Pet Life Magazine, New Zealand Pet Life Magazine Issue 4 Spring 2017 - Page 5
she “knows it is a privilege not a right”.
But Alastair wouldn’t have it any other way. “She’s a velcro
dogs, she loves her cuddles. I’d hate to take that away from us.
She’s a much loved pet as well as a working dog.”
LIAM - earns an A
Liam the Labrador makes
life a whole lot richer for
young Isaac and his family.
The 8-year-old boy from
Mt Maunganui has cerebral
palsy and GDD (global
development delay). He uses
a wheelchair and a walker,
cannot speak, experiences a lot
of anxiety, and has little awareness
of his personal safety. He requires 24-hour
supervision. Enter Liam, from Assistance Dogs New Zealand.
Life is good with Liam as the minder and best friend of Isaac,
and the second “well-behaved” child of the family.
“Liam’s great,” says mum Shelley. He’s given Isaac a new lease
on life and her young son is now “super-happy” about doing
things that in the past would have freaked him out.
The family got 2-year old Liam in June this year. Top of his list
of things to do is keeping Isaac safe.
Isaac is quick to move about the house using furniture and the
walls, and has no sense of danger. Being a big, strong dog, and
tall, Liam is there to be leaned on to give Isaac stability.
“He’s been trained not to move – he’s amazing at that,” says
In the short time that Liam has been with Isaac, he has also
greatly helped the boy with his anxiety.
“Being non-verbal, Isaac’s sensory world is tenfold what we
are living with. Liam being there decreases his stress levels a
lot,” says Shelley.
“Having a bath used to turn into a screaming tantrum because
of all the sensory issues. But since Liam has been there bath
time is so much fun because he is leaning over the bath. He’s a
distraction. Everything is fun when Liam is there.”
Similarly, hospital visits were once extremely stressful for
Isaac. He’d worry, “ahhhh, what are they going to do to me”,
he didn’t like the elevator, and would usually start crying and
screaming when he saw the surgeon.
Shelley says Isaac breezed through his first hospital
appointment with Liam at his side.
“By incorporating Liam into all the scary experiences, and with
Liam coping, it distracts and helps Isaac cope, too.
“He enjoyed the appointment, which blew me away.”
* To find
New Zea t more about Ass
Liam goes to school with Isaac at Montessori@Arataki, and
a special assembly was held in the school hall in his honour
when he first arrived.
In the past, Isaac was always scared of the school hall but on
this day he sat at the front of the school assembly with his dog
and just laughed.
At the assembly, Liam showed off his tricks – high five, roll
over, and responding to hand signals that Isaac can command
him with, such as sit and lie down.
“The kids are in awe of what Liam can do,” says Shelley.
“The older Isaac has got the more isolating his condition is for
him because children can see that something is wrong with
him. But the whole school is involved in Liam. Now Isaac is
famous – the kids want to talk to him because of his dog. At the
park, the kids will come up to Isaac and talk to him about his
“It’s much richer having Liam in our lives.”
And Isaac loves Liam.
“Oh, my god, yes, without a doubt. That is his best friend. He
adores Liam. Isaac laughs and giggles at him, Liam brings him
so much fun.”
But Liam takes his job very seriously, so it’s not all fun and
When he is out and about in the community with Isaac he
wears his blue Assistance Dog jacket.
“They are different animals when they are wearing their coat
– quite serious,” says Shelley. “Isaac recognises this too and
tries to get Liam’s jacket off at school, because he is more
playful without it, and he wants to show the kids what fun Liam
For time out, Liam loves chasing a ball in the park and would
give any Grey Hound a good run for their money.
But when he’s on the job, he’s always near, “just standing there
as if to say everything is OK”.
Rush - frontline of
Catching baddies and
having the backs of your
comrade police officers is a
pretty big job for a 2-year-
old. But German Shepherd
Rush is more than up to the
task – he’s currently top dog
of the national police patrol dog
championships. Winning the 2016
title just three months after graduating
as an operational team with Waikato District Senior Constable
Blair Spalding, Rush is the youngest police dog to ever win the
At 21 months old, Rush hit the street running, says his handler,
“Usually there is a transition that dogs have to make leaving
the training environment and entering the real world. He
started catching people straight away, being a bit more
defensive, suspicious of people, rather than chasing for the
sake of it.”
Rush is a general-purpose police dog. His “bread and butter”
is track scent work, but he also recently trained in search and
rescue to give him and Blair something else to do apart from
finding bad people.
“Otherwise everyone we deal with is a bad person,” says Blair.
And that’s because Rush is the frontline of the frontline,
getting called to the pointy end of incidences, from hunting
down armed offenders to chasing after burglars who have
taken off on foot.
Police dogs respond to more than 30,000 incidents each year.