Alan Guy has got used to admiring looks from passers-by in the pubs, shops and streets of Barnsley.

Alan, from Barnsley, has been a puppy socialiser for South Yorkshire-based assistance dog charity Support Dogs for over a year. And during that time he’s been lucky enough to look after two adorable yellow Labrador puppies, before they embark on their full training at the age of 15 months.

First there was Buddy, and now there’s Walter, both attractive young pooches with head-turning good looks who have great futures ahead of them as professional service dogs.

Support Dogs is a national charity based in Sheffield, who train assistance dogs for people with epilepsy, autism and physical disabilities, enabling them to lead safer, more independent lives.

To cope with the rising demand for its services the charity now has an active puppy programme but now needs more local volunteers to look after the pups for the first year of their lives when they are still too young for full training.

“We take the pups everywhere with us to get them used to everyday situations, so as well as the shops, the supermarket and the parks, we’ve taken them  to the hospice, an old people’s home - and they’re very popular the in The Old No 7 pub in Barnsley and our local the Sun Inn in South Hiendley,” says Alan, pictured left with Walter. “Everyone loves them.”

Alan, aged 61, who retired last year, and wife Brenda had always had German Shepherds, but when they saw the Support Dogs’ advert in the Chronicle, decided to give being puppy socialisers a try.

And they love it. After a year of bringing up Buddy (right) they now have Walter (left and below). “You’ve obviously got to like dogs as pups can be a bit demanding and hard work at first, but that’s how puppies are,” adds Alan.

“Buddy was no problem at all – he was always very well-behaved and real mellow. Walter chewed a toilet roll this morning – but they’ve both been very good.”

Alan and Brenda enjoyed the puppy training sessions provided by Support Dogs’ trainers but the thing they’ve enjoyed most is the puppies’ company - in and out of the house.

Although Alan says it was a little bit hard saying goodbye to Buddy after bringing him up for a year, the blow was lessened by the arrival of Walter just a few days later.

“We really enjoy being puppy socialisers for Support Dogs and I’d recommend to other people who love dogs but for whatever reason can’t commit to owning one,” says Alan. “It’s great fun, and it’s fantastic to know that we’re playing a part in producing a future life-changing assistance dog.”