Guide Dogs having busiest Christmas ever - The Rugby Observer

Guide Dogs having busiest Christmas ever

Rugby Editorial 22nd Dec, 2020   0

GUIDE Dogs is having one of its busiest Christmases on record after the pandemic forced a halt to its breeding programme for the first time in 50 years.

The charity paused activity for three months from March when the UK was first hit by the pandemic.

But every hour a person in the UK goes blind – and with two million people living with sight loss, the service is in demand.

Now the National Breeding Centre in Leamington is currently raising more than 100 puppies under seven weeks old, with the dogs all set to help people with sight loss.

It is expected around 30 puppies and their mums will be at the site over Christmas, along with 30 adult dogs. Last year they didn’t have any puppies until December 30.

To support the dogs, a team of around 20 staff will be working around the clock during the festive season.

Among those are Janine Dixon and Erica Cromack, who have more than 50 years’ experience working with guide dogs between them.

During their time, along with the other members of the team, they have helped raise more than 5,000 puppies.

Janine said: “In my 25 years of working at Guide Dogs, there’s no doubt that 2020 has been one of the most challenging.

“Our team of dog care staff at the National Breeding Centre worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to make sure our puppies, along with our guide dog mums and dads, received the highest level of care, despite lockdown restrictions.

“I’d like to say a massive thank you to the team for their amazing dedication and for ensuring our dogs are always at the heart of what we do.”

Alongside the puppies on-site, dedicated volunteers will be caring for dozens more in their homes.

Head of breeding operations Matthew Bottomley said: “Christmas is going to be a really busy time for us and as our dogs need care and attention around the clock, we’ll have staff and volunteers working 24 hours a day to ensure everything runs smoothly.

“Supporting a puppy to become a guide dog is a difficult but hugely rewarding job and we’re excited about getting our latest litters off to the best possible start in life.”

On an average year, Guide Dogs welcomes more than 1,000 puppies into the world.

And at any one time, the charity is responsible for 8,400 puppies and dogs.

It costs more than £55,000 to support a guide dog from birth to retirement – with funding through initiatives like Sponsor a Puppy.

Matthew added: “These are unprecedented times, and here at Guide Dogs we will continue to nurture and develop our puppies to help them go on to train as wonderful assistance dogs which play such a vital role in transforming the lives of people with sight loss in the UK.

“It wouldn’t be possible without the support of members of the public who have sponsored puppies as they go on a journey from a mischievous bundle of fluff to a fully-fledged guide dog.”

Visit to find out more.

Online Editions

Catch up on your local news by reading our e-editions on the Rugby Observer.


Receive a weekly update to your inbox by signing up to our weekly newsletter.

Business Directory

From plumbers, to restaurants, we can provide you with all the info you need.

Buy Photos

Buy photos online from the Rugby Observer newspaper.