The coronavirus pandemic interrupted countless education program this year, forcing people to learn from home.
Among them were the many puppies who are training to work as seeing eye dogs.
This week, the Bendigo Seeing Eye Dogs puppy caring community were able to start meeting and training in groups again after months virtual support.
Bendigo region Seeing Eye Dogs puppy development trainer Brittany McCarthy said regardless of how the training is delivered, it was important to give the puppies the best chance at learning the skills to help support people with low vision.
The puppies have still been able to socialise, walk and do obedience training for puppies have all still be possible through the coronavirus pandemic.
Becoming accustomed to the smell of hand sanitiser, seeing people wearing masks and other changes to their routine have been some of the challenges the pups have had to deal with in 2020.
"COVID-19 may have changed the way we do things, but at Seeing Eye Dogs the mission is still clear: to provide puppies with the best start possible on their journey to become Seeing Eye Dogs for people who are blind or have low vision," she said.
As formal Seeing Eye Dog training re-commences, the Bendigo group is looking to recruit more puppy carers.
"You don't need to have any prior experience with dogs or dog training to welcome a furry little bundle of fun into your household for 12 months," Ms McCarthy said. "In return, we're looking for people or families to love and train our pups with the support of the local Puppy Development Trainer and the puppy caring community."
Vision Australia's Seeing Eye Dogs is a national provider of guides dogs in Australia for people who are blind or have low vision.
Volunteer carers take the pups from eight weeks until 13 months to train the puppies.
Seeing Eye Dogs assists puppy carers by providing food, equipment and training as well as covering the cost of vet care.
For more information visit www.sed.visionaustralia.org