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Volunteers help to foster a new generation of guide dogs

By Cheng Si | China Daily | Updated: 2018-07-06 09:31
Volunteers prepare to clean kennels at the China Guide Dog Training Center, the nation's first nonprofit institute of its kind, in Dalian, Liaoning province. [Wang Jing/China Daily]

Despite efforts to train more puppies, the nation faces an acute shortage of canine 'Seeing Eye angels'. Cheng Si reports from Dalian, Liaoning province.

Bubble, a yellow Labrador, is spending the first year of her life with a foster family in Dalian, Liaoning province, as preparation for guide dog training.

"She used to be a naughty girl. She often broke flowerpots and stained her fur with soil. Ripping up slippers with her teeth was also a favorite activity," said Zhao Qiyi, a volunteer puppy raiser who is caring for the 9-month-old bitch.

"Who would have thought that this 'troublemaker' would grow into an intelligent little puppy and will possibly become a guide dog," the 38-year-old said.

"She learned the toilet routine by the time she was just 4 months old, and can now follow simple commands, such as 'Sit' and 'Wait'."

Zhao said Bubble, who was born at the China Guide Dog Training Center in Dalian, has become the family's alarm clock, waking her and her husband at 4 am every day to follow the toilet routine they have taught her.

"We can't sleep late, even at weekends, because of the whimpering sounds Bubble makes at the side of the bed every morning. When we open our eyes, we see her pleading to be taken outside. It's adorable and funny," she said, with a laugh.

This year, more than 30 families in Dalian are caring for prospective guide dogs under the supervision of coordinators from the training center. The puppies spend 12 months with the families being prepared for the official training program.

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