WORTHING mayoress Norah Fisher is appealing for people to come forward as puppy parents for the charity that she says turned her life around.
Canine Partners matched Norah, 66, who has rheumatoid arthritis, to assistance dog Herbie, a Labradoodle, in 2009.
Like all other Canine Partners dogs, Herbie spent his early life with puppy partners who trained him until he was ready for advanced training.
Now the charity is looking for volunteers who can take a puppy into their home from the age of eight weeks until they are 12-14 months old.
They will need to be available to attend regular training classes at the training centre near Midhurst, and to teach basic obedience and core tasks.
Puppy parents will have the full support of Canine Partners’ puppy trainer Elaine Potter, and expenses relating to the pup’s training will be met by the charity.
Ms Potter said: “Our puppies begin their training as soon as they are placed with their puppy parent.
“They need a welcoming and understanding home to live in while they learn the skills they need to become an assistance dog.
“The emphasis at puppy class is on having fun as you teach your puppy basic obedience and puppy parents will be guided on how to socialise a puppy.”
Norah, who lives in Tarring, said: “Without puppy parents Canine Partners cannot even start to train the assistance dogs that can changes lives.
“They are so important in giving each pup the fantastic start that gets them on the road to being an assistance dog.
“Without the generosity of Herbie’s puppy parents I would not have been able to do as much as I have.
“Having him has opened up a new lease of life for me, and I certainly wouldn’t, or couldn’t, be without him now.”
Canine Partners is a national charity that trains assistance dogs for people with physical disabilities including members of the Armed Forces.
The dogs are trained to help with everyday tasks such as opening and closing doors, unloading the washing machine, pressing buttons and switches and getting help in an emergency.
Norah said: “Before our first Christmas together, Herbie could see that I was struggling to open my Christmas cards. One day he sat by my side when I was wrestling with yet another tightly-fitting card, and without a single word of command he pulled the envelope until the card came out. I was reduced to tears, and couldn’t believe what he’d done.
“Without a caring puppy parent Herbie may never have started his journey which ended in caring for me and changing my life.”
For information, call Elaine on 01730 716017.