What is your role at Guide Dogs?

I am the Guide Dog Health and Breeding Programme Manager. My role oversees the breeding centre, the guide dog breeding stock, the early development programme (puppies up to nine weeks old) and the health and nutrition of Blind Low Vision NZ’s Guide Dog stock across New Zealand.

What are the favourite and least favourite parts of you role?

Although very busy, all aspects of my role are a pleasure and a privilege. I particularly love supporting our mamas through their whelpings and working with our team to provide cutting-edge care to our dogs. The sadder parts of my role are when we need to euthanase one of our guide dogs.

Before you joined Guide Dogs, you worked as the Operations Manager for the SPCA. What is your background?

I studied veterinary management at Plymouth University in the UK and then worked extensively in veterinary practice, followed by six years working for two global veterinary corporates and then finally the SPCA. I also have a bachelor’s degree in veterinary nursing and a certificate in canine behaviour. I’m pretty keen on upskilling so would like to one day tackle a Master’s in Animal Welfare, ethics and law or an MBA.

Breeding Centre team with Rhea’s pups.
Breeding Centre team with Rhea’s pups.

What kind of decisions do you regularly make as Health and Breeding Programme Manager?

My job is quite broad (which I love!). I make decisions on our dogs’ health and nutrition, on health products or policies, which dogs will be bred, and the running of the breeding centre and early development programme.

You have overseen some exciting changes at the breeding centre. Can you tell us about those changes?

Along with an overhaul on all policies to ensure they are at ‘best practice’ standard, the main changes that have been implemented are around improving our broods’ experience in the breeding centre and tailoring care to the individual. Whelping and rearing puppies takes a large physiological and psychological toll on any dog, so by reducing these stressors as much as possible and providing maximum support individual to the specific dog, we significantly improve outcomes.

 Outside of work, what does your life look like?

I’m married to a local dairy vet and have two small children who keep me on my toes! I love trekking with my dogs and anything on the water.