Puppy keeps busy at village
It doesn't take a village to raise a guide dog - but for one local retirement village it's been fun trying.
Trisha the labrador is a guide dog-in-training who has made herself at home at Selwyn Oaks Village in Papakura for the last four months.
Most guide-dog trainers in the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind's volunteer part-time so they have time to socialise and train their puppy.
But Trisha is a special case.
She lives with Carol Andrews, who manages Selwyn Oaks Village - and every morning Trisha and Ms Andrews head off to work together.
The busy social environment of the residential aged care and retirement village community is ideal for the puppy, her carer says.
"We have a huge range of people at the village - residents with varying levels of independence and mobility, as well as different members of staff," she says.
"We also have children and dogs coming to visit, and Selwyn Oaks owns canaries and chickens, so it's a perfect place for her to socialise in a wide range of situations."
And the benefits work both ways.
"Trisha is loved by our residents, especially those in hospital care," Ms Andrews says.
"She makes us smile and laugh. People drop in just to say hello to her and she's a real connection between our residents and the Papakura community. And we know that, down the track, Trisha will make a big difference to someone else's life, and not just here."
The Foundation of the Blind places around 100 puppies a year with volunteer puppy walkers around the country, aiming to ready them for life as guide dogs.
Blind Week 2012 runs from October 23 to 29. Funds raised help the organisation give members the training and tools they need to deal with sight loss and lead independent lives. See rnzfb.org.nz for more information.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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