The eyes have it for friends of the blind

06 May 2013

"I always say you send them off with a little piece of your heart, then you get another one."

That's how long-time puppy carer Sue Battye describes what it's like each time she says goodbye to a seeing eye puppy.

Sue and her husband Peter were honoured at Seeing Eye Dogs Australia headquarters in Kensington last week for their outstanding commitment to the vision-impaired community.

For 10 years the couple have cared for and raised nine seeing eye dog puppies that have gone on to be seeing eye dogs for someone blind or vision-impaired.

Seeing Eye Dogs Australia is always on the lookout for volunteers to provide the initial care and training of labradors and golden retrievers before their specialised training begins.

Vision Australia clients who have been recipients of the dogs that Sue and Peter raised over the years flew to Melbourne from across Australia to thank the couple for their puppy nurturing at a surprise morning tea last week.

The Battyes are currently raising their 12th seeing eye puppy, Nikita, and Sue says they have no plans to give up.

"We love dogs and always donated to Seeing Eye Dogs so when we saw an add for puppy carers we thought we should give it a go."

Although Sue said it hurts to say goodbye after raising a pup for 12 months, it was for a greater good.

"To see what they do for someone as a working dog, for someone who really needs them, that really is what it's all about — not us."

It takes Seeing Eye Dogs Australia two years and about $30,000 to train a guide dog.

The organisation matches about 60 guide dogs and blind or vision-impaired Australians every year.

Seeing Eye Dogs Australia is struggling to find enough supporters willing to look after the puppies in the first year of their lives and wants Moonee Valley residents to get involved.

To become a puppy carer or learn more, call SEDA on 1800 037 773.