Brooke with a Red Puppy Appeal collection bucket

I have to tell you all about my collecting for the Red Puppy Appeal last weekend!

I had an awesome time collecting outside supermarkets. I made a lot of new friends of all different ages, including a lot of small children. It’s so strange that humans can be that small but get so big! I know that sometimes people can be a bit scared of me, so I was very patient and calm waiting for my pats. I don’t mean to brag but it was very impressive. I’m starting to catch on that people going ‘aww’ means I’ll probably be getting pats. I’m clearly one smart puppy.

I also went to an office to collect, which was very exciting. I got so much attention I had to have a lie down half way through. I’ll tell you, being this gorgeous is exhausting. I met a working guide dog and made a special effort to be on my best behaviour. My puppy walker was very proud of me. I may be getting a bit cheekier at home, but I know there’s a difference between work and playtime. I’m so glad I was able to help with the appeal. A huge thank you to everyone who offered up their time for this very important and worthy cause. I’d love to give you a personal thank you if you’d like to come up to the Comms office. This will involve giving me more pats.

Besides raising money, I’ve been visiting university a lot this week. I even made a special guest appearance at a BLENNZ university preparation course. Just to make sure everyone knew I was still there, I waited until a pause in the talking to give the biggest sigh I’ve ever done. I was just being courteous to those who couldn’t see me. I’ll try and be a little more subtle in future.

Until next week!


Brooke the guide dog puppy in training

Black labrador puppy in a red dog collar

You won’t believe how much I’ve grown. I’ve graduated from my puppy collar to a proper dog’s collar. I feel much better in this bigger collar and I am more than happy to strut my stuff down the dogwalk for any visitors.

With my increasing energy, I get a bit excited when I see my friends and family, so I’m slowly learning that I need to stay settled till I’m allowed to say hello. As much as I’d like to show people how happy I am to see them, I can’t jump on people when I’m a qualified guide dog. Good habits start young so I’m trying my best to get the hang of it now. Even though I’m taller and more energetic, be assured I’m still just as cute.

I’ve been visiting busier places and am now more confident, my listening skills are also getting better. I’ve been to university and through the main street of Auckland city. I’m still getting used to stopping at traffic lights, but apart from that, I’ve been a model pupil. I’m so good on the bus I’ve even startled a few people who didn’t notice me sitting under the seats till it was time for me to hop off.

I’m glad I can go unnoticed, but I’ve realised this week that I’m becoming a bit of a star. A Guide Dog face to face fundraiser came to my door the other day and was thrilled to hear I was around. When she learnt my name, she asked if I was ‘THE Brooke’. Of course we had to have a mini photo shoot, no one can resist this adorable face. Now all my neighbours know who I am and can see first-hand the work I’m doing. I’m really glad I can raise awareness about the importance of guide dogs, and of course I’m not complaining about all the attention I get.

I’m out on the street fundraising today for Red Puppy Appeal, I’ll make sure to get some pictures I can share with you next week!

A black and white photograph of puppy walkers, including Mark Leishman, and guide dogs in training, walking in a Champ Dogathon.

The first Guide Dog Centre in New Zealand was opened in a small premise in South Auckland in 1973. Prior to that guide dogs were brought in from abroad to help those who required their services.

From its initiation in 1973 to 1997 over 148 blind or low vison New Zealanders were provided with guide dogs.

In 1990 the current Guide Dog Centre was opened by Te Paea Paro Muru (Sophie Muru), the Maori Princess. At the time the centre was considered to be state of the art as far as kennels worldwide were concerned.

In the early 1990s Blind Foundation Guide Dogs became International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) accredited, with the latest accreditation being secured in 2016.

The first annual Guide Dog Appeal, which grew out of International Guide Dog Day, was held in April 1996. In 2007 the Guide Dog Appeal had a name change and became the Red Puppy Appeal.

In 2008 a new purpose-built breeding centre was completed in 2008. The breeding centre includes CCTV-monitored whelping rooms, under-floor heating, vet room, tour room and accessible doggie-bathroom for our expectant and new mums. The facility means the staff at Guide Dogs can better focus on breeding dogs of high quality with the potential of becoming a working guide dog.

Blind Foundation Guide Dogs National Manager Paul Metcalf, who was first elected to the board of the IGDF in 2012 (taking up the position of Vice Chair in 2014), was re-elected in 2016 and became Chair. This is the first time New Zealand has had a representative on the board, and this has helped cement Blind Foundation Guide Dogs’ place in the international arena.

Today we currently have 57 full and part-time staff and over 200 working guide dog teams. We have approximately 350 volunteers, which include our puppy walkers, boarders and breeding stock guardians, and on-site volunteers.

Catch the summer edition of Outlook magazine on 27 March for a more detailed history of Guide Dogs accompanied with some great photos thanks to Blind Foundation Archives.

Fiona Notton with Mick Fleetwood

Meet Fiona Notton, Adoption Coordinator and Senior Administrator at Guide Dogs.

In her role, Fiona’s job encompasses ‘finding forever’ homes for dogs that don’t have the requirements to work with blind people. This may be in another service, or a “Buddy” or pet home. Fiona visits homes to check they meet the criteria and follows up to make sure everything is working out. She also helps organise sponsor visits, arranges for dogs to attend events or be available for photo shoots as well as takes sponsor tours. Fiona also assists Paul Metcalf, blind Foundation Guide Dogs National Manager in a Personal Assistant capacity.

Having a role that covers such a wide range of tasks, Fiona’s days are always different.   “I can be out placing a dog, taking a tour, on the phone talking to people about potential homes for dogs or catching up on paperwork or emails,” says Fiona.

Having been a part of the Blind Foundation for almost 11 years Fiona’s highlights range from successfully placing “career change” dogs to having the opportunity to talk to sponsors and donors about the wonderful service Blind Foundation Guide Dogs provide.

Fiona will be joining over 1000 other New Zealanders this March for the Annual Red Puppy street appeal. You too can be a part of raising vital funds so the team at Blind Foundation Guide Dogs can continue the life changing work they do.

If you can spare a couple hours on Friday 24 or Saturday 25 March then please sign up to collect today.

Stevi Irvine and guide dog Halo

Meet Blind Foundation client Stevi Irvine who has been involved with the Blind Foundation since she was six months old.

Stevi is from mystical Matamata in the Waikato region, home to the set of Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit.

She is currently in her second year at university where she is studying child psychology, which she describes as challenging but extremely interesting.

When not studying, Stevi enjoys photography, music and spending time with friends.

Stevi is a youth leader for the Blind Foundation and attended the Taupo Summer Camp, along with nine other young adult leaders, earlier this year. She also regularly collects for Blind Foundation street appeals such as Red Puppy Appeal which she will be attending this year along with her guide dog Halo.

Stevi’s partnership with Halo began almost a year ago and Stevi says that having Halo has totally changed her outlook on life.

“Halo has given me independence and confidence which I am so grateful for, because of Halo I am very much looking forward to the future. Halo comes with me everywhere.  She comes shopping, to the gym, we even walk up a local mountain together. Nothing seems to faze her, she’s always ready and waiting for the next adventure,” says Stevi.

There are many others who are still waiting for their Halo, so if you haven’t already, sign up to collect or coordinate during this years Red Puppy Appeal.

Guide dog puppy in training Brooke in her red coat

  • 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.
  • We also breed a small number of German Shepherds & Standard Poodles. The interesting thing about Standard Poodles is they may be used in a home where someone is allergic to dog hair.
  • Each litter is named after a letter from the alphabet and each litter follows in alphabetical order.
  • It takes about 18-20 months to train a guide dog from birth. At nine weeks each puppy is placed with a wonderful volunteer puppy walker.  Their role is to help the pup develop confidence and introduces them to situations they might face as a guide dog. After around 12 months they return to the guide dog centre for six months of intensive training and assessment.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Our puppies on the puppy development programme, our dogs in training and our breeding stock and pups in the breeding centre eat up to three tonnes of premium dog food per month!
  • We operate every day of every year as our dogs and pups need constant care and attention.
  • Guide dogs at different stages wear different coats and equipment. Guide dog puppies in training, stud dogs and brood bitches are often identified by their red coat. Working guide dogs can be recognized by their harnesses and golden medallions.  All of our Handlers also carry an official ‘passport’.
  • 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 Walker.  Sometimes they go to a new family.
Brooke looking up into the camera

I recently had my assessment walk, considering I’ve been walking around on these long lanky legs for 19 weeks now I feel it went pretty well.

Next up in my guide dog puppy to do list is being exposed to busier malls and business areas, it doesn’t get much busier than the comms office when I’m around, with the flow of visitors in and out so I’m looking forward to seeing how that goes.

There will also come a time in the near future when I will have to go and stay somewhere else for a while to test my adaptability. I’m putting my request in for the Langham or the Hilton, either would do, I’m not fussy.

I’m looking forward to Red Puppy Appeal next week, I’ll be out there with my puppy walker impressing the crowds with my excellent behaviour, I might see you there!

Guide dog puppy Brooke sitting at a cafe

I’ve recently celebrated a milestone, 18 weeks old, that makes me two in dog years. I am told that with age comes wisdom and I feel myself becoming wiser with each new skill I learn. Apparently I’ll be a teenager in no time at all. Time goes fast when you’re a dog.

Over the last week, I have continued to improve my public transport etiquette as well as my general social behaviour. While my knowledge of the world around me continues to grow I am now very aware of my surroundings at all times and am curious to know more about everything I encounter.

I have also come across a few working guide dogs who have been visiting Blind Foundation Awhina house office recently. I have to listen very carefully to my puppy walker when they are around and remember to save the play for the free run so not to distract these friends while they’re working.

Guide dog puppy Brooke running with her yellow ball in her mouth.

I’ve learnt a lot this week.

My biggest achievement has been learning to walk up and down stairs. It may sound simple to most, but let me tell you, coordinating these four lanky limbs is easier said than done. I’ve been figuring out the easiest way to walk up, and it turns out backwards isn’t it, nor is it going through the legs of a human. I’m learning that correct pace and position next to people are positive!

One step that I haven’t conquered just yet is the big step onto the bus. I’m too short to step up myself, but once I’m on, I’m really good at walking down the aisle and finding a seat. Then, as usual, I take my opportunity for a power nap. It’s not as peaceful as I’d like as I tend to slide around a bit, but I’m not going to let that get in the way of my snooze.

I’m also beginning to understand that when I’ve got my coat on, it’s business time. Although I sometimes get distracted, I know that I’ve got a job to do and I get to play when I’m at home so I don’t mind.

I’m going to busier and busier places and my next stop is the centre of Auckland town. I’m sure that I’ll do great if I can stay focused, I know there will be lots to see I just hope I don’t fall asleep and miss it!