Welcome to our Dog House! We are an American family who moved to New Zealand several years ago. We live on a lovely lifestyle block in rural Hawkes Bay with a few pet sheep and our Labradors. While my husband works full time, my passion is my Labradors whom I breed, raise, train and then volunteer alongside (in their Therapy Dog, Service Dog or Scent Dog work). I have a very unique approach to raising my dogs... including raw feeding them, having birthday party events with former puppy families, cuddle sessions, life-long training, and a dedicated 160m2 (1800 sq. ft.) "Dog House" tailored specifically to the dogs. Our puppies are specially raised to ensure they are healthy, sociable, confident, and loving. While I am always learning, I consider my approach a forerunner in how to raise Labradors in particular as well as multiple dogs within a family (as opposed to a kennel) environment. I believe that each dog has their own natural and special talents that can be developed to help others and I enjoy spending my life focusing on these abilities as well as sharing my dogs with others!
*️️️️️️️️️*️️️️️️️️️ We apologise but if you email asking to stay when our calendar shows that we are already booked OR if you email asking to stay for less than our 1 month requested commitment OR if you email and have no experience with dogs, you may or may not receive a reply. We just don't have the time to reply to these type of requests... which unfortunately we receive daily. Genuine, applicable requests will most certainly receive our attention.
Help in the house
While we are not native-born kiwis, we understand first hand what it is like to be away from your homeland and be in a new country. I love to share what I've learned about Kiwi life and compare/contrast it to American life and then learn how that compares to OTHER cultures. My approach to raising my dogs is one-of-a-kind. It is not what you will typically find (after all, how many people live with 12-40 dogs at any given time?) and a great learning experience about what goes into raising great healthy and happy dogs. In order to minimally disrupt our dogs and puppies and for volunteers to learn as much as possible, starting in 2018 we will be looking for volunteers willing to commit to a stay of 1 month or longer at the Dog House.
We are specifically looking for someone to provide general cleaning help (vacuuming, dusting, mopping floors, cleaning walls, kitchen clean up) as well playing with and interacting with the dogs and puppies when we have them. Depending on the time of year, there is also the potential to help with Therapy Dog work, puppy parties, and more.
Our property is surrounded by huge sheep and cattle farms. On our own property (along with the labs) we have a small flock of sheep. We are in the final stages of restoring/remodeling a 100 year old school house into a first-of-its-kind "Dog House" for my dogs, showcasing a different approach to raising/breeding/training dogs. Most people with multiple dogs (i.e. breeders) rely on kennels for their dogs but Labradors are family dogs... they are at their best when integrated into a family. Our Dog House is designed to be able to raise multiple dogs in a family/pack environment and we welcome volunteers to experience this environment first hand.
If you come to the Dog House, you MUST be prepared for the following:
*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️ Dog hair -- you will find it EVERYWHERE regardless of how much we clean
*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️ Dirt/Dust -- both on you, on the floors, and on the dogs... just a fact of life (again, despite how much we clean)
*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️ Being licked -- they are labs... VERY affectionate
*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️ Being sniffed -- everywhere!
*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️ Being crowded -- both for your attention as well as to see what you may have, be doing, what you're wearing, where you've been, etc.
*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️ Strong smells -- dog farts, dog poop (normally only when there are babies!), and that "lovely" wet dog smell if it's been raining
*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️ Loud noises -- while they are fairly quiet as a norm, one can hear something and will alert the pack sending them all in a tizzy. Or they will get excited and start barking/howling. Or someone new will come into their space and they will all start barking. It can be startling when it goes from quiet to noisy in 0.6 seconds.
*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️ A pack type environment -- when you have this many dogs, it is a different type environment than a single dog in a family environment. We are constantly on the alert for dogs not getting along, dogs coming into season, dogs who may not be feeling up to par and more.
Things you MUST have to enjoy your stay...
*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️ Layered clothes that you don't mind getting really dirty (sweatshirts/hoodies) and possibly even destroyed
*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️ Lots of socks -- they will repeatedly get muddy and dirty
*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️ Shoes that can get muddy/wet and your feet will stay relatively dry. Wellies/gum boots are ideal but not necessary.
*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️ A pair of new cheap shoes you can dedicate to inside wear that you can easily kick off/put on (ie jandals/flipflops, crocs). This is critical for the nursery so that we are not bringing germs in from the "outside world".
*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️ A "hit the ground running" attitude -- don't be shy to make suggestions and share what you know! This is how we ALL learn.
*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️ A good sense of humour -- we are almost always having fun during our work... never letting things get TOO serious!
*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️ A good work ethic -- you will be expected to do whatever tasks you take on well and thoroughly and to be able to make suggestions if you see something that needs doing
*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️ A flexible nature -- each day is different and we all have to go with the flow. The dogs basically dictate our days and it's important to stay flexible so we can respond to any upcoming needs.
*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️ An ability to be somewhat isolated from town. We are out in the country so it's not a quick jaunt into town but we DO have internet so you won't be isolated from the rest of the world!
*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️ An absolute love of (dare I say obsession with?) dogs! If you just "like" dogs or if you are wondering if you would like to own a dog, this is NOT the place for you! But if the idea of being surrounded by a bunch of big lovable furry labs all eagerly awaiting cuddles and each with different personalities sounds like heaven, send us an message and "talk dogs" to us!
We are 25 minutes from the lovely village of Havelock North, 45 minutes from gorgeous beaches, less than 5 minutes from a great pub, and are frequently blessed with gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. Accommodation will be in our "Dog House" that has a full kitchen, toilet and electricity as well as ALL the dogs! The Dog House does not have central heating nor a shower at this time (shower is at the main house... less than 30m/100ft away).
Our days start early... the dogs are up before 7am but by early evening all they want is to snuggle. They sleep in indoor crates, but spend the majority of their time loose indoors/outdoors which means any volunteers will RARELY be without dogs around them. We have two sleeping accomodations:
*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️ A single loft cubby (approximately 2m x 3m x 1.5m in height) (6' x 9' x 4' in height) with a twin mattress. Since the sleeping loft is only sitting room height, the mattress is on a platform on the floor. The loft is accessed by a staircase (to give volunteers a space that is Labrador-free) and is located high in the Training Room (the dogs' sleeping room).
*️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️️ Camping under the stars is also possible for lovely nights year round.
Meals can be a bit adhoc... especially when we have puppies. Volunteers are welcome to join in with what we have planned.
Please note that our property is fairly isolated but we regularly go into town so you are welcome to tag along. We do not set specific working hours. We expect volunteers to help out throughout the day, taking breaks when they need to/wish to. Our work comes in spurts and is not continuous but it is equally difficult to set a specific schedule or fixed working hours. Basically we do what is needed throughout the day and that varies from day to day.
Short drive to Waipawa (15 minutes), Hastings (25 minutes), Havelock North (25 minutes) and Napier (40 minutes). We'll likely ensure you get to see the views from Te Mata Peak, the stunning Ocean Beach, the quaint village of Havelock North, the Arataki Honey Factory and the Art Deco city of Napier!
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
Flexible. 5 hours per day, 5 days a week