Blind Cockerpoo puppy born at Dogs Trust Basildon learns new tricks at Dog School

The use of specially adapted training methods has helped Darwin, a visually impaired Cockapoo, to graduate from Dog School and find his forever family.

Darwin was born at Dogs Trust Basildon in October after his pregnant mother was smuggled into the country. A couple of weeks after Darwin was born, it was discovered that he was completely blind.

Due to Darwin’s visual impairments, he required a dedicated family, who were willing to take on adapted training methods to support his needs. Thankfully, after a short stay at the rehoming centre and in a foster home, through Dogs Trust Basildon’s Home from Home scheme, Darwin found his forever home with Bethany Godbert in Hertfordshire.

Darwin attended the Dogs Trust’s School where the coaches adapted their training plans in order to support and guide him to suit his needs for him to successfully graduate.

With thanks to the players of People’s Postcode Lottery, whose support helps to fund vital roles including Dog School Coaches, ensuring dogs of all ages receive all if the TLC they need whilst they are in the care of Dogs Trust and Dog School.

Charlotte Vallancey, Dog School Coach, said: “As Darwin is blind, we needed to adapt our usual training methods in order to accommodate Darwin and ensure the training was best suited to him and Bethany.

“Working on verbal cues was important and we would use clear sounds that Darwin could easily pick up, as well as using the smell of tasty treats as a guide for him to follow. We really focussed on the skills that Darwin would need to live safely and happily with his family.

“We are very grateful to players of the People’s Postcode Lottery for helping us to fund key roles. By helping to fund our Dog School Coaches, we are able to provide help and support to dogs like Darwin and his loving owners, Bethany.”

Bethany adopted another dog from the Dogs Trust Kenilworth rehoming centre in 2019, three-year-old Beagle, Newton.

Bethany said: “Newton immediately accepted Darwin as his fur brother and best friend, and they are great together and love to play chase in the garden. When we are out on walks, Newton wears a bell on his collar to help Darwin navigate, a training tip we picked up from Dog School.

“I was so impressed with how accommodating Dog School were with Darwin, he thoroughly enjoyed attending the training sessions, and all their help and support enabled me to understand how I can better communicate with Darwin and make both our lives that much easier. Since Darwin graduated, I began volunteering at the Dog School each week, so I can help dogs like Darwin.”

Dog School provides in-person and virtual group training classes and 1-2-1 sessions for dogs of all ages. The training courses provide essential training and behaviour advice and practical support to help you create a lifelong bond with your dog.”

If you would like to find out more about Dog School or would like to book onto a training course, please visit: 

If you are able to offer a home from home for a foster dog like Darwin, please visit: or contact: