Four puppies will be headed to Regina later this summer to take part in guide dog training with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.

It’s the first time guide dogs have been trained in Saskatchewan.

“This is a great opportunity for our community to really get to know about our guide dog program,” Christall Beaudry, executive director of CNIB Saskatchewan, said at a training session on Wednesday.

The CNIB said the organization received an overwhelming number of applicants. Two guide dog managers from Ontario were in Regina this week for home visits and to start training the eight volunteers who will welcome a puppy into their homes. They brought along Pepper, a 13-week-old black lab who is getting his training started in Ontario.

The puppies, who are bred in Australia, will live with the volunteers from 10 weeks old to 12-15 months old.

CNIB Guide Dogs started two years ago in Toronto. Now, it’s expanding west into Saskatchewan, and hopes to be coast-to-coast.

“People are very excited about it and very excited to be involved,” Karen Hanlon, manager of canine development and training, said. “We’ve had an overwhelming interest in people interested in puppy raising for us.”

Puppy raisers are volunteers, but the CNIB covers all expenses.

Christopher Adams said it was an easy decision for him to get involved in the program.

“The most important part about the program is really the end game for the dogs,” he said about his decision to sign up.

He lost his family dog, Jude, a few months ago, and felt this was the perfect time to adopt a new trainee.

“The week he died I had the original call for applicants for the CNIB Guide Dog program,” Adams said. “I just felt like somehow he was telling me it was OK to move on and try and help someone else and help another dog out.”

The puppies are expected to arrive in Regina in August.

With files from CTV Regina's Colton Wiens