A GUIDE dog puppy met Cub Scouts in Torfaen in a bid to encourage volunteers.

The 13-month-old Labrador retriever, Sparkey, visited First Panteg Cub Scouts.

Sparkey has become a canine ambassador for Guide Dogs, visiting groups and helping the charity deliver puppy demonstrations.

Guide Dogs Cymru needs volunteers to look after more puppies like Sparkey, particularly in the Cwmbran area. The role means taking responsibility for the care of guide dog pups from six weeks until about 14 months, when they are returned to the charity to begin specialised guide dog training.

Guide Dogs’ puppy walking supervisor, Mel Wharmby, said: “We’re looking for dedicated volunteers who can care for the pups full-time because at the end of the day, if we don’t have puppy walkers we don’t have guide dogs.”

Sparkey is leaving his home in Abertillery next month to start advanced training with Guide Dogs UK in Leamington Spa.

Waving him off will be volunteer puppy walker Trish Williams, who has been caring for him since he was small, teaching him the basic rules of behaviour as he prepares for life as a guide dog.

Volunteers prepare the puppies for their working life ahead by taking them on trains and buses.

A young guide dog puppy is a full-time companion for its temporary owners, and it is rewarding to raise a dog that will one day become the eyes of a blind person, giving him or her a new independence.

Guide Dogs supplies basic equipment and covers all veterinary and feeding expenses.

To become a puppy walker, volunteers will need access to a car.

They will have to be with the puppy for most of the day, and free to take their puppy into many varied environments – sometimes busy and difficult.

For more details, call Steve Kersley on 07785 907728 or e-mail Steve.Kersley@guidedogs.org.uk