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The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association ("Guide Dogs") is one of the UK's best-known, and best-loved, charities. Guide dogs have been bringing independence and mobility to blind and partially-sighted people for over 80 years, and today there are more than 4,700 guide dog partnerships in the UK.
Each year Guide Dogs breeds more than 1,300 puppies, which spend their first year in the homes of volunteers, before working with specialist trainers who teach them the skills needed to guide a visually-impaired person. This takes about six months, including several weeks' training with the new owner. A guide dog has a working life of around five to six years, and it's not unusual for someone to have five or more dogs over their lifetime.