The Herald is profiling 12 charities awarded $8333 grants from Auckland Airport's 12 Days of Christmas programme – now in its 13th year. The $100,000 funding comes from generous travellers who donate money at the airport.
Richard may be a scruffy mongrel with ears too big for his face but, when he fixes you with his eager eyes, you can't help but fall in love.
Found abandoned in a box on a Henderson roadside, skinny and covered in mange, Richard and his sister Karen Carpenter have been fostered by Auckland Puppy Rescue while their "forever homes" are being sought.
Adoption co-ordinator Suzie Jones has spent the last three weeks nursing Richard back to health. The mange is clearing up thanks to improved diet and immunity.
She takes him with her to the office each day at Jacobsen Tredsafe in Glendene, where he's completing his toilet training.
"He's had the odd accident but luckily on the lino, where it's been easy to clean up. I'm just really grateful to my boss," says Jones, who has fostered more than 160 puppies for the charity.
Auckland Puppy Rescue takes about 250 unwanted or maltreated puppies and dogs a year from around the upper North Island.
The canines are fostered while the service looks for the best home. During the adoption process they are de-sexed, vaccinated and microchipped.
Not just anyone can adopt from Auckland Puppy Rescue.
"We visit every prospective parent to check their property, history with animals, lifestyle and ages of any children and find the best possible match for each puppy's temperament and needs," says Jones, who had 1000 inquiries during lockdown from people wanting to adopt.
Would-be adopters who pass the application process then have a "meet and greet' session to see if they feel a connection with the puppy, followed by a seven-day trial.
The charity charges an adoption fee, which covers only some of the vet's costs.
They rely on donations to cover the rest and any puppies with health or behaviour problems.
"This grant from Auckland Airport has been huge in a year of Covid, when we haven't been able to do much fundraising. We thought we'd have fewer puppies through lockdown but there were heaps of litters. It's down to people not de-sexing their dogs. We have so many backyard breeders and that's what we're seeing dumped – your staffies, your bully breeds. We need to improve New Zealand's animal laws to ensure all family pets are desexed."
The charity is now looking for more foster carers prepared to take puppies for a minimum of 10 days.
"There's a lot of hard work to it. We've got firemen and policemen who foster. Older people are great; my 82-year-old godmother fosters and she's awesome."
Dog training experience is important.
"Love and cuddles are great but you need to give them the basic training. Richard already knows how to sit and wait for his food. He's getting there. He's a good dog."
At the time of writing, both Richard and Karen had passed their "meet and greet" sessions and moved on to the trial stage with their potential adoptive families.