‘Our dogs provide a unique partnership,’ explains General Manager Jody Wilson. ‘And that means life-changing loyalty for many Kiwis living with disabilities,’ she says.
Mobility Dogs has many heart-warming stories of the impact mobility dogs make. Golden retriever Cooper’s special relationship with Kim is just one. Kim has mitochondrial disease, which affects her mobility.
Kim was partnered with Cooper in 2017 and he has become a firm part of the family. Cooper is trained to do many tasks, including opening and shutting doors and cupboards. He’s also been trained specially for Kim. If she falls over, Cooper allows her to use him as a brace so she can stand up again.
According to Kim, ‘Cooper offers me uncompromising companionship – because I’m home a lot. She says that the security of having him there is huge for both her and her partner. ‘He also gives me independence, and I feel like I get less depressed because of him,’ Kim reports.
Service dogs providing emotional support and practical help is just one of the programmes delivered by Mobility Dogs. The organisation also provides therapy dogs. Research shows that dogs can help reduce anxiety and stress. Therapy dogs are used in dental clinics, medical practices and drug and alcohol rehabilitation to help people cope with stress and anxiety.
Mobility Dogs also participates in an innovative Puppies in Prison programme with the Department of Corrections. The dogs help with rehabilitation by giving prisoners opportunities to learn new skills and develop meaningful relationships.
It takes 24 months to fully train a Mobility Dog and an investment of around $50,000. As a charitable trust, Mobility Dogs relies on donations and fundraising.
‘Our clients and dogs are the priority,’ explains Jody. ‘And that means there’s not much left over for things like office equipment,’ she reports.
However, thanks to the Your West Support Fund, Mobility Dogs now has a new office printer and scanner. The trust received $2,860 from the latest round of the fund.
'Already, the printer has made a huge difference,’ says Jody. She explains that Mobility Dogs uses the printer all the time to print off information booklets for clients.
‘The printer has made our lives so much easier,’ says Jody. ‘We’re really grateful for the help of The Your West Support Fund,' she concludes.
Check out the Mobility Dogs website for more information about the charitable trust’s fantastic work.
The latest round of the Your West Support Fund has provided financial assistance to 130 local charities, community groups and clubs. Find out more about how to apply here.