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The Perfect Puppy

Media Release
From the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind
For immediate release

The Perfect Puppy

Ask Fiona Sharp a question about raising puppies and you’re guaranteed a knowledgeable answer.

In fact it was the repeated questions from the public and dog lovers alike that inspired lifelong guide dog puppy breeder Fiona to write a book entitled ‘Training the Practically Perfect Puppy’.

“I was always getting phone calls,” says Fiona, a resident of the Kapiti Coast.

“People on the phone saying ‘Is this the guide dog lady? I’ve got this puppy – now what do I do?’”

“The same questions kept cropping up and eventually the final push came from a local radio manager who bought a puppy from the SPCA and was having trouble training it. She kept telling me to write it all down,” says Fiona.

Fiona took up the challenge and ‘Training the Practically Perfect Puppy’ is the result. The book, a literary debut for Fiona, is being launched this weekend to coincide with the annual Guide Dog Appeal held from Friday 28 to Sunday 30 March.

‘Training the Practically Perfect Puppy’ offers a common sense guide to those who wish to have a well-behaved and happy puppy.

The book deals with the first sixth months of a puppy’s life, covering the basics of early training and socialisation. Mainly aimed at those who have just acquired their first puppy, it also acts as a great refresher for those who have forgotten what it is like to have a puppy in the house.

Fiona and her husband Jack initially started their dog breeding career in England when their Golden Retriever bitch, Sherry was paired with a champion sire in 1969, producing a litter of eight puppies. They offered three of the original litter to Guide Dogs for the Blind UK and all three went on to qualify as working guide dogs.

Now 34 years on, after 22 years spent breeding guide dog puppies in Britain, and a further 10 years breeding puppies for the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind the Sharps have had four brood bitches, 17 litters and 116 puppies!

Overall, ninety percent of the puppies that the Sharp’s have bred and raised have gone on to be trained as guide dogs or used as breeding stock.

The Sharps’ last brood bitch Cara retired from breeding two years ago which prompted Fiona to reassess their breeding and taking her own “creaky bones” into consideration they decided to retire from breeding at the same time as Cara.

“I really miss having the puppies around,” says Fiona. “It wasn’t an easy decision to give up the breeding, it’s so rewarding although it can be hard work!”

“I’ve picked up a lot of tips about breeding puppies, not only through my experience but through contact with other breeders, puppy walkers and by absorbing methods used by the RNZFB’s Guide Dog Services,” says Fiona.

“You only have to look at a guide dog on the street to know that those methods work!”

Fiona will be signing her book from 9am – 4pm on Friday 28 and Saturday 29 March from her Guide Dog Appeal stand, in the Coastlands Shopping Mall, Paraparaumu. All the royalties from book sales will go to the Fiona Sharp Endowment Fund for Guide Dogs.

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