Therapy dogs in big demand

Pictured: Sharna with Janine Taylor.|Photo: Emma Conyngham

Wanaka felt a bit of town pride last week when Janine Taylor was featured on One News’ Good Sorts. Janine Taylor has been volunteering for Therapy Dogs for 11 years with seven years in Kerikeri and the last four years in Wanaka. Sharna, her Tibetan Terrier, has faithfully been by her side helping kids to read and providing company and therapy for elderly residents.

“It was amazing!” said Taylor. “I was very honoured.”

Good Sorts is a public acknowledgement of private acts of continued kindness and service to the community. People who feature on the show don’t shout it from the rooftops - they quietly get on with the work of making the world a better place and that’s exactly what Taylor is doing.

Sharna, along with 15 other dogs, has been working in the Wanaka community in a project sponsored by St Johns and the SPCA. Selected dogs and their owners work with children in schools and public libraries to help them read; providing a non-judgemental, patient audience for kids who are struggling a bit with making words make sense. For the elderly, the dogs provide comfort, affection and amusement.

But the team is stretched. Sharna is old and about to be retired and there is such demand for their services that over the last four years they have gone from one dog to 16 but are now looking for another four dogs to join the team.

“We are looking for people interested in joining our team,” said Taylor. “You need to pass a police check and go through a full recruitment process and your dog will be assessed and you will be observed to see how you work with your dog and whether you can read a dog’s body language. If all goes well you then get allocated to a school, library or rest home.”

If any local resident and their pooch wants to join the team then email Janine on


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