The search is on to find this year's pack of puppy-loving volunteers to collect money for the Blind Low Vision NZ Red Puppy Appeal street collection, and Tauranga's Luci Carter knows first-hand how vital the collection is for the future of guide dogs.
On Friday, March 26 and Saturday, March 27, the collection will raise funds to train and care for a new generation of much-needed guide dogs.
Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs breeds and trains about 100 puppies each year, and it
takes nearly two years, and more than $50,000 to raise and train just one guide dog.
Carter has raised 15 guide dog puppies in her 21 years as a volunteer puppy raiser.
She sponsored guide dogs when she lived in Kawerau for five years. When she moved to Tauranga in 1999 she saw that the city's first guide dog puppy had been placed and so applied for guide dog service.
"I got involved with Red Puppy Appeal because of the dogs and also because I just wanted to be useful and it's such a good cause.
"Each dog plays such an important role in people's lives and that's reflected in the hard work that goes into making sure the dogs are up to it."
Carter said she enjoyed taking a 9-week-old pup and doing foundation work with it before handing the pup on to its next phase of guide dog training.
She had helped to raise a range of guide dog breeds, including labradors, golden retrievers, standard poodles and a border collie.
She encouraged people to get behind the appeal because Blind Low Vision NZ needed all the donations it could get to raise about 100 puppies a year.
Every day, an average of six people turn to Blind Low Vision NZ for support with their
Guide dogs help people who are blind, deafblind, or have low vision retain
their independence and move through life safely and confidently.
Tasked with making what could potentially be life-or-death decisions on behalf of their
person, guide dogs have to learn hugely challenging and sophisticated skills.
Blind Low Vision NZ (formerly Blind Foundation) runs the country's only guide dog breeding and training facility that is 100 per cent funded through the generosity and support of Kiwis.
Blind Low Vision NZ chief executive John Mulka said the organisation was "extremely grateful to everyone who supports our Red Puppy Appeal".
"Guide dogs play a life-changing role for people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision, and I want to also acknowledge all the volunteers who help us train guide dogs for people who really need them."
With a street collection goal of $300,000 this year, Blind Low Vision NZ needs 2000
volunteer collectors to join the pack.
People can join the appeal for a couple of hours to help support the next generation of guide dogs by registering online at redpuppy.org.nz or calling 0800 787 743 (0800 PUPPIES).