"She’s made an enormous difference to the everyday, and opened up our hearts and minds to what else might be possible.."
2020 - what a year! So many ups and downs. In amongst the turmoil, ADNZT called us with some amazing news - in December, COVID-19 willing, the very lovely Whitney would be matched to Hector, our awesome 9-yo son with autism and ADHD. We have been on the waiting list for 5 years. The training programme was intense, challenging and amazing all at once. Our Instructor was an absolute legend - so much knowledge of animal behaviour and service dog training, and so much experience with human behaviour and training humans to work with service dogs! We gained knowledge every day, got to try it out and practice until we got it right, always with ADNZT's love and respect. Aroha mai, aroha atu. Whitney has fit right in with our family, from that first morning when she woke up Ben and I with the sounds of her tail whacking happily into the walls in our bedroom with two toys in her mouth. She’s kind and loyal, and very relaxed, loves lying on our feet, gives lots of hugs and has picked all the best places in the house and the deck for a snooze. Hector’s little sister loves patting, feeding and generally smooching around with Whitney whenever possible. With the blue jacket, it all changes, in a great way. Whitney puts on her Game Face and gets to work. She is strong, capable and reliable. She makes everyday trips so safe and relaxed for us as parents, and when we're relaxed, our kids are so much more relaxed too. Our son has started including Whitney in his plans - I was worried the tethering would mean restriction, but the tethering actually brings freedom and independence for him and for our whole family. He is learning all sorts of cool new ways to self-manage and is planning even more adventures that involve his special dog.
There are challenges too. Whitney is such a gorgeous girl that everyone wants to be near her and pat her even with the jacket on ... so we’ve had to learn to say no and let her get on with the job. Dogs are a lot of work, sometimes waking up for a wee in the middle of the night, or up at dawn wanting to play. Whitney loves swimming in the sea for a free run, but does not love the shampoo afterwards! Our son will always have challenges unique to him, as will our whanau. Overall though, what a difference, it is hard to put into words how positive this has all been. Thank you to all the special dogs and special people who worked so hard to bring this beautiful Taonga into our lives. She’s made an enormous difference to the everyday, and opened up our hearts and minds to what else might be possible.