A WOMAN has achieved a childhood ambition by becoming a volunteer puppy raiser for Guide Dogs.

Janet Keggie, a retired nurse from Penarth, first heard about the role when she saw it featured on BBC’s Blue Peter back in the 1960s.

Five decades later, she and her husband Alan, a retired university technician, are raising their first guide dog puppy, a yellow Labrador retriever named Cariad.

Mrs Keggie said she always thought it would be wonderful to raise a guide dog puppy.

She said: "When the BBC was celebrating Blue Peter’s 60th birthday recently, they invited viewers to send in their memories. I told them I had now retired and become a puppy raiser, and they read my message out on air.”

Cariad came to live in Penarth as a tiny puppy, and is now 10 months old. The couple are responsible for teaching her basic obedience and getting her used to a home environment, noise and the bustle of a town. They are also preparing the puppy for her future as a working guide dog by taking her on trains and buses, and into shops.

After a year or so in their care, Cariad will return to the charity to begin specialised guide dog training.

“People are always coming up to speak to us,” said Mrs Keggie. “I feel proud when they say what a beautiful dog she is, and they are really interested when you tell them she’s a guide dog puppy.

“Their next question is always 'how will you be able to give her up?' and I tell them, 'I don’t know yet – it’s our first puppy!'

“We’ve never had a dog before, but we get good support, and it’s comforting to know we can pick up the phone for advice 24 hours a day. It’s also great if you don’t want the commitment of your own pet dog.”

Guide Dogs is seeking more puppy raisers in the Penarth area. Volunteers need access to a car and must be free to spend time with the puppy for most of the day. Their yard or garden will also need to be securely fenced so that the puppy remains safely within its confines.

Guide Dogs supplies basic equipment, covers all veterinary and feeding expenses, and provides a network of support and advice.

To find out more, ring Guide Dogs Cymru on 0345 143 0195 or email cardiff@guidedogs.org.uk