Meeting and Events Assistant Manager Marvin Hayes raising money for The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association

If you’ve ever visited The Mere, there’s no doubt you’ll have spotted some fantastic animals around the resort; from stunning birds to  MEREKats! We’re very big on animals and we do our bit to look after our wildlife, do you remember when our greens team built a bug hotel?  One of our team members in particular is a big fan of animals, well in particular, dogs. Marvin Hayes, meeting and events assistant manager, has raised guide puppies for the past eight years and in May, he’ll be taking part in the Chester Half Marathon to raise money for The Guide Dogs for The Blind Association. We caught up with him to find out what training a guide dog puppy entails…

Marvin, how did you get into puppy training for guide dogs?

My younger sister Marsha and I always wanted a dog, so our dad looked into what is called ‘puppy-walking’.

What does puppy walking involve?  

Puppy walkers play a vital role in the early socialisation and education of guide dogs.  When they are around six weeks old, puppies will begin their early training, remaining with you until they are around a year old, living with the family. It’s a full time role which involves caring, feeding and training the puppy basic obedience.

How many have you raised?

We have raised six guide dog puppies over the course of eight years and I would love to do more, one day! The dogs we raised were Winter, Zappa, Alfie, Rex, Marley and Gus (They all came with the names, apart from Alfie who was sponsored by a primary school so they chose the name)!

What’s the hardest aspect of training a guide dog puppy?

Giving them back to the guide dog association for further intensive training is painful but you understand they are going to do something very important and that pain eases when you receive the next pup and the whole process begins again.

It’s very difficult not to spoil them and let them jump on sofas etc. because the whole idea is that you have to prepare a professional working dog to be well behaved at all times because at some point they will be responsible for a blind person’s life.

What has been your most memorable moment training a dog?

There are simply too many memories but if I had to pick one, we once took Alfie to the primary school who had sponsored him to educate them on the whole process, and The Guide Dogs for The Blind Association rely on this sort of involvement.

Tell us more about your run in the Chester Half Marathon…

On Sunday 19th May, I will be running the Chester Half Marathon to raise money for The Guide Dogs for The Blind Association and would be grateful for any contribution at all to the charity.

If you would like to donate to The Guide Dogs for The Blind Association, you can do so on the website here.

Good luck with the race, Marvin!