SPECIAL BOND: Carlene Peterson, of Buderim, is caring for two-year-old golden retriever Bailey during his seeing eye dog training.
SPECIAL BOND: Carlene Peterson, of Buderim, is caring for two-year-old golden retriever Bailey during his seeing eye dog training. Che Chapman

Dog-gone but comes back again and again

CARLENE Peterson farewells Bailey when he heads off to school every morning and is there for him when he gets home.

But Bailey is not a school kid - he's a golden retriever learning to become a seeing eye dog.

Mrs Peterson and her husband, Len, are volunteer carers for Seeing Eye Dogs Australia.

They look after seeing eye dogs after-hours while they undergo their formal training during the day at SEDA's Maroochydore base.

Bailey is the sixth dog the Buderim couple has welcomed into their household since they started as volunteer carers two years ago.

Mrs Peterson said they got involved after the death of their 14-year-old golden retriever.

Mr Peterson has macular degeneration and during a visit to Vision Australia, they saw a sign about caring for seeing eye dog puppies.

"The puppy caring was a bit full-on but it was suggested we might like to care for the dogs in training," Mrs Peterson said.

She said it was much like having a teenager in the house.

"They are not perfect by any means. You've got to be firm with them," she said.

Mrs Peterson said they enjoyed the company of the dogs but always kept in mind that they were for others who needed them.

SEDA is in need of more volunteers like the Petersons to look after dogs in training and say it is the perfect arrangement for people who wanted to raise a seeing eye dog puppy but could not commit the time, perhaps due to work.

All of the dogs' expenses are covered.

SEDA instructor Barb Brocklehurst said prospective carers needed to live within a 10km radius of Buderim so the dogs could be picked up for training between 7.30am and 8.30am and dropped back home between 2.30 and 3.30pm.

Care periods could range from a couple of weeks, while a carer was on holidays, to up to six months.

"Some people do it continually and some people do it casually. As people move on, we always need to get more people into the roles.

"People go away, people have holidays, so we try and have people on hand."

To find out more, go to http://www.seda.org.au


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