A DEDICATED animal lover said goodbye to her latest litter of adorable puppies when they headed off to new lives to help blind and partially sighted people.
Jules Evans, of Moorsom Way, Aston Fields, is a breeding stock holder for The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and over the past 16 years has looked after 160 dogs. Her latest litter was eight, black and liver flatcoat retrievers which were born to Bonnie, who has given birth to 42 pups over the past five years.
They stay with Jules at her home for just six weeks and then go off to Leamington where they are assessed and then live with puppy walkers until they are 14-months-old.
After this they learn harness training before they are put to work with their new owners.
Jules said: "I have a great passion for this work. It is so rewarding and Guide Dogs for the Blind is such a worthwhile organisation.
"It is really tough when they go off to be trained at six weeks, but I make sure they are well handled and are able to cope with everything that is thrown at them. They are then ready for their training and to be puppy walked."
Socialise Jules added: "My job is to look after the pups, feed them and socialise them with as many people as possible.
"It is a lot of hard work, but they are career dogs with such an important job to do."
Jules started work with Guide Dogs for the Blind about 16 years ago as a puppy walker, but then decided to become a breeding stock holder.
Her current dog Bonnie, a black flatcoat retriever, has had a litter of pups each year for the past five years. Her current litter was her last and she will now stay with Jules for the rest of her life as a family pet.
One of Jules' former dogs also features on the cover of the summer edition of guide dogs' Forward magazine. Vogue was born to Bonnie and now works with a blind boat builder in Cardiff and spends all day aboard the boats that he builds.
The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association was set up in 1931 to give blind and partially-sighted people greater independence and is the world's largest breeder and trainer of working dogs.
The working life of a guide dog is about seven years and many guide dog owners have several dogs during their lifetime. While there are around 5,000 working guide dogs in the UK today, Guide Dogs cares for around 8,000 dogs, including breeding stock, puppies, dogs in training and retired dogs.
The lifetime cost of each dog is around £35,000, which includes all breeding and training costs, vet and feeding bills.
The Redditch and Bromsgrove funding committee for Guide Dogs for the Blind needs more supporters to help raise cash through helping with events such as fundraising stalls and collecting cash in the street.
It is also organising a summer ball at the Gainsborough Hotel, Kidderminster, on Friday, June 20, 2008. Tickets, which include a four-course meal and raffle ticket with top prizes, are £30. For details on how to help or to get tickets contact Allison Nutall on 01527 404991 or email firstname.lastname@example.org