Dog days shine over darkest hours
Steph Scurr has been through life's wringer and come out the other side brushing herself off with the help of some furry friends.
At just 28 years old, Scurr is preparing to present her story of courage and the healing power of dogs at Nelson's Young and Inspired event in June.
Her years at intermediate and high school included domestic violence, alcohol abuse and self-harm.
Scurr described herself as "broken" and "looking down that dark tunnel of no return".
Now 10 years on Scurr said she felt "fantastic".
"It's amazing, life is good.
"Even though I've been through some pretty sh*tty stuff, I wouldn't change it for the world because I wouldn't be me."
Scurr grew up with dogs and was always thinking of ways to work with them including becoming a vet, working with customs dogs and training guide dogs but all those options were rejected due to not being able to put animals down or having to move to the North Island.
Volunteering for causes in Nelson became Scurr's escape from her challenging family life and a way to feel respected while giving something back to the community.
She was still studying at Nelson College for Girls when she started volunteering with Better Together Assistance Dogs which meant taking dogs to spend time with people with disabilities and challenged children.
Scurr went on to volunteer for Presbyterian Support where she helped out with daily chores taking care of elderly.
"For me, it was something nice to do, you'd always feel valued when you went there. They always looked forward to seeing you and you always looked forward to seeing them."
During her moments of having a dark cloud hanging over her, Scurr wanted to end her life but she said she turned her life around when she realised "I just don't want to be that person".
"I can't sit there and feel sorry for myself, I have to be doing something."
Despite the joy Scurr experienced in working with the elderly, she said she knew what she wanted to focus her life on "and it was something to do with animals".
In 2005, after several unsatisfying retail jobs and volunteering around Nelson, Scurr joined the Nelson ARK and became a youth trustee before becoming a paid employee at ARK in 2009.
Scurr said back in those days, Nelson had no such thing as a doggy daycare business, but ARK started one up to pay for the running of the organisation.
This is where Scurr found her passion.
It wasn't long before the doggy daycare part of the business was deemed not "viable" but two people saw potential in the up and coming service.
Put up for sale by ARK, Steph Scurr teamed up with Leanne Colley, becoming the proud owners of a pooch paradise in 2014.
Scurr and Colley have about 40 dogs a day, doing full days Monday to Friday.
Scurr said she couldn't see herself doing anything else.
"People aren't as much fun as dogs, they just love you unconditionally."
Motivated by being told that she would "never be anything", Scurr was proud to say she had proven them wrong.
"I have actually become someone and I am living my dream."