Jaina and Laura

At the age of 17, Jaina Mistry, from Leicester, nearly died after an allergic reaction to penicillin. Within three hours of taking the medication, her eyes, throat and skin were covered in blisters and she was rushed into intensive care. Jaina was treated for third-degree burns, spending three months in hospital in total. She was diagnosed with an extreme form of Stevens-Johnson syndrome which affects around one in every three million people. She lost 60 percent of her skin and within 12 months had lost her eyesight.

In 2012, after being assessed and trained by sight loss charity Guide Dogs, Jaina qualified with her first guide dog Laura, a black Labrador cross Golden Retriever, on her 28th birthday.

When I met Laura for the first time, it was love at first sight. Her energy, her temperament, her calm and gentle nature - she put my mind at ease straight away. Laura settled in really well and became the first dog to be part of our family.
Jaina, guide dog owner

After nine years of loyal service, helping Jaina pursue a successful career in fitness and further her speaking career, the time came for Laura to retire. Jaina added: “I didn’t want to accept that Laura would have to hang up her harness, but I realised for her health and well-being, it was necessary.” She retired on Sunday May 30 on her 11th birthday and was living with Jaina, until a suitable retirement home could be found for her.

When Martin Clunes heard Jaina’s story on a podcast, he called sight loss charity Guide Dogs and offered Laura a new home for her retirement, with his own canine chums, Heidi, Penny, Jim and Bob Jackson.

I heard Jaina’s story and it was like having a window opened on a whole other world. It’s an incredibly moving world where animals are trained to do a life-changing job, and it dawned on me that most of us know virtually nothing about the secret lives of Britain’s heroic army of guide dogs.
Martin Clunes, actor

'A Dog Called Laura with Martin Clunes', the ITV commissioned documentary from Buffalo Pictures, follows Jaina’s next huge challenge to find a replacement for Laura. As Jaina waits for news of her new guide dog, Martin heads out on his own into the secret world of guide dogs.

Finally, the film will follow Jaina with her new guide dog, and visiting Martin at his Dorset home to see how Laura is settling into life with her new family.