SHE’S a real Diamond!

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Trainee guide dogs

■ Diamond is one of 1,000 guide dog puppies Guide Dogs will breed this year, mostly labrador/retriever crosses.

■ Over the next 12 months, she will be exposed to as many different experiences as possible.

■ She will be taken to busy town centres, noisy crowds, across roads, school corridors and playgrounds, theatres, shops – anywhere a blind person might need to go.

■ She will go on bus and train trips to ensure she is comfortable with public transport.

■ Penny will also teach her to walk ahead on the leash – not “to heel” – as a guide dog does, and obey simple commands.

Right now this pint-sized pup is cute and cuddly, an adorable bundle of fun, but she will grow quickly with an important role ahead of her.

For Diamond is the Ipswich and Felixstowe Star’s fifth guide dog puppy – following in the footsteps of Star, Faith, Sterling and Robson – and will one day be the eyes of a blind or partially-sighted person, their constant companion and helping them to enjoy greater freedom to be independent and live life to the full.

Puppy walker Penny Parker is now helping the nine-week-old pup to settle in to her new surroundings and over the next year she WILL expose her to a host of different experiences as part of her initial training.

Diamond is a daughter of Guide Dogs brood bitch Star, who was the Ipswich Star’s first puppy for which readers, businesses and organisations raised money to pay for her breeding and training.

Star third litter was an amazing ten puppies, bringing to 25 the total to which our first guide dog puppy has now given birth.

“She is settling in really well, is sleeping a lot, playing and full of curiosity,” said Mrs Parker, of Western Avenue, Felixstowe.

“For the first few days I had three of them in the house – retired trainee guide dog Umber who lives with me, Diamond and Robson, and it was a bit of a handful with them all getting to know each other.

“Robson has now left us to go on to the next stage of his training and we are confident he will make an excellent guide dog for someone in due course.”

Diamond – named to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – enjoyed plenty of cuddles on her first official engagement as she met the youngsters from the Kingsfleet Craft Club, at Kingsfleet Primary School, Felixstowe, who had been busy making her a basket.

Fundraising for the Star’s sixth guide dog puppy is now complete and now an appeal has been launched to raise £5,000 for a magnificent seventh.

■ If you would like to donate to the Ipswich Star Guide Dog Appeal, send your cheques – made payable to Guide Dogs – to Richard Cornwell, Felixstowe editor, Felixstowe Star, 172 Hamilton Road, Felixstowe, Suffolk, IP11 7DU.

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