Guide Dog Services

Guide dogs provide more than mobility; they also provide companionship, enhanced independence and improved confidence. Choosing to live and work with a guide dog is a big decision, and we are committed to helping our clients work their way through the entire process.

Guide dog puppy in training, Orrissa is sitting down and giving puppy dog eyes to the camera

What Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs provide

Guide dogs give people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision, freedom and independence. They help people to get around safely and confidently. They also make wonderful companions.

Facts about having a guide dog:

  • Your guide dog and its equipment, free of charge.
  • One-to-one training with a professional Guide Dog Mobility Instructor.
  • Customised instructional program to meet your individual needs.
  • Follow up and support for the life of the guide dog team.
  • Access to financial support in cases of veterinary emergencies or sudden illness.
  • When the time comes for your guide dog to retire, we will talk with you about the potential for a successor dog.

Is a guide dog right for me?

If you think a guide dog might be right for you, please answer our short self-assessment quiz. These questions will help you determine if guide dog mobility is the right choice for you at this time in your life.

A very young guide dog puppy sits snuggled in someone's arms sleepily

Volunteering with guide dogs

There are lots of volunteering opportunities with our guide dogs, including becoming:

If you can open your heart and your home, you’ll be fully supported by our dedicated, experienced staff while the dog is in your care.

All food, registration and vet costs will be covered, and you will be supplied with everything you need to succeed.

 

 

Puppy Raiser Kendall and guide dog puppy, Orrissa are walking off to the left hand side

Vision Loss Assistance Dogs

Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs has implemented a new level of service for clients. Our Vision Loss Assistance Dogs (VLAD) programme will re-purpose dogs that do not qualify as a working guide dogs but have the skills to help clients in other areas. The dogs will not be used for guiding work but will be able to help clients in a variety of other roles: giving confidence, helping with balance, and visibility when out in public, assisting with mobility and other tasks to enable clients to become more independent.

Any client of Blind Low Vision NZ can apply and be assessed for a Vision Loss Assistance Dog. If you believe you would benefit from a Vision Loss Assistance Dog or you know someone you think might be interested, the team would love to hear from you.

Download our Vision Loss Assistance Dogs brochure to learn more.

Client Marvin looks adoringly at his Vision Loss Assistance Guide Dog, Mason. Marvin is in a wheelchair.

Adopt a Dog

Occasionally guide dogs need a change of career. Usually, this is because they retire from working as a guide dog for health reasons or through old age. Younger dogs may be withdrawn from the training programme if they are not suitable to work as guide dogs.

Some of the withdrawn dogs will go on to do great work for another service, and some will become wonderful companion dogs for people with a disability. Priority is given to these placements.If you are successful in adopting a withdrawn dog, an adoption fee to a maximum of $1,250 will apply, and you will be required to sign an Agreement stating you take full responsibility for the health, welfare and security of the dog. No withdrawn or retired dog may be used as a guide for someone who is blind, deafblind or has low vision.

Please register your interest in adopting a dog by clicking on the button below. Please note that you will be required to pay an online Administration fee of $25.00 during the application process.

Puppy Raising

Open your homes to one of our adorable puppies and embrace the opportunity to help Kiwis who are blind, deafblind or have low vision to live a life without limits.

Golden retriever guide dog puppy lying down

Guide Dog FAQs

Got a burning question about our amazing pups? See if we’ve already answered it below!

The five key phases of their life are:

  • Conception: Specially selected brood bitches and stud dogs are mated through the dedicated Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs breeding programme.
  • Socialisation: At approximately 9 weeks of age, each puppy is placed with a wonderful volunteer Puppy Raiser. Puppy Raisers help pups develop the confidence and behaviour needed for the future. They introduce the puppies to situations guide dogs may face.
  • Training: After around 12 months with a Puppy Raiser, the budding guide dog returns to Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dog centre for six months intensive training and assessment.
  • Working: Once a dog is trained, they’re matched with a person who is blind, deafblind or has low vision, who becomes its handler. Together as a team, they can work for up to 9 years before the guide dog retires.
  • Retiring: Once a dog retires, they enjoy a leisurely life. Often, that’s with the people who have played an important part in the dog’s life, such as the handler or Puppy Raiser. Sometimes that’s with a new family.

Guide dogs can go to most public places, including restaurants, offices, clinics, hospitals, shops, cinemas & hotels. They can also travel on public transport.

Guide dogs can go to most public places, including restaurants, offices, clinics, hospitals, shops, cinemas & hotels. They can also travel on public transport – including buses, planes, ferries, ships, trains, taxis and shuttles.

These rights are outlined in the Human Rights Act (1993) and the Dog Control Act (1996).

There are some places a guide dog can’t go. These include some animal enclosures at zoos and hospital departments such as burns units, oncology and intensive care wards.

Like people, guide dogs need to be well-behaved wherever they are. Although dogs are legally entitled to go anywhere with a person who’s blind, deafblind or has low vision, other people sometimes challenge that. It helps if the dogs are so well behaved they’re overlooked. For any dog to be on its best behaviour, they can’t be distracted by people wanting to pat or talk while the dog’s working.

At Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dog centre, we mainly breed Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and purpose-bred first crosses. Known for their intelligence and steady, friendly nature, these breeds make excellent guide dogs.

Please don’t distract any guide dog by petting them when they are with a person who’s blind, deafblind or has low vision (their ‘handler’). The dog might lose their concentration – putting the person in potential danger.

Passers-by often want to pat or approach a guide dog. Other distractions include offering the dog food, talking to the dog or making noises.
As well as potentially putting the handler in harm’s way, it can put the guide dog in danger too. Playing with the dog or feeding it treats it doesn’t usually eat could make them ill or lame.

Every person’s different, and some guide dog handlers might be happy for you to pat their dog, but please ask first. If the person says no, please respect their choice.

If you’d like to ask questions, please check if the person has time. Guide dog handlers are often approached by people but don’t always have time to stop and chat.

Unfortunately, no, we do really appreciate the generosity seen with offers of puppies and dogs; however, we don’t accept donated dogs into our programme.
We have a specialised breeding programme where we work towards ensuring the consistent production of dogs with desirable traits for guide dog work.

The vast majority of our dogs are bred from our own specially selected stock, with a small percentage that are donated or exchanged from other organisations, so that only the very best dogs are added to the programme, in terms of both health and temperament that is required.

Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs is accredited by the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF). This means our processes, systems and buildings – and importantly, dogs – are of a world-class standard.

Contact us

Our breeding and training centre is at 30 Mcvilly Rd, Manurewa, Auckland 2102 and is open Monday through Friday from 8.30am to 4.30pm.

Supporter Care

If you have a question about your donation, please contact our Supporter Care team on 0800 366 283 or email supportercare@blindlowvision.org.nz . Our Supporter Care team are available from 8.30am to 5pm, Monday through Friday.

Media enquiries

If you are a journalist, please contact our Marketing and Communications team on communications@blindlowvision.org.nz .

 

A Guide Dog Mobility Instructor is out training a guide dog. They are crossing at a pedestrian crossing and walking towards the camera.