Mathematics undergraduate and guide dog user Ella Caulfield featured on the BBC

Third year Mathematics student, Ella Caulfield, and her guide dog, Rio, have featured in a BBC programme, Britain’s Guide Dog Shortage, as well as appearing on BBC Breakfast, lunchtime and evening news and BBC Radio Oxford. Ella’s interviews raise awareness of the value of a guide dog for a blind or partially sighted person in terms of independence, confidence and welfare.

Britain’s Guide Dog Shortage highlights the life-changing benefits of Guide Dogs and describes how during the pandemic, social distancing measures led to the guide dog breeding programme being shut down and the charity losing a third of its puppy-raising volunteers. As a result, about 1000 people are currently waiting to be paired with a guide dog.

Ella remembers being paired with Rio in 2018, a year after applying:

'I felt lighter, like I was more smiley, more confident. I could move freely and independently without relying on anyone else being there.'

Ella is a long-term advocate for Guide Dogs. Since being paired with Rio in 2018, she has volunteered as a speaker for the charity at their events and with talks to community groups. She is part of her local Guide Dogs fundraising group in Somerset, and in 2021 encouraged fellow undergraduate students at her College, Merton, to take on the challenge of raising £5000 to name a guide dog puppy, which was achieved in 2022.

Having Rio has enabled Ella to leave home and study at Oxford. She says of Rio,

'She gives me that independence that I need, that I crave, to live the life that I want to lead….She’s an excellent guide, and she’s very rarely led me astray.'

The programme can be viewed here: