Before you joined Guide Dogs, you worked as a flight attendant and before that, as a vet nurse. What motivated you to take up the role of Training Kennels Manager?
I wanted to extend myself into even more of a management role. As a flight attendant, I had moved into teaching and manager roles, and after becoming a vet nurse, I had acquired a lot of particular animal skills. By coming to Guide Dogs, I have combined both. I really enjoy it here and have learnt lots of other new skills too.
You were a volunteer at Guide Dogs once. For anyone interested in volunteering at the Training Kennels, what advice do you have for them?
You will need to have a huge passion for dogs, but there are lots of opportunities to learn. For example, new volunteers go through an intensive training programme as consistency is a must with our dogs. Be prepared to get muddy, drooled on, covered in dog hair and your hands dirty. Volunteering in the Training Kennels is a fantastic opportunity to gain practical dog handling skills and insight into canine behaviour. Plus, every day will be different. We need people who will commit to at least one, four-hour shift a week. If you are interested in volunteering, and once we resume regular services, visit the Volunteer website.
What kind of decisions do you regularly make, as Training Kennels Manager?
Every day is different; that’s why I love my role. I have meetings with my team and with other managers. I have a lot of interaction with pet transportation, animal food providers, and many more organisations that I deal with frequently like the Ministry of Primary Industries, Animates, Unitec and various cleaning companies. I am often researching ideas to keep our dogs interested and learning during their time in Training Kennels such as a playground reflecting some of the surfaces they might encounter as guide dogs. Every day I have many conversations with all the people who make the Training Kennels work so well. Then, of course, I make sure to find time for interacting with the dogs.
You have overseen some exciting changes to the Training Kennels. Can you tell us about one or two changes that most excites you?
We renovated and reopened the West Wing, which is an extension to the Training Kennels. The West Wing allows dogs who are struggling in a kennels environment to go somewhere quieter. It has an enrichment room which mirrors a home lounge to make the dogs feel more at home, which helps to settle them. Also, the updated outdoor facilities now include new enrichment playgrounds designed specifically for our dogs. The massive tractor tyre swing and the playground in the free-run give the dogs different structures to play on and enjoy while at the centre.
Outside of work, what are your hobbies and interests?
When I am not working at Guide Dogs, I am spending time with my family, partner, friends and two dogs. I love to travel and get out of Auckland, whether it’s local or internationally and have so many places I still want to visit even after eight years of travelling the world as a flight attendant. When I have spare time I love to keep active, and some of my favourite things you will find me doing are, running, bush walks with the dogs, snowboarding, group fitness classes at Les Mills and watersports.