A round of applause for our new guide dog graduates and a big thank you to everyone involved in their success!

Guide Dog Ozzy is a yellow Labrador Retriever who graduated in April 2022.

Ozzy wearing a harness
Ozzy wearing a harness (qualification picture)

Guide Dog Ozzy is so much more than just a guide to her new handler – she is a confidante, companion and best friend. This new client has spent her childhood dreaming of the day she would graduate with a Guide and Ozzy has met all her expectations. She has many cute nicknames now and her wiggly bottom when she greets her client in the morning with a toy in her mouth is something special to observe. Of course, it isn’t without hard work, but they enjoy working through things together and looking forward to what the future holds for them both. A lovely working environment in this seaside North Island town, plenty of cuddles (even on the couch occasionally!) and free runs at the local beach mean this team are positive and happy together. Well done team!

Puppy Raiser: Cliff and Liz Dawson

Guide Dog Layton is a black Labrador Retriever who graduated in May 2022.

Black Labrador Retriever named Layton wearing a harness
Layton wearing a harness (qualification picture)

This is a story about embracing your differences. The newest team you may see out and about in the Wellington area is different because they are the only team in all of New Zealand whose handler is in a wheelchair (this means you will be able to spot them pretty easily!). This 54-year-old Guide Dog Handler has cerebral palsy and low vision (no depth perception or distance) and has been using a wheelchair since 1995. She is open in talking about her own experience living with cerebral palsy and low vision, the challenges she is faced with and how she works to overcome those obstacles. She uses her personal experiences to help others living with disabilities and does not let her disability define her.

Leading an active and diverse life, she has several achievements on her list. She received the Order of Merit in 2016, she started her own business called “Back Up Technology Solutions” providing guidance and training for people working with specialized technology, she uses and promotes essential oils to help people in finding holistic approaches/natural solutions with certain health issues, she goes to the gym, does Tai Chi, attends a monthly book club, participates in Toast Masters and she married her husband 16 years ago. When this dog was identified as a strong contender for her, he was put to the test to see how he would cope with the differences of working alongside of a manual chair, a power chair and a walking frame. It seemed as if he had been waiting his whole lifetime for a career with this person, unfazed by all of the new and exciting differences.

Congratulations to this new GD team and a heartfelt thank you to everyone who had a hand in their development, it takes a village!

Puppy Raiser: Simon Ash

Guide Dog Sienna is a yellow Labrador Retriever who graduated in May 2022

Yellow Labrador Retriever named Sienna wearing a harness
Sienna wearing a harness (qualification picture)

New guide dog Sienna makes the most of her down time – she has too, as she leads an action-packed day around a busy university campus in Auckland. Her down time involves sleeping at her handler’s feet during meetings or at the side of a lectern while her handler delivers a lecture or tutorial to students. She loves to meet new people and of course a campus delivers this but she is devoted to her new ‘mum’ who is a first-time guide dog handler. Even the 2 cats she lives with are very slowly coming around to the idea that this beautiful dark golden Lab is here to stay. Her new handler is a very social, positive and energetic woman who has a PhD in computing and mathematics and used to work in Starship Children’s Hospital as a pediatric nurse so Sienna is being very well cared for and is in very capable hands! In the weekend her down time involves a walk at the beach and plenty of cafe visits with friends. “Can’t believe I didn’t seek guide dog mobility earlier” is a comment frequently used by this besotted new handler.

Puppy Raiser: Jennifer Gray