The future of the state's guide dogs is in safe paws.
Five new assistance pooches were presented with their first harnesses at a special Guide Dogs NSW/ACT graduation ceremony at Gledswood Homestead today.
Labradors Shae, Saber, Sami, Holly and Sully were rewarded after nearly 18 months of intensive training.
Sami undertook her training with a puppy raiser in Elderslie.
Guide Dogs puppy development manager Karen Hayter said she was proud to see the group graduate.
"Guide Dogs is mainly funded by the community so we hold the ceremony where supporters can come and celebrate," she said.
Ms Hayter said Guide Dogs participants were sent out to puppy raisers about seven weeks of age.
She said puppy raisers faced a great amount of responsibility.
"They must have a fully fenced yard, attend weekly training sessions, socialise the puppy with other dogs and let the puppy live inside," Ms Hayter said.
"We give puppy trainers all the food and equipment they need - the dogs are on a complete dry food diet.
"We also pay for all veterinarian bills. The only cost is people's time."
Ms Hayter said the furry participants returned to the Guide Dogs centre after 12 to 14 months.
"The puppies come back for assessment and then go into one of four programs - breeding, guide dogs, pet therapy or ambassador dogs," she said.
"Today's graduates are all from the Guide Dogs program."
Guide Dogs training manager Eddie Sullivan said the training wasn't over just yet for today's graduates.
Mr Sullivan said Shae, Saber, Sami, Holly and Sully would now start training with their new humans.
"They are learning things that are important for their development, and to develop into confident and resilient guide dogs," he said.
"We are very proud and always excited to see the latest batch of graduates. We have about 50 graduates per year."
The next crop of Guide Dogs puppies were also showcased at today's event.
Four puppies - aged seven to eight weeks - are almost ready to launch into training.
Local training session co-ordinator Jo Lamont said Guide Dogs was well supported in Macarthur.
Ms Lamont said there were 10 puppy raisers in the local area, but she would love to see that number rise.
"These are typical puppies that need the right training. My role is to be a support network for local families," she said.
"We have regular training sessions in Camden, Campbelltown and Narellan."
If you would like to raise or train a guide dog, visit www.guidedogs.com.au or call 1800 804 805.