FOR Mooroolbark's Sue Battye, it has been eight years of puppy love.
Mrs Battye and her husband Peter are now caring for their 11th seeing-eye puppy — a seven-month-old golden retriever/Labrador cross named Nikita.
The couple are volunteer carers for Seeing Eye Dog Australia.
"Knowing I can do something to give back to people who are not as fortunate as me is very rewarding," Mrs Battye said.
"People say they could never do it [adopt a puppy] because they couldn't give them up, but if no one takes on this role then the puppies would all have to grow up in kennels."
While she admits handing the puppies back can be hard, the rewards far outweigh the difficulties.
"A little piece of your heart goes with each one. But then you get a new puppy."
Mrs Battye keeps in touch with many of her former puppies and their owners, and they always remember her. One of Mrs Battye's roles as a puppy carer is taking Nikita out to experience the culture and sounds of Melbourne, so that the puppy gets used to new individuals and experience everyday life.
Every month, she takes Nikita to Hamer Hall in the city for a Morning Melodies performance.
With more than a year-long waiting list for people requiring a seeing-eye dog, SEDA needs more puppy carers in order to support their breeding program.
All costs are covered by SEDA. Volunteers care for a dog from the age of eight weeks until about 12 months of age.
Puppy carers are supported by SEDA the whole time. The organisation helps people train and care for the puppy for the duration of their stay.
"I would totally recommend it," Mrs Battye said.
"It is just a really rewarding thing to do and support is always there if you need it."