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Updated: Jan 31

"There are so many families like ours waiting for a special dog to help, and your donation is greatly appreciated"

This is the story of 8-year-old Indie, one of the 50+ New Zealanders on our waitlist, who are all waiting patiently for their life-changing Assistance Dogs.

Auckland-based Indie lives at home with her brother Max (6), mum JoJo, and their foster puppy Iggy. She also visits her dad Karl’s house on weekends, where their 12-year-old family dog Roxie lives.

In 2020, when she was 5 years old, Indie was diagnosed with Autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder and extreme anxiety. Due to her disabilities and health conditions, Indie struggles to navigate different environments – making it challenging for the whole family to be out in the community together.

Her mum JoJo has always known Indie was unique. When Indie was around 4 years old, JoJo saw something on Facebook about Assistance Dogs New Zealand Trust and decided to investigate further.

In July 2022, JoJo took Indie to one of ADNZT’s ‘Meet the Puppies’ events in Auckland. At the time, Indie’s anxiety was so strong, they couldn’t go anywhere unless she was in a pram with earmuffs and a blanket over her.

However, as soon as they got inside, Indie saw one of the Assistance Dogs and instantly climbed out of the pram and lay on the floor with the dog. It was in this moment that her whole energy changed.

Indie has been on ADNZT’s waitlist for a number of years now. When a family joins our waitlist, they undergo an interview and assessment to look at the child or adult’s specific needs, and how an Assistance Dog may help them.

Our dogs are tailor-trained to perform a range of tasks to meet their client’s individual needs. During formal training, our specialised Dog Trainers assess each dog’s strengths and temperament to see which client at the top of our waitlist they could be matched to. There is a lot of effort that goes into ensuring the ‘perfect’ match, and once that’s been identified and the match has been made, the impact is simply life-changing.

JoJo is hoping that Indie having an Assistance Dog will making going out in public easier for the whole family.

“Different environments can be very noisy and busy for Indie - and so having that reassurance of a dog who she can stop, stroke and cuddle when she’s overwhelmed or upset will be such an asset, and make life so much better. From a safety aspect, an Assistance Dog would be so beneficial for keeping Indie away from the road when she’s hyper or upset.”

Since Indie joined our waitlist, JoJo has met many of the ADNZT team from across the organisation. She describes the team as “absolutely amazing, wonderful people, who are so passionate about what they do”.

JoJo and her family do all they can to support Assistance Dogs New Zealand Trust, including sponsoring two puppies, volunteering at fundraising events and currently puppy raising Iggy – who will one day change the life of his future client. Although it’s highly unlikely that Iggy would matched with Indie (due to our waitlist being worked through in chronological order), Iggy’s presence has had a profound impact on Indie’s life.

"Through having Iggy as a puppy-in-training with us, I’ve noticed when we’re out and about, that Indie will often crawl under the table, lie down next to Iggy and just stroke him. "

"Recently, Indie had had a rough day at school and came home very upset. Iggy went straight over to her, licked her tears away, and then lay down on top of her - just snuggling for an hour. It really was the sweetest moment.”

Indie’s favourite thing at the moment is to snuggle up on the floor with Iggy. He’s also drawn to Indie and they spend a lot of time having gentle cuddles. JoJo has noticed whenever they are around dogs, Indie’s anxiety comes right down, and she’s a lot calmer in general.

“I really feel having an Assistance Dog will support us as a whole family and enable us to live a more varied lifestyle - making holidays, day trips and visits to local places much easier. My son is also an absolute dog lover and it will be great for him too.”

At present, Indie and the other families on our waitlist may be waiting up to 5 years for their Assistance Dog. As a team, we’re frantically trying to double our output of dogs so we may help these families sooner. However, we're limited by the funding we receive. Any support you may be able to offer us is greatly appreciated.

To those considering making a donation, Indie's mum Jojo wanted to share the following:

“To anyone considering making a donation to Assistance Dogs New Zealand Trust, I would say a huge thank you. The work these dogs, the trainers and the organisation does is absolutely amazing, and it really does change lives for the better. There are so many families like ours waiting for a special dog to help, and your donation is greatly appreciated”.

To support families like Indie's, please make a donation today. Thank you 💙



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