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Volunteer for Red Puppy Appeal and support life-changing guide dogs

Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs (formerly Blind Foundation) is seeking volunteers for its Red Puppy Appeal street collection on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 March 2020.

Guide dogs help people who are blind or have low vision retain their freedom and independence to move around safely and confidently. Highly valued for the positive and liberating change they bring to a person’s life, guide dogs have important roles. Charged with making what could potentially be life or death decisions on behalf of a person, they have to learn some smart and sophisticated skills.

Ian Styles, 75, from Whangamata, is a Red Puppy Appeal coordinator. He has been volunteering for the cause for the past 24 years, and has personally been supported by three different guide dogs over the years.

“Having guide dogs has changed my life. Before I had them, I would ask someone to take me around, but now I can do my own thing. Irish, my current guide dog, knows where all the regular shops I go to are.”

Not only have guide dogs supported Styles’ independence; they have also been a lifeline. Styles remembers waiting at a crossing and a pedestrian told him it was clear to cross. He gave the command to his guide dog Hindi to cross, and Hindi refused to move. He then heard a car speed past him, which he estimates was going 100kmp/h.

“When we got across the road, I knelt down and said to Hindi ‘you saved my life’.”

Styles is well known in the community as people see him out and about walking with his guide dog – he estimates he walks about five kilometres a day. During the Red Puppy Appeal street collection, you will find him outside the Lotto shop and the local New World supermarket shaking a bucket for a cause which is close to his heart.

Blind Low Vision NZ breeds and trains about 100 puppies per year, and only the best graduate as guide dogs. As New Zealand’s only guide dog service, it is 100% funded by public donations and it is with thanks to the generosity and support of Kiwis that Blind Low Vision NZ can provide guide dogs to people who need them.

John Mulka, Blind Low Vision NZ Chief Executive, said: “We are incredibly grateful to everyone who supports our Red Puppy Appeal. It’s also a good opportunity for people to learn more about guide dogs, the special permission they have to access most places, and most importantly the life-changing role they play for people who are blind or have low vision.” 

If you can spare a few hours to help support the next generation of guide dogs, register online or call 0800 787 743 (0800 PUPPIES).

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