Operating from unassuming premises in Henderson is an organisation that transforms the lives of Kiwis living with disabilities. Mobility Dogs’ specially trained canines provide practical help and companionship so that more disabled people can live independently.
Mobility Dogs’ marketing manager Penny White advises that up to 24% of New Zealand’s population live with some form of long-lasting physical impairment. Mobility dogs are trained to help people with everyday tasks. These special dogs are a lifeline for many, from retrieving and carrying items to opening doors and helping with dressing.
Perhaps most important of all, they also offer companionship and emotional support. ‘Disabled people can sometimes be isolated,’ says Penny. She advises that Mobility Dogs provide unconditional love, positively impacting people’s self-esteem and confidence.
‘Our dogs are a great icebreaker,’ Penny reports. She adds that conversations are sparked when out and about in the community, improving disabled people’s sense of connection and helping them to make new friends.
Mobility Dogs has many heart-warming stories of the impact their work has. Linda-Lee’s story is just one. She has arthrogryposis, a condition that causes stiffness in the joints. Everyday tasks like walking and going up and down stairs are challenging for Linda-Lee. However, the arrival of Golden Retriever Darby has transformed her life.
‘My old confidence has returned. I can do things I haven't been able to in such a long time,’ declares Linda-Lee. ‘Darby makes me feel fiercely independent again. But more than that – he’s given me my dignity back,’ she adds.
It takes 24 months to fully train a Mobility Dog and an investment of around $50,000. Funding is an ongoing challenge for charitable organisations. However, Mobility Dogs received $4,000 from the Your West Support Fund, which has been used to pay the rental costs of their Henderson offices.
‘Funding for operational costs is hard to come by,’ says Penny. ‘We’re thrilled that the Your West Support Fund has helped ease that burden with their generous support,’ she adds.
Mobility Dogs’ office is essential to operations. It’s a space for staff, clients and puppy raisers to come together. And it’s used to store all the equipment needed for training Mobility Dogs, including harnesses, feeding bowls and food. The Collard Place premises is also the nationwide charity’s head office and administration base.
‘The support has had a real impact on the lives of physically disabled New Zealanders,’ Penny concludes.
Mobility Dogs has recently launched a new sponsor-a-puppy programme. For as little as $1 a day, you can sponsor the adorable Oskar or Rosco and receive regular updates on your puppy’s progress. And you’ll also be making a huge difference to a disabled Kiwi's life. Check out Mobility Dogs' website for more information and explore other ways to support this fantastic charity.