Ian Styles does not need sight to know the devotion in the eyes of his new guide dog Ivy.

The 2-year-old black labrador has been just a few days into their pairing and is there for the Whangamatā man every step of the day.

Due to Covid-19, it was a long wait with lots of postponements and disruption for Ian to receive his new girl - guide dog number four.

Ian says it was worth the wait.


"If I get up, she's right beside me.

"We're getting used to each other and she's getting better and better, but she's come from a big city to a small town. She's wrecked a few garden gnomes in the backyard."

Ivy was supposed to have arrived the week that the country went into level 4 lockdown.

It meant Ian got to spend more than two months longer than planned with his 10-year-old previous companion Irish.

Irish left on Friday.

To Ian's joy, Irish has returned to the puppy trainer who raised him, and Ian has been promised he'll be given updates on how Irish is doing.

"It's hard, it gets harder and harder," he says of saying goodbye to each dog.

His first dog Carl was retired at age 12 and Ian has kept the red mat Carl was put down on.


Ian is a phenomenal supporter of the Foundation for the Blind's guide dog appeal and together with the generous people in his community he has raised at least $5000 for the cause in more than 23 collections. His next collection will be in October.

"Ian has collected for our Red Puppy Appeal street collection in Whangamata for 24 years," says Blind-Low Vision NZ community and events manager Chris Harris.

Having a guide dog himself, he knows the difference they can make in people's lives. He says they are just one of the ways Blind Low Vision NZ empowers freedom, confidence and independence for people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision.

"Ian has done so much for our community and we are so grateful to him and all our volunteers."