Martin Clunes is to dive headfirst into the world of Britain’s unsung heroes – guide dogs!
In new ITV TV show A Dog Called Laura airing tonight, pooch loving actor Martin Clunes embarks on an adventure that all started with a podcast that told the story of Jaina Mistry, a blind woman whose life was transformed by her trusty guide dog, Laura.
But now, the time has come for Laura to retire, making way for a new four-legged hero.
“I heard Jaina’s story and it was like having a window opened on a whole other world,” Martin shared. “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.”
For a decade, Jaina’s eyes were her faithful companion, a black Labrador cross named Laura. But now, after nine years of guiding her through life’s ups and downs, Laura is retiring.
It’s a bittersweet parting for Jaina, who said: “At the beginning it was love at first sight. She gave me the confidence and freedom I thought I’d never get back, so letting her go will be the hardest part of our journey.
“Keeping Laura along with a new guide dog simply isn’t possible or practical. What will help me though will be her finding a loving family.”
After hearing Jaina’s story on a podcast, Martin reached out to Guide Dogs UK charity and extended an offer for Laura to retire in style at his Dorset home, alongside his own furry friends, Heidi, Penny, Jim, and Bob Jackson. Assuming Laura and the gang hit it off, Jaina’s worries about Laura’s future will be put to rest.
But the journey doesn’t end there. Join Jaina as she takes on the formidable task of finding a worthy successor for Laura. Her quest leads her to Guide Dogs UK’s national base in Leamington Spa, where they breed up to 1,500 puppies annually. It’s where Jaina first met Laura, and it’s where she’ll meet her next guide dog.
While Jaina waits for news about her future guide dog, Martin takes viewers on a behind-the-scenes tour of the guide dog training world. These pups start their journey as tiny one-year-olds, living with dedicated ‘foster parents’ before embarking on formal training. A year later, they’re matched with their new owners, ready to become their eyes for the next decade.
Martin also sits down with the remarkable individuals responsible for getting these dogs ready for their vital roles.
The heartwarming show concludes with Jaina meeting her new guide dog and a visit to Martin’s Dorset home to see how Laura is adjusting to her new family.
A Dog Called Laura will air on ITV1 and ITVX tonight (Thursday, 5 October) at 9PM.