A BIG-HEARTED Stourbridge business owner is helping to train up a new Guide Dogs pup to become a helpful working pooch for people with sight loss.

Craig Fletcher, of oven cleaning service Ovenu Stourbridge, is supporting Guide Dogs’ pup Ralph throughout his extensive training programme.

The yellow Golden Retriever/Labrador cross replaces black Lab Selsey, which Ovenu franchisees began sponsoring in 2021.

Selsey sadly developed a slight weakness in one hip which meant she was unable to progress to become a working Guide Dog, but Craig continues to support the charity by sponsoring Ralph.

Now aged 10 months, Ralph is spending time with puppy raisers Toni and Adrian, two of the 16,000 volunteers that 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 help a visually impaired person.

So far Ralph has been settling in well and is described as “sweet and charming” as well as being brilliant at boarding public transport and confident in busy environments. His food manners are ‘almost there’ – his report card says.

Stourbridge News: Craig Fletcher who runs oven cleaning service Ovenu StourbridgeCraig Fletcher who runs oven cleaning service Ovenu Stourbridge (Image: Ovenu)

Craig, who lives in Stourbridge and has been running his business since 2011, 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.”