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Special Project

Special Project
From the 8th Annual Shorty Impact Awards

The Journey of a Guide Dog

Finalist in Video Series


Since the beginning of 2022, Guide Dogs has produced an eleven-episode documentary series, ‘The Journey of a Guide Dog’, which highlights the journey of our life-changing guide dogs from genetics to retirement.

The primary objective was to create an educational and informative documentary series to raise awareness of the length of time, commitment and love that goes into creating a guide dog, increase the awareness of the work of Guide Dogs, and share the stories of how guide dogs give people with sight loss the confidence to get out and about safely and provide support every single day.

The secondary objective was to showcase our range of staff and volunteer roles to increase interest and brand visibility, support social engagement targets, and establish Guide Dogs as leading canine experts.

We wanted to ensure the series was future-proofed, educational, engaging, and emotive whilst in keeping with our organisation’s tone of voice - light-hearted, natural, and friendly.

We planned for The Journey of a Guide Dog episodes to be released every four to six weeks, all around five to ten minutes in length, on Guide Dogs’ YouTube channel with teaser and episode cut downs for each. After the delivery of all episodes, we aim to release a full-length documentary that combines the episodes, with additional unseen footage, at the end of 2023. In the lead up to the full-documentary release, we planned to create a supporting webpage on Guide Dogs’ website and a trailer for the full-length documentary.

Strategy and Execution

This project was detailed and complex, involving multifunctional teams, including canine experts, volunteers, staff, service users, and our life-changing dogs. We gained a detailed understanding of what the journey of a guide dog entails, created a vision for the series and conducted a content plan with our YouTube and social media strategy in mind.

We scoped, collaborated, and carried out 34 film shoots to deliver a range of digital assets which contributed to the documentary series, and developed a library of digital assets to repurpose for the website, PR opportunities and marketing. 
Comprehensive content briefs were produced detailing the synopsis of each episode. After liaising with wider teams to ensure each brief was accurate, we approached people across the country to share their unique and intimate stories.

But no journey comes without its challenges. Travelling to capture content took time and proved costly, so we planned meticulously to maximise efficiency, occasionally combining shoots. From battling gruelling weather, working to tight deadlines, coming face to face with a flock of escaped sheep, and at times shedding tears, we had a great adventure capturing these stories. Film shoots were attended by a video producer, photographer, and a content producer who captured additional mobile content for social media.

Episodes were edited and optimised for YouTube, including additional accessible versions with audio descriptions and subtitles. The first episode was released in May 2022, and episode eleven in June 2022. As part of our strategy, we produced two sets of social media cut downs, to be released two weeks apart to ensure we continued to garner interest between each episode.
We created YouTube thumbnail designs, keeping aligned with the organisations branding, while making sure to differentiate the thumbnails to offer a unique feel.

We set out to offer a raw and authentic insight into the lives of people with sight loss, in a cinematic television documentary style. This was reflected in the colour grading, style of graphics, edits, and music. Despite slightly differing from the organisation's usual stylistic choices, we felt this better suited the emotional themes and messaging.
Following audience and platform research, we developed a go-live schedule – releasing teaser posts on a Friday afternoon, and our episodes on Saturdays. As the series continued, we reviewed our video analytics and experimented with timings to maximise each release.

While promoting the series, we saw an uptake in popularity of short-form videos and responded by creating additional content on our YouTube channel. Episodes were supported by teaser content and 15-30 second cut downs for social channels and were embedded on relevant webpages across Guide Dogs’ website to support other content.

We also produced a webpage working with search engine optimisation and canine-assisted services teams, which detailed each episode, series information, behind-the-scenes content, and various call to action to encourage visitors to support us, including through volunteering or donations. In conjunction, we developed a tracking dashboard to review throughout. Our series also featured across Guide Dogs’ website homepage throughout the summer of 2023 to increase visibility.


The series proved incredibly successful on our YouTube channel, amassing 162,908 views to date, 695 subscribers and an overall watch time of 7756.4 hours. Our YouTube series playlist attracted 13,787 non-subscribers, further broadening the organisation’s reach and awareness. The most viewed episode to date is episode four, sitting at 41,937 views with a total watch time of 1,342.5 hours.

The series contributed massively to social media engagement targets delivering over 95,000 total engagements across our social platforms. Our short-form videos were also high performing, for example our cut-down of episode one generated 425.4k views on TikTok and is our top performing TikTok of the last two years. Combined, our video content has a total of 1,186,436 views to date.

The webpage has seen 1,530 views since 30 June with embedded episodes producing a total 20,104 views. The largest contributor, episode ten, received 4,441 views.

We showcased 37 staff members and 12 volunteers throughout, educating our audience on these unique roles. Feedback included comments such as - "I would like to extend my gratitude to every puppy walker, trainer, and raisers involved […] I'll be forever grateful’ and ‘We have just signed up and had training to foster – looking forward to being a part of this’.
Our team gained credibility by consistently delivering on promises and have been approached by wider teams to produce content, and external companies such as Channel 5 who took inspiration from our series to produce ‘Puppy School for Guide Dogs’, utilising our footage throughout.


Video for The Journey of a Guide Dog

Entrant Company / Organization Name

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association


Entry Credits