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Working dogs find a new, loving family

A “virtual charity” that rehomes retired working dogs has no animal shelter or office – but operates successfully using a website, social media and word-of-mouth.

Retired Working Dogs NZ [RWD] is a nationwide charitable trust, which has been rehoming working breed dogs since 2012. The charity has operated in Wairarapa from the start, with trustees, the accountant, website administrators and a team of four dog fosterers based here.

“We are a virtual organisation,” RWD trustee Marie-Claire Andrews said. “The benefits of that are to the people and animals we help. It allows us to be streamlined and agile in our operations.”

The charity assists ageing or retired working dogs, young “failed” working dogs that don’t make the cut on the farm, and injured dogs. It focuses solely on working breeds, such as huntaways, heading dogs, collies, kelpies and pig dogs.

“Sometimes, the farm can’t afford to keep these dogs as pets, so they’re put down,” Andrews said. “Some are rehomed by farmers locally – but without careful matching to new homes, this might not work out.”

By operating online, the charity is not restricted by physical space and is “never full”, Andrews said. In lieu of an animal shelter or office, RWD has fosterers, who care for dogs between their owner and new family.

New Zealand’s team of volunteers communicate via video calls from anywhere, while the RWD website holds data in one place – with online profiles of available dogs kept up-to-date. Its active Facebook page has 35,000 followers.

In Wairarapa, there have been 23 recent rehomes of heading dogs and border collies, including five puppies, Andrews said. About eight local dogs were looking for homes when Midweek went to press.

Andrews said RWD is the only charity in New Zealand with this sole focus, although some other Facebook groups advertised ex-working dogs.

“We get enquiries direct to our website, or social media channels, as our profile is pretty well known now,” she said. “We also have great relationships with local vets who’ll let us know if they’re treating an injured working dog and if the farmer is keen to rehome.”

Andrews herself has a rehomed former pig dog, Eric, as a pet: “He is gentle, amazing with our cats and chickens, loyal, loves a good snuggle and a good run around the park with other dogs, followed by a big sleep.

“He loves rides in the truck and will lie there all day with my husband at work, getting pats and snuggles from the tradies he works with.”

RWD was founded and developed into a registered charity by Tararua vet nurse Natalie Smith, from her own home.

Smith, Andrews and other volunteers can be seen raising awareness at events such as the Martinborough Fair, and the recent Ageing with Attitude Expo in Masterton – where Eric and his furry friend Jill were a hit with the crowd.

The charity does not allow “buying and selling” of dogs through their network, although foster dogs come with an adoption fee to contribute towards medical bills and cost of care.

Adopters are warned that working breeds that have not reached retirement age are active and need lots of exercise.

The RWD website includes “success stories” including former owners who have kept in touch with their rehomed dogs, and also a section on “lifers” – dogs unable to be rehomed due to health or behavioural issues.

Andrews said RWD is supported by local businesses such as South Wairarapa Veterinary Services and Iris Christopher of ICA Accounting Services. Donations are tax deductible.

    For more information on Retired Working Dogs, visit its website, retiredworkingdogs.org.nz, or search on Facebook.

    < to new homes, this might not work out.”

    By operating online, the charity is not restricted by physical space and is “never full”, Andrews said. In lieu of an animal shelter or office, RWD has fosterers, who care for dogs between their owner and new family.

    New Zealand’s team of volunteers communicate via video calls from anywhere, while the RWD website holds data in one place – with online profiles of available dogs kept up-to-date. Its active Facebook page has 35,000 followers.

    In Wairarapa, there have been 23 recent rehomes of heading dogs and border collies, including five puppies, Andrews said. About eight local dogs were looking for homes when Midweek went to press.

    Andrews said RWD is the only charity in New Zealand with this sole focus, although some other Facebook groups advertised ex-working dogs.

    “We get enquiries direct to our website, or social media channels, as our profile is pretty well known now,” she said. “We also have great relationships with local vets who’ll let us know if they’re treating an injured working dog and if the farmer is keen to rehome.”

    Andrews herself has a rehomed former pig dog, Eric, as a pet: “He is gentle, amazing with our cats and chickens, loyal, loves a good snuggle and a good run around the park with other dogs, followed by a big sleep.

    “He loves rides in the truck and will lie there all day with my husband at work, getting pats and snuggles from the tradies he works with.”

    RWD was founded and developed into a registered charity by Tararua vet nurse Natalie Smith, from her own home.

    Smith, Andrews and other volunteers can be seen raising awareness at events such as the Martinborough Fair, and the recent Ageing with Attitude Expo in Masterton – where Eric and his furry friend Jill were a hit with the crowd.

    The charity does not allow “buying and selling” of dogs through their network, although foster dogs come with an adoption fee to contribute towards medical bills and cost of care.

    Adopters are warned that working breeds that have not reached retirement age are active and need lots of exercise.

    The RWD website includes “success stories” including former owners who have kept in touch with their rehomed dogs, and also a section on “lifers” – dogs unable to be rehomed due to health or behavioural issues.

    Andrews said RWD is supported by local businesses such as South Wairarapa Veterinary Services and Iris Christopher of ICA Accounting Services. Donations are tax deductible.

      For more information on Retired Working Dogs, visit its website, retiredworkingdogs.org.nz, or search on Facebook.

      < A “virtual charity” that rehomes retired working dogs has no animal shelter or office – but operates successfully using a website, social media and word-of-mouth.

      Retired Working Dogs NZ [RWD] is a nationwide charitable trust, which has been rehoming working breed dogs since 2012. The charity has operated in Wairarapa from the start, with trustees, the accountant, website administrators and a team of four dog fosterers based here.

      “We are a virtual organisation,” RWD trustee Marie-Claire Andrews said. “The benefits of that are to the people and animals we help. It allows us to be streamlined and agile in our operations.”

      The charity assists ageing or retired working dogs, young “failed” working dogs that don’t make the cut on the farm, and injured dogs. It focuses solely on working breeds, such as huntaways, heading dogs, collies, kelpies and pig dogs.

      “Sometimes, the farm can’t afford to keep these dogs as pets, so they’re put down,” Andrews said. “Some are rehomed by farmers locally – but without careful matching

      to new homes, this might not work out.”

      By operating online, the charity is not restricted by physical space and is “never full”, Andrews said. In lieu of an animal shelter or office, RWD has fosterers, who care for dogs between their owner and new family.

      New Zealand’s team of volunteers communicate via video calls from anywhere, while the RWD website holds data in one place – with online profiles of available dogs kept up-to-date. Its active Facebook page has 35,000 followers.

      In Wairarapa, there have been 23 recent rehomes of heading dogs and border collies, including five puppies, Andrews said. About eight local dogs were looking for homes when Midweek went to press.

      Andrews said RWD is the only charity in New Zealand with this sole focus, although some other Facebook groups advertised ex-working dogs.

      “We get enquiries direct to our website, or social media channels, as our profile is pretty well known now,” she said. “We also have great relationships with local vets who’ll let us know if they’re treating an injured working dog and if the farmer is keen to rehome.”

      Andrews herself has a rehomed former pig dog, Eric, as a pet: “He is gentle, amazing with our cats and chickens, loyal, loves a good snuggle and a good run around the park with other dogs, followed by a big sleep.

      “He loves rides in the truck and will lie there all day with my husband at work, getting pats and snuggles from the tradies he works with.”

      RWD was founded and developed into a registered charity by Tararua vet nurse Natalie Smith, from her own home.

      Smith, Andrews and other volunteers can be seen raising awareness at events such as the Martinborough Fair, and the recent Ageing with Attitude Expo in Masterton – where Eric and his furry friend Jill were a hit with the crowd.

      The charity does not allow “buying and selling” of dogs through their network, although foster dogs come with an adoption fee to contribute towards medical bills and cost of care.

      RWD dogs are usually unsuitable for the work they were bred for, so people looking for a working dog are encouraged to look elsewhere. Adopters wanting a pet are warned that working breeds that have not reached retirement age are active and need lots of exercise.

      The RWD website includes “success stories” including former owners who have kept in touch with their rehomed dogs, and also a section on “lifers” – dogs unable to be rehomed due to health or behavioural issues.

      Andrews said RWD is supported by local businesses such as South Wairarapa Veterinary Services and Iris Christopher of ICA Accounting Services. Donations to RWD are tax deductible.

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