A STAR struck guide dog volunteer from Snitterfield has featured in a brand-new Martin Clunes documentary.
Caroline Clifton, from Snitterfield, is a volunteer Breeding Dog Holder for sight loss charity Guide Dogs based near Leamington.
These volunteers have a guide dog mum living with them full-time, with all costs covered by the charity.
They look after these doggy mums, like any other pet dog, and, when the time is right, help them to give birth at home to the next generation of guide dogs.
Caroline lives with guide dog mum Georgie, a Golden Retriever, who had her first litter of guide dog puppies on May 11 this year.
Caroline said: “Helping Georgie have her first litter is one of the best things I’ve ever done.
“It was incredible when the first pup came out. It was very quick and easy.
“My nineteen-year-old son Harry has a very special bond with Georgie and he was there to support with the birth too.
“Georgie completely trusts us and was at ease with us being there. You do feel a massive sense of responsibility, but you have to put that to one side and focus on the wellbeing of the mum and pups.
“I was so proud of Georgie because she was the perfect mother. It was instinct that took over.”
Georgie gave birth to nine puppies, six boys and three girls. At just a week old, Georgie and her pups had a special visit from dog-lover Martin Clunes, who’s recently rehomed a retired guide dog called Laura and has made a documentary about the charity.
The ITV commissioned documentary from Buffalo Pictures follows a guide dog owner, Jaina Mistry, as she trains with her new guide dog, and sees Martin meeting the people involved in creating and training guide dogs in the UK.
Caroline continued: “We had a great time when Martin visited, to learn more about what my volunteering role and meet Georgie’s litter.
“We had a lot in common – we both like dogs and horses, so had plenty to chat about.”
Georgie’s puppies stayed with Caroline for seven weeks, before moving to live with their volunteer puppy raisers, where they will stay for around a year, before they start their formal guide dog training.
Caroline added: “Once they could open their eyes and go outside, they were in the garden most days – they were just a delight.
“Seeing when the guide dogs actually reach a person with sight loss is incredible.
“It’s a gift for them to be able to ‘see’ through the dog’s support.”
The charity’s only breeding centre in the UK is just outside Leamington and people need to live within an hour’s drive of this site to be a breeding dog holder volunteer, like Caroline.
The charity is currently in urgent need of more homes for guide dog mums, with all costs covered.
A Dog Called Laura with Martin Clunes: The Secret World of Guide Dogs is on Thursday (October 5) at 9pm on ITV1.