Rugby businessman guides ‘sweet and charming’ puppy through Guide Dogs training programme - The Rugby Observer

Rugby businessman guides ‘sweet and charming’ puppy through Guide Dogs training programme

A ‘SWEET and charming’ Guide Dogs pup is being supported through his extensive training programme by a Rugby businessman.

Golden Retriever/Labrador cross Ralph is being sponsored through his training by Dave Simmonds of oven cleaning service Ovenu Rugby.

Ralph replaces black Lab Selsey, who Ovenu franchisees first started sponsoring in 2021. Although excelling in training, Selsey developed a slight weakness in one hip which meant she was unable to progress to become a working Guide Dog.

Despite the setback, Dave wanted to continue his sponsorship in support of Ralph.

Now aged 10 months, Ralph is spending time with Puppy Raisers Toni and Adrian, two of the 16,000 volunteers who work with Guide Dogs.

He will remain with them until he’s 12 to 14-months-old before being considered for full Guide Dog training, with the longer-term ambition of being assigned to a visually impaired person.

So far Ralph is settling in well and is described as ‘sweet and charming’. His latest report card says he is brilliant at boarding public transport and is confident in busy environments, while his food manners are ‘almost there’.

Dave, who has run the business since 2010, said: “Guide Dogs is a fantastic charity and I’m pleased to be able to give something back by supporting its life changing work.

“These dogs provide those with sight loss greater mobility, independence, social interaction – as well as companionship.

“It’s also a way of saying a huge thank you to my clients who, without their continued support, I wouldn’t be in a position to sponsor this adorable pup.”

Guide Dogs’ CEO Andrew Lennox said: “It costs approximately £56,000 to support each guide dog through from birth to retirement, and without all the contributions of our donors and the efforts of our fundraisers we would not be able to do what we do.”

Visit for more information or to donate to Guide Dogs.

Guide Dogs is looking for volunteers in Rugby who could provide a loving home to a guide dog puppy for the first year of their life.

The charity is holding a Puppy Raising Information Day for people interested in the role on Saturday February 24 at 10am until 1pm, at its Midlands Regional Centre at Edmondscote Manor, Warwick New Road, Leamington.

Contact Volunteering Coordinator Gail Pajak via [email protected] or on 0800 781 1444 for more information.

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