ford, aged 28, of Norton Lees, with eleven month old Labrador Paddy at Support Dogs, Brightside.

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THEY have an army of lively puppies ready to help change the lives of disabled people...

But the people at Sheffield charity Support Dogs have just one problem – a shortage of volunteers to help train the pups for new roles as disability assistance dogs.

Lack of helpers is threatening the Brightside Lane charity’s ability to train two new puppies it has been offered – and staff are now appealing for people to help walk the dogs and foster them.

“We are pretty desperate,” said Rita Howson, director of operations.

“We have agreed to take the puppies, but we need people to act as puppy walkers for us.

“Without them we might not be able to train these dogs which then go on to change the lives of the people they are partnered with.”

The difference an assistance dog makes to the life of a disabled person is vast.

But there are also health benefits for volunteers – Support Dogs foster carer John Chapman has seen his high blood pressure fall since he began taking care of two-year-old black labrador Crumble.

He said: “I’ve been on medication to reduce my blood pressure for a few years now.

“Then we got Crumble and I started taking her for regular walks morning and night. She always gives a warm, friendly welcome and she is such a pleasure to have around.

“Then I went for a check-up and my blood pressure had gone back to normal for the first time in donkey’s years.

“My doctor actually asked if I’d changed my job, the change was so remarkable.”

William Taylor, clinical director of Springfield Veterinary Hospital in Rotherham, added: “Every day we see how dogs enrich the lives of their owners. There have been more than a dozen studies published over the past 20 years demonstrating a positive effect on blood pressure levels due to interaction with dogs.

“Studies have demonstrated many other benefits in areas such as social interaction, anxiety, mood and cardiovascular benefits.”

* Puppy walkers must introduce dogs to a wide range of social situations.

* Volunteers must attend regular training and not leave puppies for more than three hours a day.

* Ring Support Dogs on 0114 2617800 or email info@supportdogs.org.uk

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