Residents adopt guide dog puppy

DUBBY HENRY
Last updated 11:44 25/10/2012
PUPPY

TEAM EFFORT: Trisha the guide dog with Selwyn Oaks Village manager Carol Andrews, right, and Nicola Cadogan, from the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind.

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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 system don't work fulltime 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' own canaries and chickens, so it's a perfect place for her to socialise in a wide range of situations."

And the benefits have clearly gone 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 set them for life as guide dogs and provide them with love, care and confidence.

Blind Week 2012 started on Tuesday and runs through until October 29. Funds raised from Blind Week help the organisation give members the training and tools they need to deal with sight loss and lead independent lives - including supporting puppy walkers.

See rnzfb.org.nz for more information.

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