AN "EXCITING" opportunity to take in a guide dog puppy for the first year of its life has arisen in the Borders.

Charity Guide Dogs needs around 20 new volunteers in the TD postcode area in order to create more working guide dogs for people with sight loss.

Jackie Cummings and her husband Harry, from Earlston, are currently looking after their first guide dog puppy, seven-month-old Keaton.

Jackie said: “We’ve had him since he was eight weeks old and this beautiful little bundle. Keaton is a wonderful dog and we are thoroughly enjoying volunteering with Guide Dogs.

“We’ve been retired for a number of years and thought it would be nice to do something useful. We’ll definitely do it all over again when it’s time for Keaton to go to training school in May.

“We’re always out and about with him, chatting to people. He loves sitting at the square in Earlston and watching the world go by, or meeting other dogs at the park.

“There are certain things Guide Dogs will ask you to do with the pup to socialise them and help prepare them for life as a guide dog. Next on our list is taking Keaton on a train.

“Puppy raising really is so rewarding and the team at Guide Dogs are very supportive.

“For a while, I couldn’t even think about saying goodbye to Keaton, but now I feel prepared. I’ll definitely shed a few tears but I know that being a guide dog is what he’s meant to do.”

Puppy raiser volunteers are vital to the early development of guide dogs, teaching basic commands and helping them get used to different environments. 

The volunteer role involves supporting puppies for the first 12-16 months of their lives before they begin their specialised guide dog training. 

The cost of all the food, veterinary care and equipment required is covered by the charity. 

Gillian Salmon, puppy development advisor for the area, said: “This is an exciting and rewarding opportunity to raise a guide dog puppy and prepare them for their future role supporting someone with sight loss.  

“It is a long-term volunteering role, as each puppy will live with you for at least a year.  

“We’ll provide all the support and training you need, so you feel well equipped to care for your puppy when they arrive with you. 

“If you’d like to find out more about becoming a puppy raiser, please do get in touch.  

“With your support, we can help train more life-changing guide dogs for people in the UK living with sight loss.” 

Guide Dogs is interested in hearing from people across the Borders.

Volunteers must be aged over 18 and have suitable housing, and the ability to access online content and materials. Caring for a puppy is a full-time commitment and you must be able to give a guide dog pup the love and attention they deserve.  

To find out more, or to apply, visit