Meet Denise Ireland, Guide Dog Development Manager from Guide Dogs.

Denise manages the Guide Dog Development team, which includes people and dogs. Their goal is to ensure that the puppies have every chance of success to go on to become guide dogs.

“The Guide Dog Development team receives puppies from nine weeks of age and they stay with us till they are around 20 months old. At which time they qualify as a safe and efficient guide and are matched to their client,” says Denise.

A teaching element is another part of her role, of both staff and dogs, which makes it varied and challenging. They go to different locations around Auckland to assess and train guide dogs.

Denise has been working at the Blind Foundation since 1992. When asked what her highlights were, she says she doesn’t know where to begin!

One highlight Denise recalls was a few years ago, when a guide dog in training was unresponsive to her cadet trainer.

“This was something new for the cadet and she felt like she had done something wrong. She decided to take the dog into her home and played lots of interactive toy games until she found a game that it liked. The cadet worked hard to build up a relationship with the dog, and I could see the dog’s ability to train improve.”

In the end Denise says that the dog’s attitude to her work was one of the best she’d seen.

“To watch them both grow was very rewarding. Better still the dog went on to work with a new applicant in the South Island, and the client is always talking about how this four legged girl has changed his life for the better!”

Outside of work you can find Denise in her lifestyle block with her husband and two boys, birds, sheep, goats, cats, chickens, ducks and a lizard!