First Natalie Hibberd’s disability assistance dog gave her the confidence to start writing children’s books, now the pair have enjoyed an appearance on primetime TV.

Wheelchair user Natalie, who has cerebral palsy, and Cleo the Labradoodle featured on Channel 5 programme Puppy School for Guide Dogs. Wonder dog Cleo has been trained by national charity, Support Dogs, with life-changing results for Natalie.

The cameras followed the duo’s adventures, alongside other working dogs, and showed how Cleo helps Natalie with day-to-day tasks, including getting dressed, picking things up, opening doors and fetching help if she falls over.

On the programme, the 25-year-old describes Cleo as “the centre of my life and of my world”. 

The show described how Cleo was enrolled in training at Support Dogs training centre in Sheffield. Natalie said that as “Cleo was pretty cheeky as a puppy” and she was an older dog, “my expectations were not sky high when I submitted the application.” However, she added: “She took to it like a duck to water, which surprised everyone. It’s very strange to look back on it now and think how far she has come from the little naughty puppy she was.”

Natalie said afterwards: “We did a whole day of filming with the crew, with Cleo doing her work and an interview with me. “It was pretty cool being able to showcase how Cleo has helped me to live more independently.”

Natalie, who has had a book published called Inside Out, about ‘insiders and outsiders’, added: “As an author I’ve been on podcasts occasionally, but I’ve never been on TV before. It’s great. “Me and my family had a little bit of a shin-dig when the programme aired.”

She and Cleo filmed from 10am until 5.45pm. “It was a long day, but Cleo enjoyed herself,” she said.

Natalie was almost 22 when she was first able to get undressed without another person in the room. That’s because Natalie now had the help of Cleo, a rescue dog.

Before Cleo, Natalie felt isolated, as she didn’t like going out in her wheelchair, due to “hostile” people. “I was very depressed and anxious,” said Natalie, who lives with her parents, Carol and Mark in Petersfield, Hampshire.

“I’m a different person now - I’ve become more confident. If it wasn’t for Cleo, I wouldn’t do half the things I do now.”

Puppy School for Guide Dogs is still available to watch online here

Support Dogs trains dogs to help people with autism, epilepsy and physical disability, empowering them to lead safer, more independent lives.

To find out more about the charity’s work, visit