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Doncaster couple foster charity’s first pup on its support dog scheme

Marky, pictured with foster couple Gary and Joanne Smillie from Woodlands, is the first pooch to be recruited by charity Support Dogs as part of their new puppy programme
Marky, pictured with foster couple Gary and Joanne Smillie from Woodlands, is the first pooch to be recruited by charity Support Dogs as part of their new puppy programme

A Doncaster couple have agreed to foster cute puppy Marky – the first pooch to be recruited by charity, Support Dogs.

The tiny pup could have a big future as an assistance dog and Gary and Joanne Smilie, of Woodlands, have agreed to become his temporary owners for the next 12 months.

Marky, a Labrador/Golden Retriever cross, has been recruited by Support Dogs as part of its new puppy programme.

The eight-week old pup will be living with his new foster family, after they applied to the charity to become ‘puppy socialisers’ earlier this year.

“We’ve fostered assistance dog puppies before and while it can be stressful at the start it can also be extremely enjoyable – and at the same time we’re doing something that’s incredibly useful and worthwhile,” said Gary, 52.

“We’ve never wanted pet dogs; we want dogs that can achieve a goal, and if we can do that and improve someone’s life then that’s good enough for us.”

Support Dogs, whose national training centre is in Sheffield, train assistance dogs for children with autism and adults with epilepsy and physical disability, enabling them to lead safer, more independent lives.

Marky was sourced from a reputable private breeder by the charity, which is aiming to increase its supply of assistance dogs in the face of rising demand for its services and an ever-increasing waiting list.

In the past the charity has recruited adult dogs from a variety of sources including other charities, rescue centres and unwanted pets. The puppy programme is key because it means that puppies can be raised to have positive experiences and to prevent fears from developing in adult dogs.

The charity is now appealing for more volunteer puppy socialisers in the Sheffield and South Yorkshire area. If you are interested in becoming a Support Dogs’ puppy socialiser, or to foster an adult assistance dog in training contact the charity on 0114 26178090 or info@supportdogs.org.uk email address.