Tiny bundle of fluff AKA disability assistance dog Tinks is already a mini superstar at Support Dogs.

But now the little Llasa Apso, who has been a disability assistance dog for client Charli Colquhoun for the past two years, is set for wider fame as one of the canine stars of the new CBeebies series ‘Dog Squad’.

Tinks is one of five working dogs selected by the BBC to take part in the new 15-episode series which combines live action with animation and follows the pooches and their owners or handlers on a series of missions in which they show off their particular life-changing abilities.

In the programme Tinks - who is voiced by actress Joanna Paige of Gavin and Stacey fame - and her canine chums go on a number of adventures. The three episodes in which she stars showcases Tinks’ skills at fetching help, picking up lost or dropped items and generally helping Charli cope with a variety of scenarios – getting ready for a party, finding a birthday present, and doing some gardening.

For Charli, filming the series over five days in Glasgow earlier this year filming brought back many happy memories. Charli worked in the BBC’s children’s department for a number of years before becoming ill and being diagnosed with the progressive genetic condition Ehlers Danloss Syndrome, which causes hypermobile, painful joints and fatigue and has left her reliant on a wheelchair,

After the diagnosis of the syndrome and also Crohn’s disease put an end to her career in her early 30s, Charli went through some dark times before applying to Support Dogs to train her puppy Tinks to be her disability support dog.

Since then, the pair have been inseparable, with Tinks providing invaluable help around Charli’s London flat, and providing lots of canine support.

That relationship is mirrored in Dog Squad, although Charli found it initially quite challenging to reproduce. “I talk to Tinks all the time in real life but usually in private not in front of a film crew so sometimes it was hard to perform in front of a camera,” she says.

Filming meant very long days for someone with Charli’s chronic condition and for a dog the size of Tinks, but although she sometimes struggled with fatigue and brain fog, Charli says the whole experience had been brilliant.

She adds: “It was tough for Tinks as she had to repeat a lot of the actions before she knew what she was doing before filming, but it was well worth it; it’s been amazing.”

Charli says she hopes the publicity surrounding Dog Squad will shine a light on the life-transforming work done by assistance dog charities, in particular Support Dogs.

“They are all working dogs taking part in the show, not actor dogs, and it’s easy to forget that because they perform for the camera so well,” she says. “I hope viewers realise that Tinks and I are team with a professional working partnership, we’re not just acting a part.”

  • Dog Squad is broadcast on CBeebies on weekdays at 4pm from Monday November 7. Charli and Tinks’ first episode is on Thursday November 10. 


Sponsor Tinks

You can sponsor Tinks from just £5 a month and help cover the cost of training more amazing assistance dogs. Support Dogs receives no government funding and relies solely on donations to make these life-transforming partnerships happen. Help us to change more lives by sponsoring Tinks today.