Louise has dedicated over 10 years to giving guide dogs a loving home while they’re in training. In 2020 Louise’s family cared for guide dog Ringo who is now partnered with Josh, the star of a new Guide Dogs TV advert.
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.”
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 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. 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 has helped care for around 20 guide dogs over the years that she’s been volunteering, including guide dog Ringo who is partnered with Josh and stars in the new Guide Dogs TV advert.
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. But in the back of your mind you have to remember why you’re doing it and what it’s all for.
“We’re really enjoying seeing Ringo on TV and seeing 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.”