Guide dog Ringo makes his small-screen debut in the new Guide Dogs ad, which premieres on Saturday 11th March. He is partnered with Josh, who is also in the advert, playing the role of Max as a young adult. Max is one of two brothers whose mischievous rivalry comes under threat when Max begins to lose his sight. But with the help of Guide Dogs, the brothers realise that their bond doesn't have to change.
It takes around two years to train a guide dog, and the dogs spend those first formative years in the homes of our dedicated volunteers who help with their socialisation and basic training, and most importantly give them a loving home to grow up in while they learn.
Pups are usually born in a volunteer’s home before moving on to live with a volunteer puppy raiser for a year. Ringo spent his first year with Carol, a puppy raiser in Scotland.
Puppy raiser, Carol
Carol says: “Ringo was my first Guide Dog pup and we had lots of fun learning together. He was a sweet, calm and confident puppy and a joy to raise. I’m very proud of him and delighted that he’s doing so well with his Guide Dog Owner.”
Carol kindly shared these photos of Ringo as a puppy:
Carol gave Ringo a brilliant start in life, and set him up for success when he went on to his guide dog training.
While Ringo was at ‘guide dog school’ learning the ropes, he spent his evenings and weekends with Louise, a fosterer who has taken care of over 20 guide dogs in training!
Louise’s children were still in primary school when her husband first suggested getting a dog. While Louise didn’t have any experience of dogs, she was also keen, but as they both worked full-time it seemed impossible.
She says: “We really really wanted a dog but it just couldn’t work with our lifestyle – we both worked full-time and the kids were in school. We didn’t want to leave a dog in the house on their own while we were at work all day.”
“One of my friends was volunteering for Guide Dogs and she told me about the fosterer role and what it involved. It sounded like a really good idea. While I’m at work the dog will also be away at the training centre learning to be a guide dog. And then we could pick them up at the end of the day. It was a winner all round, it suited our lifestyle and we were also helping a really important charity.”
Volunteer fosterers look after guide dogs in training for around six months. They take them to the training centre each day, Monday to Friday, dropping them off in the morning and and collecting them at the end of the working day. All our fosterers receive full training in dog care and welfare, and learn about our bespoke world-class training programme.
Louise says: “The training was really informative. I’d never looked after a dog before so it was really interesting. They told us about the different stages of training and how we can help support each dog’s journey.”
“We had to keep up some of the rules but it was also just like having a pet dog. In the weekday evenings the dogs are quite tired from a busy day training so they’re lovely and chilled. And on the weekend we would have lots of fun.”
Louise says: “Every single dog we’ve looked after has had a different personality and you have to adapt all the time. We’ve learnt so much from volunteering. Ringo was such a funny and cheeky character, up to mischief a lot of the time and did his things in his own way! He was one of the liveliest dogs we've fostered, he was always on the go wanting to play, going for free runs and loved to roll around in the mucky stuff. He really kept us on our toes but we wouldn't have had it any other way!”
“You do get attached to each dog like they’re your own. You try to tell yourself not to, as it’s only for a few months, but you just do. It’s heartbreaking when it’s time for them to leave and I’ve cried a few times. But in the back of your mind you have to remember why you’re doing it and what it’s all for.
“We can’t wait to see Ringo again on the TV and see how far he’s come. Knowing that we’ve been part of his training journey, and hearing about the difference he’s made to Josh’s life, makes me feel so proud.”
If you can consider fostering a guide dog in training, or would like to know about other volunteering roles at Guide Dogs, please go to our website.