Introducing our Board of Trustees
As a lifelong dog lover I was excited about the opportunity to become a trustee of Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust in September 2012. I have a particular interest in the professional training of dogs and their interaction with people who require assistance.
After leaving school I gained a Bachelor of Science in Psychology at the University of Auckland before travelling and working in London, Melbourne and Amsterdam in various marketing roles before returning to New Zealand in 2004. I have fifteen years experience in marketing and communications over a range of industries both locally and globally. Companies I have worked for include Belkin, Microsoft, Macmillan Publishers, Nice & Natural and Earthwise. I have also enjoyed working with a large number of successful start-up businesses through my marketing consultancy business, Chameleon Marketing & Communications, and while working as an advisor to business incubators The Icehouse and Massey University’s e-centre. I am currently studying for a Postgraduate Diploma in Business at the University of Auckland Business School and will complete the course at the end of 2012.
I adopted Prudy, a Labrador Retriever in 2009 from the Guide Dog service after she was withdrawn from training at 18 months old. Prudy is with me nearly all of the time, coming to the office with me every day, and I could not imagine my life without her by my side.
A Mobility Dog can offer people with physical disabilities not only security and independence, but also companionship and a feeling of connectedness to the world. I look forward to being part of the MADT team and assisting the organisation to grow to become a significant brand name in the not-for-profit sector.
After completing high school I commenced a Bachelor of Science degree at Waikato University, however this was interrupted in 1992 when I was involved in a car accident & suffered a serious spinal injury.
I subsequently commenced an extensive physiotherapy programme, whilst completing my Bachelors degree part-time. I was keen to take on some volunteer work so then trained to become an interviewer at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and was lucky enough to serve at the Onehunga CAB. I left the CAB to pursue my Masters in Applied Science at Auckland University of Technology, during which, through my thesis, I was involved with the development of a light operated mouse & keyboard (LOMAK), designed to assist those physically disabled who had trouble accessing a keyboard & mouse. I was, however, forced to discontinue this when I developed Central Pain Syndrome.
My family & I have always had a passion for dogs, however it wasn’t until after my accident when I was living alone in my own home and I adopted a Stafford Terrier cross from the SPCA that I fully recognised the close one-on-one relationship, and the security & comfort that can arise through that, which a person with a disability can benefit from with a dog. I currently am the proud owner of a Dachshund cross.
Through my involvement with MADT I would hope to ensure the client population the Trust aims to serve is being well represented. I would attempt to be a voice around any disability issues that arise by providing a first-hand perspective of what it means to be disabled. I believe my personal experiences can assist the Trust by enabling me to advocate on behalf of people with disabilities and to promote the various opinions this community may have. This in turn should bring about greater awareness and enable the organisation to fine tune the services it offers to our Mobility Dog recipients.
John Peebles (Chair)
With over 35 years experience in executive search recruitment, appointing corporate directors, chief executive and senior executives I have been involved in assisting numerous boards and organisations. Having held numerous board appointments myself including roles on the Broadcasting Corporation of New Zealand Board, Chair of Davies Foods (New Zealand’s major popcorn producer), Chairman of the Auckland Philharmonia and Chairman of the Auckland Opera Studio, my role as the Chairman of this Board of Trustees is the most rewarding role I have experienced. Since being invited on to the Board by founder Bradley Mark I have seen the Trust grow from strength to strength, and as the Chairman am very proud of the direction the Trust is heading, particularly in the quality of its output.
This is solely due to the talent and commitment of the Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust staff and volunteers, and the high standards they demand of themselves and dogs.
An avid lover of goldens, my wife Gillian and I have nine year old Polly, our house dog, and 22 month old Hugo, who is an Ambassadog for the Trust and beginning to appear in demonstration and promotional roles. My two daughters both have dogs and between us we have been the owners of nine goldens over the years as well as assisting in puppy-raising babysitting of others in the programme including Dougal, Ezra and Friend.
My future thoughts are that this young organisation will become the most significant service dog organisation in New Zealand over the next 20 years. My focus as Chairman is to provide the foundations that will lead to that objective. The focus in the past 12 months has been on facilities, and strengthening process and quality. Our attention is now turning to the significant long term funding that is required to ensure this Trust’s stability and growth.
After recently completing a doctorate in Corporate Governance I have decided to continue my studies and I am currently enrolled in a Diploma of Canine Behaviour in the United Kingdom to provide that type of qualification in the Board forum.
I am a lawyer by profession with a family of four children and many grandchildren - so I count myself a lucky man. I am also privileged to be a trustee of Mobility Dogs, which I joined in September 2009. In addition to my legal practice I have given, and in some cases continue to give, my time to a number of charitable trusts involved in education, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, the restoration and conservation of St Patrick’s Cathedral and others besides. So I am no stranger to the workings of charitable trusts like Mobility Dogs.
For me Mobility Dogs is not about dogs – it is about people who are living with physical disabilities and working to give them some freedom and independence with which to enjoy and enrich their lives. A mobility dog is a means of doing this. I am excited by the challenges which confront the Trust. To achieve its objectives and be sustainable the trustees need to focus on bringing together good people, long term sustainable resources for training and partnering mobility dogs with their recipients and putting in place a capital fund which will provide secure and regular income to fund the day to day operational and overhead cost of the Trust.
On the first - people – the Trust is blessed with the likes of
As we look to partner mobility dogs to recipients, the trustees are looking for people and organisations who want to be partners with us and help us to achieve financial freedom to deliver mobility dogs to recipients. Finding such partners for the Trust will be a major focus of the trustees this year. If you or your friends have any ideas or can help us establish such a partnership, please let us know.
Having trained as a Veterinarian and working as a Small Animal Clinician I was excited to become a Trustee of Mobility Dogs in July 2010. I found the support, energy, expertise and commitment of the team critical in my settling into a position where I am involved in kennel and canine related operations.
I am privileged to have adopted Elsa as an ambassadog for the Trust. Elsa was in partnership with Matthew Hinde, who had muscular dystrophy and sadly died in October 2010. I am very cognisant of the responsibility this brings both in serving Matthew’s memory and in representing and raising awareness for Mobility Dogs.
Subsequent to this, and seeing some of our partnerships, I began to really appreciate the power of partnering mobility dogs with recipients and the enrichment that these relationships have on both of their lives (as well as those around them).
I have also gained an awareness into the complexities of the process that results in a successful partnership. In brief:
This, as I am realising with Elsa, may take up to a year (even though the benefits are immediately tangible), and is an ongoing, evolving and very rewarding process.
And of course we couldn’t achieve this without the hard work of our very small team who, amongst many other things, fundraise and raise awareness for Mobility Dogs tirelessly, and are actively involved with our recipients from the application process throughout their partnership and beyond.
She brought a background of some 20 years within the building industry in various roles. She commenced her career as an accountant after completing the
Suzanne is presently Head of People at Westpac.
I graduated as a physiotherapist from AIT and initially worked in the US in a trauma hospital in Detroit. I returned to Auckland in 1995 and have been working in neurological rehabilitation since this time. I completed a Masters of Health Science at AUT University in 1999 and a PhD at the University of Auckland in 2009, maintaining at least some clinical work while studying. Currently I work as a physiotherapist and am also the director of Neuro Rehab Results, a private clinic that specialises in rehabilitation for individuals with neurological impairments. I am passionate about continuing to work clinically towards improved health outcomes for patients, which drives the focus of my research at AUT University, where I work half time as a senior researcher and lecturer. I am also involved in the organisation of the Neuro Rehab Education Group, teaching on a number of clinical courses for therapists.
Although my family had a couple of dogs when I was growing up, I have learnt a lot more about dogs since becoming involved with Mobility Dogs. However I readily acknowledge that I am far from an expert in this area, but help assess applicants’ needs so that training of the dogs can be trained more specifically for individual applicants. This part of the application process is called the functional assessment and takes place generally at the Neuro Rehab Results clinic.
During the assessment, I (or another therapist) briefly ask about your medical and social history and then we ask in more detail about your function – what you can do and what you find difficult to do. We then do some basic tests to measure your arm strength, range and your ability to do some functional tasks with your arms (like reaching and picking up objects). We also measure your sitting balance and if it is appropriate we look at your transfers and/or walking. Together we discuss what tasks the dog might be able to help you with and identify if there are any particular recommendations that will help the canine team identify and advance train a dog suitable for you.
In my spare time, I like to kitesurf, kayak and have recently begun making soft cheeses.
Posted: Thu 08 Nov 2012
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