Who we are
Assistance dogs have been helping people with physical disabilities for over 30 years internationally. The Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust (Mobility Dogs) is a registered charitable trust, established in 2003, with an appointed Board of Trustees. You can read more about the Board of Trustees here.
The MISSION of the Trust is to enhance the lives of people living with physical disabilities increasing independence, confidence, self-esteem and participation in New Zealand communities.
The Trust's first Mobility Dogs working team graduated at the end of 2005; as at October 2012 over 35 Mobility Dogs have been placed Meet some of our working teams here. Mobility Dogs continually operates a Canine Development Programme. The number of dogs able to be trained is directly related to the funds and resources available. We also have four 'Ambassador and Ambassadog' teams working to promote the organisation; our ambassadogs are Mobility Dogs that for various reasons were deemed unsuitable for work as full service dogs.
Meet our team
Jody Hogan - General Manager
I was first made aware of the work of Mobility Dogs when my daughter Amy received her dog Bonnie in 2008 and I joined the Trust soon after as the Funds and Grants Coordinator. Over time the role developed into managing Key Relationships, and when our General Manager Suzanne Crowther moved onto the Board of Trustees I was delighted to accept the role as General Manager. I have a long held interest in disability issues and I have framed my academic work (Biological/Social Anthropology and Social Science for Public Health) to explore many aspects of disability. Interestingly, as it has turned out, I was also incorporating aspects of incarceration and prison systems into my study. It seems like a natural extension to be working for Mobility Dogs - bringing together both my interest in disability, on a theoretical level and now, working with people whose reality is the lived experience of disability.
The Puppies in Prisons (PIP) programme is another aspect of Mobility Dogs that I find particularly interesting and challenging. For the Trust it is about getting more dogs out into the community, but it is more than that, we are giving the prisoners the chance to serve the very community they have offended against. The programme intuitively makes sense, and for me it is very rewarding to see the impact these dogs are having on the prisoners’ lives. We are shortly launching a new programme at Springhill Prison which will be modelled on our existing prison programme at Wiri. Dogs changing lives from the inside out.
Mobility Dogs would not be in the strong position it is today without the collaborative efforts of staff, volunteers, supporters, friends, fans and funders. In my role as General Manager I am reminded daily of their commitment, dedication and immeasurable contribution they make to the Trust.
My interests outside of the Trust are simple and I am privileged to enjoy: spending time with my family, many children and grandchildren, my friends, to read, exercise daily, fine food, wine and to see the sunrise every morning over Rangitoto.
Helen Spence - Development Manager
With little canine experience my family and I were first introduced to Mobility Dogs in 2006 as puppy-raisers; literally a 'chance meeting' in the street with Mobility Dogs looking for a puppy-raiser for golden retriever Chance! It was very much a case of our being trained to train a dog. Over the following 18 months, alongside my puppy-raising efforts, I worked increasingly as a volunteer for the organisation. I have been formally employed by the Trust since March 2008.
With a background in Psychology BSc(Hons) and Market Research I primarily focus on raising awareness of the Trust and growing the Mobility Dogs community. I develop relationships with charity partners and promotional material. I maintain this website, manage social media and have edited the quarterly 'unleashing life!' (formerly 'Wags') newsletter since November 2007. For over four years Ambassadog Chance & I have spoken to many clubs, schools and business organisations. Chance lives with his own physical disability which ruled him out of a career as a full service dog; he has had two major surgeries on his left front leg to corrrect a growth deformity.
As of 1 February 2012 I am in enrolled as a postgraduate student at the University of Auckland. My proposed research will consider Mobility Dogs in support of people living with movement disorders including Parkinson's disease. You can read more about this here. I will continue to work for the Trust on a part-time basis.
My enthusiasm for Mobility Dogs comes not so much from a love of dogs but from witnessing first hand the tremendous difference a Mobility Dog makes to the life of a person living with long term physical disability. I am determined that the physically disabled community of New Zealand continue to benefit from this service. email@example.com
Michelle Smith - Client Services Coordinator
I have been involved with Mobility Dogs as a ‘recipient’ since 2003 when I first contacted the Trust to express my interest in receiving an assistance dog. I was finally matched with Amber (a beautiful German Shepherd) in October 2006 and we have been a working team ever since – I suppose you could call us the ‘Oldies’ of Mobility Dogs as we are the longest running team on the books! Since my first contact I have helped the Trust out when/where I could on a voluntary basis, but have mostly been involved in helping to run the annual Golf Day, and giving presentations within my local community.
Prior to joining the Mobility Dogs team as an employee, I completed my PhD in Medieval Scottish History at the University of Auckland having received a University Doctoral Scholarship, and have been working as a historian/researcher at the Papakura Museum (Amber and I are still working there 2 days a week) for the last 2 years. Before my life as a full-time doctoral student, I was a part-time Honours Student in history while working for CCS DisabilityAction, and prior to that I worked for the Muscular Dystrophy Association as their national Educator for 4 years. I have served, and continue to serve, on panels/focus groups and am involved in a number of organisations, societies and associations that reflect what is important to me regarding both disability issues and historical studies.
Focusing on the positives is a priority in my own life and I see having a Mobility Dog as a part of that life-plan. Always fiercely independent, I actually queried my ‘need’ for an assistance dog when I was finally matched with Amber, but have realised that she only increases my independence both at home and in public in a variety of ways that I never thought possible. As a first point of contact with the Trust for many of you, I look forward to being part of your Mobility Dog journey, and am only too happy to share my experiences as a recipient with you – please feel free to ask! firstname.lastname@example.org
Pam Houston - Manager of Canine Programmes
My career in the Assistance Dog Industry began almost 17 years ago, in January 1995. I initially joined PADS-Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (a Western Canadian charity) as a volunteer, and over the years, have puppy raised 5 dogs and have had countless others pass through my leash and my home. Volunteering for 9 years before becoming a staff member has given me a comprehensive background in every aspect of how an assistance dog organization works, from the bottom up: from grant writing to gardening, kennel management to volunteer management and every administrative and operational job in between.
My focus on all the elements involved the breeding, raising, training, placement and support of assistance dogs teams began formally in November 2004, when I was hired by PADS to become an ADI (Assistance Dog International) Apprentice Instructor.
My apprenticeship took me on a 3-year journey through every detail of creating both a sound assistance dog and a successful team partnership with a client. Through that time, I made many valuable contacts, and was able to hone my craft in a supportive team environment. To date, I have trained more than 70 PADS dogs, and am ranked as 1 of only 52 ADI Certified Assistance Dog Instructors world-wide. I have been fortunate to have a job and work environment that encourages the sharing of knowledge and fosters the pursuit of advanced education to meet ever increasing demands to produce quality dogs.
In coming to New Zealand in August of 2012, I am hoping to parlay my knowledge base and experience into this dynamic team at Mobility Dogs. I am delighted to have found such a great team of Trustees, Staff and Supporters to work beside. As Manager of Canine Programmes, I am very much looking forward to advancing the goals of the Trust and the ANZAD region of ADI as a whole.
Natalie Ramm - Senior Canine Coordinator
Grant Reid - Southern Lakes District Coordinator - & Judy Reid - Puppy Development Liaison
Grant and Judy Reid live in Arrowtown and are responsible for the Mobility Dogs Southern Lakes District puppy-raising club. Typically there are 4- 5 puppies being raised by families in this district. Both Judy and Grant come from a background of teaching; Judy as an English instructor and Grant as a university lecturer. Their canine experience started in Colorado back in the year 2000, raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. After relocating to New Zealand in 2007, they became involved with the Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust, raising puppies and organising local public relations events. Grant has completed a certificate as a Service Dog Instructor from the Bergin University of Canine Studies in California.
© Copyright 2008 | Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust | Registered Charitable Trust CC24410 | New Zealand