Return of the dogs in blue coats
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AFTER a three-year gap, a national charity has sent five dogs to spend their puppyhood in the Moray area.
The four-legged recruits for Guide Dogs for the Blind are staying with experienced local puppy walkers.
Now aged between seven and nine months, the puppies will be increasingly out and about throughout the area's communities.
So the walkers have issued a polite reminder to local people not to distract the animals when they are learning their work.
The puppies can be identified thanks to their bright blue coats, which are partly designed to acclimatise them to wearing something around their bodies.
They also remind the public that this animal is working, and it is vital the dog learns it must concentrate on the job at all times.
Walker Margaret Woodward said: "A morning’s work can be completely undermined by just one person breaking the rule and petting the dog, as it will think that the rule can be broken and will try to greet the next interested person.
"Most local people, however, have remembered the ‘do not distract’ message from previous years and are playing their part, much to the relief of the puppy walkers."
The puppies are here under a pilot scheme, which sees the walkers self monitoring. That reduces the costs of sending supervisors from the charity's Forfar training centre.
Should the pilot prove successful, it could save much-needed money and enable more pups to go through the system.
And with a long backlog of people with sight limitation waiting for a guide dog to help them, local supporters are hoping the pilot proves a success.