Royston rescue pooch trains as pilot in TV series Dogs Might Fly

Alfie with dog trainer Victoria Stilwell and dog behaviourist Matt Ward.

Alfie with dog trainer Victoria Stilwell and dog behaviourist Matt Ward. - Credit: Archant

She thought TV producers were barking mad when they approached her for a show about dogs flying planes, but since filming, Royston animal rescue co-founder Louise Jest can safely say anything is possible.

Alfie took part in the show

Alfie took part in the show - Credit: Archant

A total of 12 rescue shelter dogs were chosen by experts for the television series Dogs Might Fly, and Louise is over the moon that her pooch Alfie, who has since been re-homed, was one of the three finalists.

Louise is co-founder of Luna Animal Rescue. She said: “I must admit that when I first heard about the show I did think they were completely mad.

“The training that was involved and the other things that the dogs learned to do are amazing.

“It just goes to show that dogs can be trained to do almost anything – even if they have a rescue background.

Rescue centre co-founders Louise Jest and Natalie Howe

Rescue centre co-founders Louise Jest and Natalie Howe - Credit: Archant

“Alfie is very happy learning to do new things in his new home.”

During the 10-week training period, filmed as part of a six-part series, the scientists look at the dogs’ communication, empathy, memory and reasoning skills and animal welfare specialists train them up to do impressive stunts.

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The show is presented by Heart FM host Jamie Theakston, who said: “I can guarantee that you will never see your dog in the same light again.

“You’ll see just how remarkable rescue dogs really are. People give up on them too easily and this series will show us why we shouldn’t. They are just as deserving and just as intelligent.

“I was surprised by our dogs’ ability to display empathetic behaviour bearing in mind the difficult circumstances most of them had grown up in.

“Even if a dog has been deprived of human contact or has been badly treated, it is just as able and motivated to initiate a new relationship with a human very quickly.

“The rescue dogs quickly transformed. It just goes to show that with enough patience and dedication you can achieve anything.”

Louise said: “It’s amazing what they taught the dogs to do. I must admit when they told us what they were trying to do, I thought they were barking, but I was very impressed with the outcome.”

Dogs Might Fly begins at 7pm, Sunday, February 28 on Sky 1.

Find out more about the animal rescue centre at