I’m Wendy a specialist therapy dog trainer. My dream is to help Kiwis living with disabilities, mental health challenges and other conditions, receive some extra love and support from a therapy dog.
I’ve always been passionate about training dogs and my journey began over 32 years ago. I joined Guide Dogs New Zealand and became their Breeding Manager and a Guide dog trainer.
My passion for helping others moved me into a specialist Funding Manager role with the Blind Foundation. Then more recently, I joined Assistance Dogs New Zealand (ADNZ) as a trainer and their National Funding Manager, which gave me the opportunity to work alongside families with kids with disabilities, typically ASD and to share stories of the work of ADNZ around New Zealand.
Throughout this journey, I have also enjoyed working as a volunteer puppy raiser to help raise future service dogs for Assistance Dogs New Zealand and Guide Dogs New Zealand.
Over the years, I’ve witnessed many adults and children with a range of disabilites, live their best life through the support of service dogs.
What I Realised
I was amazed at the bond, companionship and friendship that develops between the client and their service dog. This bond empowers the client with the confidence to be independent and experience equal opportunities in life.
However, many children and their families don’t require the task-specific expertise of a fully trained assistance dog and I realised that therapy dogs could help.
For example, their child may have high-functioning autism (ASD) and may be able to self-manage some autistic-like symptoms, but may still need support in social situations or to aid restful sleep. Some children may require emotional support to help with the anxiety or a lack of confidence at school. Others struggle with interacting with their peers in general social settings, needing reassurance and support without fear of judgement for being different. These needs can be meet with a therapy dog.