THEY are fun, friendly, and destined to walk a noble path, but lovable Labradors like Ferris need a little help from some friends first.
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has just launched its popular puppy raising program in Newcastle and the Hunter, with the organisation looking to place up to 30 future guide dogs in warm, loving homes by the end of the year.
It is the first time the organisation has had a dedicated "puppy development adviser" and program based out of its Newcastle office.
"We are always looking for carers," Guide Dogs NSW/ACT puppy development manager, Karen Hayter, said. "We breed 200 puppies a year to keep up with the demand for Guide Dogs.
"So we need people, families, and individuals to look after our puppies, socialise them, house-train them, teach them not to jump up on counters and steal food - which Labradors are good at doing, and not be distracted when they meet other dogs or other people.
"Our volunteer puppy raisers make a wonderful contribution in helping to transform a playful puppy into a responsible Guide Dog that will one day change the life of someone who is blind, or has sight loss."
As well as providing lots of love and cuddles, carers introduce the pups to the sights, sounds and smells they are likely to encounter as a Guide Dog.
They can apply to care for a puppy until it is 14 months old via guidedogs.com.au.
Ms Hayter said puppy raisers needed to have a fully-fenced yard, be away from home no more than four hours at a time, and be able to attend training days in their local area.
"We supply everything - food, veterinary costs, and flea and tick prevention, as well as a lot of support."
Belinda Carroll, of the Newcastle Guide Dogs office, said they had provided a "whole range" of services to local people with impaired vision for almost 30 years.
"Obviously, Guide Dogs are an important part of that," she said. "This is the first time we've been able to have involvement at that initial puppy-raising level.
"Newcastle and the Hunter have always been a wonderful support to us, this is another way people can help. If they are keen to be involved, we would love to hear from them."
HAVE YOU signed up to The Senior's e-newsletters? Register below to make sure you keep up to date with everything that's happening for seniors around the country.