Who's a good dog? Look no further than these great companions.

Guide dog owners throughout the country have spoken of the difference their dogs make to urge support for the Red Puppy Appeal this weekend.

Mhairi Collins of Whangarei said she'd had her dog, Peace, for about six years.

Mrs Collins said she had loss peripheral vision and Peace helped her get around and prevent her from bumping into things or tripping on kerbs.

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Peace knows the way to banks, the hairdresser and Paper Plus. "She's been awesome. Just totally opens your world up, opens it right up. It's unbelievable."

Mrs Collins said she didn't necessarily look blind so the dog gave passrsby a heads up -- also important so people wouldn't think her careless if she bumped into them.

Neville Falconer of Tauranga said he and his nearly seven-year-old poodle Sophie were "virtually inseparable".

Neville Falconer and his guide dog Sophie at the vet. Photo: Joel Ford
Neville Falconer and his guide dog Sophie at the vet. Photo: Joel Ford

He'd had the poodle since she was two and the pair had built up a strong bond.

She came to work with him at LJ Hooker Tauranga and allowed him to go to meetings within walking distance as well as on recreational walks.

"For me, the big difference that she's made is she's given me a level of independence again."

Mr Falconer said said he and his dog both loved boating, but Sophie stayed on the shore while he went water skiing as he didn't want her being tossed around in the boat.

Owen Wilson of Hawke's Bay has had golden labrador, Gerry, for two and a half years and said it helped him take the bus and get to indoor bowls and the shops.

Napier resident Owen Wilson with his guide dog, Gerry. Hawke's Bay Today photograph by Warren Buckland
Napier resident Owen Wilson with his guide dog, Gerry. Hawke's Bay Today photograph by Warren Buckland

"I can tell him to take me to the PostShop up in Taradale and he'll find the PostShop, and two or three other shops he can find."

Mr Wilson said he'd had other guide dogs and they typically worked for eight to 10 years. It took about a year to develop trust between a client and a dog.

"You build up a terrific bond, they become part of the family, and they are your eyes."

Gerry, like his previous guide dogs, loved meeting people.

"I don't mind as long as he doesn't get distracted too much and we end up not going where we're meant to..."

Nahla is one of five guide dogs working in the Whanganui area -- but to Jill Clarke she's one of a kind. Ms Clarke has had the golden labrador retriever for three-and-a-half years.

Jill Clarke and her labrador guide dog Nahla. Wanganui Chronicle Photograph by Stuart Munro
Jill Clarke and her labrador guide dog Nahla. Wanganui Chronicle Photograph by Stuart Munro

Nahla was her first guide dog and Ms Clarke had gone through three months of lessons with a guide dog trainer from Palmerston North to learn how to work with her.

Nahla knew how to get to Ms Clarke's usual places around town as well as to her own favourite spots.

She said she was reliant on Nahla when she first got her but had experienced a bit of improvement with her vision. Nahla still came everywhere with her.

Rotorua resident John Williams' original dog, Gracie, had to be retired about a month ago when she got cancer in one of her eyes -- but he kept her as a pet.

John Williams with retired seeing eye dog Gracie (left) and current dog Omar. The Daily Post Photograph by Andrew Warner
John Williams with retired seeing eye dog Gracie (left) and current dog Omar. The Daily Post Photograph by Andrew Warner

"I've had her for quite a number of years and there's no way that I'll ever get rid of her," he said.

Gracie was still helping him out with things, even though she had retired.

Mr Williams recently received four-year-old Omar -- an experienced guide dog adjusting to his new owner.

Mr Williams said the dogs kept an eye on him around the house and were by his side whenever he got up.

"They're just absolutely marvellous. I mean, they're life changing, they really are."

The Blind Foundation has about 230 guide dogs working nationwide.

The annual Red Puppy Appeal appeal -- this year on April 1 and 2 -- raises funds for the breeding and training of guide dogs.

The foundation said guide dogs gave people who were blind or had low vision the freedom and confidence to live an independent life.

Blind Foundation spokeswoman Alison Wheatley said guide dog puppies had two years of rigorous training before graduating.

Some of this year's graduates would go to people who hadn't had a guide dog before, while others would replace retiring guide dogs.

"We don't charge people to receive a guide dog - all the costs for breeding and training are met by public donations. That's why the Red Puppy Appeal is so important," said Ms Wheatley.

Collectors will be on the streets this Friday and Saturday or people can donate online at redpuppy.org.nz or by texting PUPPIES to 305 to donate $3.