Dog lovers beware: Puppy School for Guide Dogs is 'truly life changing'

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Friday: Puppy School for Guide Dogs (Channel 5, 8pm)

As a nation of dog lovers, it is a truth pretty much universally acknowledged that most puppies are ridiculously adorable.

Just look at the reams of clips and videos on social media. However, a select few of these furry friends are truly life changing.

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For visually impaired people around the country, the canine graduates of the Guide Dog Puppy School can help them achieve the fullest lives possible.

But exactly what does it take to turn a playful bundle of fur into a fully-fledged hero hound?

This uplifting and emotional fly-on-the-wall documentary series aims to find out, meeting guide dogs at every stage of their amazing journey, from newborns to trainees and veterans, as well as the humans that both train and rely on them.

Along the way, there will also be a spotlight on other types of assistance canines, including a PTSD support dog with a passion for surfing, and a diabetes detection dog that is definitely living the Chelsea high life.

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It all begins with an introduction to Hester, a visually impaired 16-year-old and Paralympic skiing hopeful who’s about to become one of the UK’s youngest guide dog owners. However, it remains to be seen how well or badly her retired Buddy Dog – and now beloved family pet – Dash, copes with an upstart interloper.

Meanwhile, back at the Guide Dog Puppy School, one-year-old Labrador retriever cross Eva is about to undertake the obstacle course. This tough challenge is a critical part of guide dog training, and she absolutely has to master it.

As if that wasn’t difficult enough, young Eva must then demonstrate that she can resist the ultimate test: food temptation. After a slight mishap, her training kicks in and she sails through the challenge with flying colours.

Over in Shrewsbury, we meet Ela, a six-year-old Golden Retriever and her human mum, Kath. Ela is part of Guide Dogs’ breeding programme and she’s already eight weeks pregnant. Cameras follow her as she undergoes her final ultrasound from Guide Dogs’ Breeding Advisor, Kim, who is also rather sweetly known as the puppy midwife.

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As the episode unfolds, Ela goes into labour and several hours later, delivers six healthy pups. But just when they think it’s all over, number seven decides to put in an appearance.

Cameras catch up with Ela and her pups a week later as they all undergo a health check. Six of them are in tip-top condition, but one of them has a broken tail which needs some expert attention.

It’s not just girls doing their bit for breeding. Golden Retriever Trigger is a legend who has sired more than 300 puppies. The programme catches up with him as he heads off to Guide Dogs HQ to father the next generation of smart puppies.

Finally, we meet Natalie, who has cerebral palsy, and her rescue Labradoodle Cleo who she adopted six years ago. Natalie reveals she could immediately tell that the pooch was special and, sure enough, after a quick spot of training from Support Dogs, Cleo now helps Natalie live independently.

Not bad for a dog’s life, is it?

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