This Woman Is A Puppy Midwife And It Sounds Like The Best Job Ever
A charity worker who delivers guide dog puppies for a living has arguably the best job around.
Mum-of-two Nicole Bottomley, 58, from Morton Morrel, Warwickshire, is part of Guide Dogs UK's specialist team that helps welcome 1,400 bundles of fluff into the world every year.
Nicole has been at the charity ever since she was 18-years-old, and always knew she wanted to work with guide dogs, after seeing them in training at the Guide Dogs' National Breeding Centre in Leamington Spa when she was much younger.
"Even when I was at school, I knew I wanted to work with them," Nicole explained. "There weren't any vacancies at that point though, so I worked for a short while at a veterinary practice, before progressing to Guide Dogs UK, where I have been ever since."
She continued: "The dogs are very rewarding and I love supporting our volunteer families.
"It's amazing bringing these little puppies into the world, knowing they are, hopefully, going to go on and become life changers."
Nicole started out as a kennel assistant for the charity, and worked her way up to manager, then moved over to the breeding centre as a dog care manager.
After having two children, she joined her current team, visiting dogs at volunteers' homes, where they are being cared for, and helping to deliver pups.
She explained: "We are there every step of the way, from the time the bitch is mated. We go after four weeks and conduct an ultrasound scan to confirm that she is pregnant and get an estimate of the size of her litter. An average is seven to eight puppies. After that, we visit weekly.
"Once she has her puppies, we do litter visits during the weeks that the pups are out in the nest, before bringing them back to the breeding centre at six weeks, when we vaccinate and microchip them, then settling them into kennels. They are here for a week before they move on to their puppy walking homes, which can be anywhere around the country."
The little doggos are given basic training with their puppy walker, learning basic commands and how to walk ahead on a lead. Handlers get them used to social situations by talking them into cafes and shops.
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Pups start at training school at a year old, learning to walk in a straight line, unless there is an obstacle, and to stop at kerbs and wait for the command to cross or turn left or right.
They are matched with an owner when they graduate, who they then train with for another four weeks.
Nicole continued: "Being there when the dogs are giving birth is really the best bit.
"Most births go smoothly, with no problems. We are there to support if there are complications.
"Last year, we had one mum who was very poorly after the birth. She had six puppies and we ended up having to split them and they were fostered by two other mums. It can be a lot of thinking on your feet and can be quite stressful, but I love it."
Nicole went on to explain that the delivery is a team effort between her and other midwives, and volunteer families are a crucial part in the delivery process.
There are around 280 bitches and 90 studs to produce guide dogs, resulting in around 1,400 pups a year.
She added: "That's a lot of puppies and the aim is for as many as possible to become guide dogs. For some, it doesn't suit their temperament but they are redirected to other UK charities or rehomed as family pets.
"We are constantly looking for new volunteer homes, within an hour of the centre, where someone is not in full-time employment, so the dog is not left for more than three hours and where they are able to devote six weeks to a litter of puppies once a year. And we'll give lots of training and support to the right person, with a lovely, caring disposition."
While her job might not be everyone's cup of tea, Nicole loves it regardless.
"So many people say work's a b*tch, but I work with bitches and have the best job in the world!" she laughed.
Featured Image Credit: PA Real Life
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