The Pet Show comes to the National Centre

The Guide Dogs National Centre was paid a visit by ITV’s The Pet Show for an episode, which aired on Sunday 29th November.

Host Joanna Page travelled to the centre to find out about all the work that goes into training up a guide dog, as well as the Buddy Dogs programme for those dogs more suitable for a different role.

Joanna met guide dog trainer Gemma Eley and guide dog in training Molly, a golden retriever, who guided Joanna expertly through an obstacle course during a blindfold walk.

Joanna then sat down with Anika Halward, a CAS Operations Manager, who had buddy dog, Anna, with her.

Anika explained, “Some of our dogs that don’t make it as guide dogs, we career-change them because they have certain quirks. For example, it may be that they didn’t want to guide or they may not have felt comfortable in the harness.”

Labrador-cross Anna keenly demonstrated her ‘quirk’ for the cameras - attention-seeking whining and barking that meant being a guide dog wasn’t suitable for her!

I didn’t know that buddy dogs existed, and I think it’s just wonderful that she’s just had a different career change and will be the most fantastic buddy dog one day to someone.
Joanna Page

Mum Ashleigh was on hand to explain just how a buddy dog fits into a family – her son Declan has sight loss and is paired up with buddy dog Barney. 

Ashleigh explained why the family had applied, saying “The main reason for us was how it would benefit Declan and let him see what it would be like to have a guide dog in the future.

“Barney has actually brought us closer together. I couldn’t think of a better dog, he’s amazing.”

Joanna reflected, “It’s just been fascinating coming here today, but what’s been the most amazing bit for me is just seeing the importance of all the dogs. If one is not going to become a guide dog, then it will have another career and it will become a buddy dog."

Here, they think that all dogs are important.

Listen to us from 19 minutes in on episode 5 of The Pet Show, available on ITV Hub.

In this section