A doggy day care with a difference is opening up in New Plymouth next week.
The profits from Doggy Daycare will help make a difference to the lives of many New Zealanders, says Clare McLaughlin.
McLaughlin is the general manager of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People New Zealand, the charity the new day care will support.
"It is being run by our qualified hearing dog trainers alongside our dedicated volunteers and all money it makes will go straight back into funding the work we do."
That work is vital to the wellbeing of many deaf and hard of hearing New Zealanders, she says.
"We provide and train specially selected dogs, before placing them with deaf and severely hearing-impaired New Zealanders."
Having a hearing dog is "life changing", says McLaughlin.
"So many people, once we place a dog with them, come back and say they wish they had done it years ago. It really is absolutely life changing."
Hearing dogs do three equally important things, she says.
"They alert their owners to sounds in the home, such as a doorbell or knock at the door. Then they also help raising awareness that their owner is deaf. if they are out in public, you can't see a person's hearing aids, but you can see their dog, which is wearing a special jacket identifying it as a hearing dog, so that helps people be aware of the need to clearly communicate. Finally of course, and just as important as the other two things, is our dogs provided much needed companionship. Being deaf can be isolating, and a hearing dog is a great companion who gives unconditional love 24/7."
Since 1998 the charity has trained and placed 150 dogs, somethng that isn't cheap, says McLaughlin.
"We need to fundraise to be able to continue training and placing these wonderful dogs, and have decided to use the resources we have to open up Doggy Daycare as a way to do that, while also helping out other dog owners."
Doggy Daycare will be open on Wednesdays, and for $25 a day, dog owners can drop off their beloved pooch for a day of fun, play and socialistation with other dogs, says McLaughlin. The sessions are fully supervised by Hearing Dogs NZ qualified dog trainers and there are plenty of volunteers as well to make sure all dogs get plenty of attention, cuddles and fun.
"Obviously we have clear registration rules, dogs need to be vaccinated, in good health and everything, and we also have a size limit, this day cares for all dogs knee height and smaller to ensure they can play together safely and well."
Many dog owners spent a lot more time than normal with their pets during the Covid lockdown, says McLaughlin, and their dogs are missing that as people have returned to work.
"We find most people do lots with their doigs on the weekend, but during the week they are out of the house more and the dogs can get a bit bored. That's why we chose Wednesday as it is the middle of the working week, so will break up the week for the dogs, and give them a great day out while their owners work or do other things."
The daycare is in the Hearing Dogs NZ training facility just south of New Plymouth.
"We have a great team of volunteers who have put in lots of time and effort to get it all ready, as well as fantastic support from local businesses who have helped with everything from carpet to bedding."
Animates has donated pet bedding and dog toys she says, and the freshly laid carpet has been gifted by New Plymouth Carpet Wholesale.
The opening day is July 8, and the team plan some Facebook promotions before the opening.
"We will be offering a book one session, get one free sort of deal for the first few sign ups, and encourage people to come and have a look. We think once you have taken your dog here once, you and they will want to come back again and again."