Category Archives: guide-dogs-microsite

Brooke sitting next to a Blind Week street collection bucket

I hope you have all had a good week, I know I have.

First, let me tell you about collecting for Blind Week. I loved it. It was pawesome to get out there to help raise money for the Blind Foundation, and I wasn’t complaining about the extra pats. I was on my very best behaviour. I got a bit excited when I ran into Verka, another guide dog in training, and Paula from Guide Dogs, but other than that, I was nice and calm. I made sure I was extra gentle when I met some little kids too. I even sat down when they came over to say hello. I’m used to meeting all different types of people, so I know that some need a little more patience than others.

After collecting, I went for a big walk around Albany mall. I did try and have a lie down in a shop, just to let my Puppy Walker know that I’d had enough for the day. I fell asleep as soon as I got in the car home.

I’m getting really good at ignoring food in the supermarket. I do try and drag my Puppy Walker down the dog food aisle, but I still haven’t managed to head home with an extra bag of food. You can’t blame me for trying, I am a Lab after all.

I’ve also made some new friends. I’ve been playing with Eva, who is boarding in the Fundraising team, and I met some eight month old puppies at the local park. They were mini pointer/poodles, so were much smaller than me. I did knock them off their feet a few times, but we played well together. My recall still isn’t great when there are other puppies around. I just don’t want to leave my friends.

Enjoy your week and I will be back with more updates next week.

Two puppies playing tug of war with a stick

Hello everyone, I’m back.

I’ve come home after just two weeks away. I couldn’t stand to be away from my Puppy Walker for any longer. Just kidding, the puppy development team thought I needed a bit more time for my body to settle down before doing too much else. It looks like I’ll be squeezing a few more naps in, what a shame.

My time away went well overall. I did get a bit scared around an escalator at a mall, but it’s nothing to worry about. I’m just getting used to things.

I haven’t been so happy with the Auckland weather lately. I know when it’s about to rain and if I’m out walking I pick up my lead and try and get my Puppy Walker to head for home. I don’t have much luck, but a few treats are worth a wet coat.

I’ve done a bit of desk hopping at work which I have taken in my stride. I don’t mind changing places; I just wish the heater changed with me.

I’m out and about in Mairangi Bay on Friday helping to collect for Blind Week. I’m always proud to show off my red coat, and I’m looking forward to exploring another new place. A few extra pats and treats are pretty great too.

If you haven’t already, you can support the Blind Foundation by donating here.

Catch you next week.


Puppy warming itself by the heater

I hope you’ve all stayed dry in the rainy weather. I don’t mind going out in the rain, especially when I’ve got my red coat on. I’m still not a huge fan of wet paws; I leave a trail of wet muddy paw prints wherever I sneak to in the house. I’m not usually naughty, but like any cheeky puppy, sometimes I like to push my luck.

It’s worth getting wet paws when I get to explore the garden; it’s worth it just to explore the new smells that come from under the fence. We’ve had roadworks outside our house, which means a lot of different smells and sounds.  Being the socialite that I am, I like to introduce myself to the workers. I’m jealous they get to dig holes all day, but I still think my job is better.

My discovery this week has been the blueberry bush in the backyard. I absolutely love blueberries, even if they aren’t ripe yet, and apparently, they are full of antioxidants although I have no idea what those are. I’ve eaten the ones I can reach which I think is enough. You know how us Labradors love our food.

I’ve enjoyed my time back at home, but you know me –  I’m always on the move. I’ve gone to a boarder for a few days before I head to kennels for another breeding stock assessment. My sister Beth was in the car when I was picked up so I really didn’t mind leaving again. I was so excited I didn’t even want to say goodbye to my Puppy Walker.

I’m sure I’ll come back tired after playing with my friends, but I’ll make sure to write another blog in between my naps.

Until then,


Black labrador puppy lying under a work desk

After a long time away, I’m finally back at work. I’ve missed being here.

I had an awesome time at my boarder’s, although a few days ago I had to go into kennels. I wasn’t upset in the slightest. My sister, Beth, was there so it was another chance for us to catch up and of course do what we love to do when we see each other, play. I came home absolutely exhausted.

In between my many catch up naps at home, I’ve been making sure I reacquaint myself with the outside world. I’ve been to malls, the supermarket and the butchers, as well as going on lots of different walks. I’m absolutely perfect at the supermarket, even in the dog food aisle. The butchers is a little bit harder, but I made it out without a problem; my Puppy Walker was very proud.

I’m very clever and I’ve managed to remember all of my commands from before I went away. If my walker doesn’t use hand signals, I can get a bit mixed up with the commands ‘down’ and ‘stand’. But as always, it’s a work in progress and I’m practicing every day.

Unfortunately, I’m only back for a week before I go back to kennels for another breeding stock assessment. I don’t know how long I’ll be away, but I’ll be updating you as soon as I get back.

Be good, I promise I will.

Puppy with his head stuck in a rubbish bin lid

Harris is such a lovely guide dog puppy. He seems to be doing all the right things, as well as some very funny things too – like checking out the rubbish bin at his puppy walker’s home and getting his head stuck!

He doesn’t mind his red jacket these days – it keeps him warm – and he can proudly show everyone he’s a guide dog puppy in training. He’s growing so fast he’s now up to his second red coat size!


Harris walking in the mall


Harris has had all his vaccinations now, so he’s able to go everywhere his puppy walker wants to take him.

That’s good because his puppy walker takes every opportunity to let Harris experience as much as he can.

A big achievement was walking down steps in their local cinema to show his progress.

Well done Harris!


Pupstar Harris in a winter photo frame

There have also been practice walks in the local mall, complete with lots of sounds, smells and different floor textures to help Harris learn and feel at ease in new environments.

He is settling easily in cafes and outdoor spaces and is progressing really well in his development. In fact, he has his first assessment walk soon – we’ll keep you posted on his progress.

In the meantime, find more of Harris’ adventures over on Facebook.



Chantelle sitting on the steps with guide dog Darbi

Chantelle was born with under-developed optic nerves in both eyes. Although she can see some things when objects are very close, detail is very limited when they are further away.

As you’d imagine, this made life a constant challenge. But everything took a turn for the better when she was paired with her first guide dog. “My first guide dog gave me the confidence to try things I never thought possible,” Chantelle explains. “Together we explored the city and different modes of transport, and I gained a whole new level of independence as my social circle increased.”

More recently, Chantelle was matched with her third guide dog, Darbi. “Without her I wouldn’t have the varied lifestyle I have now, working full-time and living an independent life.”

“Being able to go anywhere I like, no matter how new or challenging, with the knowledge that Darbi will help me get there confidently and safely is reassuring.”

Labrador guide dog Darbi looking proud
Chantelle’s guide dog Darbi helps her lead an independent life


As valuable as guide dogs are for people who are blind or have low vision, they’re not a solution for everything. Over time, the Blind Foundation has assisted Chantelle in many areas of her life. Our specialist Adaptive Daily Living instructors have provided her with life skills that most of us take for granted. Things like washing clothes, cleaning around the home, or cooking – one of Chantelle’s favourite pastimes.

“I have a real passion for cooking,” says Chantelle. “I love to entertain friends and family, and serve them delicious, wholesome food. I use talking scales, talking timers, and measuring cups that are easy to tell apart by touch, and I have braille labels on my herbs and spices.”

The Foundation’s Orientation & Mobility services have given Chantelle the ability to safely travel about her community.

“Earlier on, the Blind Foundation taught me white cane skills which helped me navigate my school and neighbourhood.”

This later extended to public transport, which paved the way for Chantelle’s next big step in life when she decided she was ready to join the workforce. The Blind Foundation played an important role here too.

“It was through the Foundation’s employment service that I was made aware of their Adaptive Technology course,” says Chantelle. “This opened up a new world of opportunities as I learned valuable computer and technology skills, which gave me a recognised qualification and quickly led to an employment opportunity.”

As Chantelle will tell you, the Blind Foundation’s extensive support has enabled her to lead a confident and independent life. Of course, Chantelle is just one of many hundreds of blind and low vision people that we help every day. With your kind support, we can do so much more. Will you help us?

Golden retriever dog sitting on the grass

Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a conversation with our dogs? It would be so much easier to figure out what they want, and no doubt they would have a very unique perspective on the world.

Unfortunately dogs haven’t developed the ability to speak, but they can communicate through body language and facial expressions. With a bit of know-how, it is possible to figure out what they are thinking – or at least get a rough idea.

Some dogs are easier to read then others, but if you can learn to identify when a dog is uncomfortable you catch potential problems and help your dog work through them.

Below is a set of common behaviours and what they might mean. We have this poster by Dr. Sophia Yin hung up at the breeding and training centre for easy reference. Download a copy from her website.

Body Language of Fear in Dogs

Cartoon dog slightly cowering before someones feet

Slight Cowering

Cartoon dog cowering in front of someones feet

Major Cowering

More Subtle Signs of Fear & Anxiety

Cartoon dog licking lips

Licking Lips
when no food nearby

Cartoon dog panting

when not hot or thirsty

Cartoon dog with a furrowed brow

Brow Furrowed, Ears to side

Cartoon dog walking slowly

Moving in Slow Motion
walking slow on floor

Cartoon dog yawning

Acting Sleepy or Yawning
when they shouldn’t be tired

Cartoon dog looking hypervigilant

looking in mnay directions

Cartoon dog refusing a bone

Suddenly Won’t Eat
but was hungry earlier

Cartoon dog walking away from food

Moving Away

Cartoon dog pacing


Black and yellow labradors

I haven’t stopped moving since returning home from Wellington.

Last Friday, I had another assessment walk with my brother Bronson, sister Beth, and poodle pal Debbie. Although we were all very excited to see each other, we tried our best to stay in work mode. We sat quietly in Westfield Newmarket while our puppy walkers enjoyed a coffee. We did try the stealth army crawl towards each other at one stage, but unfortunately we weren’t as sneaky as we thought we were!

I have some new friends in the office – Guide Dog Puppies King and Roxanne are coming to Awhina House while their puppy walkers are away.  Roxanne is the oldest and definitely the biggest; she’s one years old.  I’ve just celebrated my nine-month birthday and wee King is only 14-weeks!

I’ve demonstrated proper free-run behaviours before playing with them; I want to be a good role model for King and show off my skills to Roxanne.  When we’re finally free to play however, our manners tend to go out the window.  King and I are just across the office from each other so we chat a lot; we have to keep pup-dated with all the doggy gossip.  We try and save it for play time, but it’s pretty hard not to distract each other.  After a while, King ends up having a nap; he is still a baby after all.

My new experience this week was going to the BLENNZ Music School. There were lots of children and another working dog –  I was very excited but knew I couldn’t socialise because I had my red coat on. I showed off my skills, sitting quietly while the students did dance class and music practice. I hadn’t heard drums or a piano in real life before, so I learnt a lot of new sounds. I wasn’t such a fan of my puppy walker’s attempt at playing bass guitar though, I think she needs a bit more practice!

My blog will be taking a break over the next three weeks as I’ll be on holiday at a boarder’s while my puppy walker is overseas. I’ll miss her, but I’m sure I’ll have a great time with the new family. I’ll update you with all my news when I get home.

Dogs sitting under a table

Blind Foundation Guide Dogs are legally allowed to access all public spaces and buildings.  All guide dogs are given their own ID card and identification medallion so that any organisation can verify their right to enter. However they are easily recognized by their working harness and are generally welcomed wherever they go due to their excellent training and behaviour.

Guide dogs and guide dogs in training regularly accompany their handler to places like restaurants, offices, clinics, hospitals, shops, beaches, cinemas and hotels. Guide dogs are exposed to all sorts of different places during their training, so they know how to manoeuvre through crowds and sit quietly under the table at cafes.

They are allowed to travel on public vehicles including buses, domestic and international flights, ferries, ships, trains, taxis and shuttles. This is key for people who are blind, who often have to rely on public transport to get around.


Dog in harness sitting on the bus
Working dog Ernie riding the bus with his handler


Just like regular dogs, guide dogs can go off leash to play at dog parks or beaches but must be under control for regular parks, including national parks. Some of our guide dogs have even accompanied their handlers on tramps through the bush.

There are a few exceptions.  Taking a guide dog to a zoo is unacceptable because of the stress likely to be felt by both the guide dog and the other animals.  Similarly, certain wards in hospitals are inappropriate for a guide dog. It is a courtesy to clear with the Tangata Whenua for a guide dog to be present when visiting their Marae.

Otherwise, guide dogs have the right to go wherever their handler does.  These rights for working dogs are outlined in the Human Rights Act 1993 and the Dog Control Act 1996.


Dog in red coat riding a ferry
Norah, guide dog puppy in training, riding on the ferry