How we began

It was a dog’s one-way trip to the vet that started it all.

In 2012, Natalie Smith was working as a vet nurse in Pahiatua, near the Tararua Ranges.

There, she met Todd – a 12-year-old working dog, brought into the clinic for euthanasia.

Natalie fell in love. She felt Todd was not ready to go, so she took him home.

From there, a big idea was born!

She decided to start a charity; a rescue dedicated to helping seniors enjoy well-deserved retirements.

So, with the help of local vet, and now fellow trustee, Helen Sheard, and local vet nurse, Kayla Groves, Natalie’s dream became a reality!

More than a decade later, the now-nationwide rescue and its three trustees, Natalie, Helen and Marie-Claire Andrews – together with a multi-skilled team of volunteers and foster carers – help secure promising futures for working breeds of all ages.

And, in case you’re wondering, Todd – the big oldie that set all this in motion – happily lived to 17!

Working dogs – the facts

  • Many of our oldies have spent their lives on large stations. As age creeps in, they begin to slow down, so the farmer must leave them behind as the team head off to work. Retiring to pet life or continuing a slower pace of work on a smaller block of land is a welcome lifestyle change for them.
  • Some dogs are referred to us through vet clinics after experiencing career-ending injuries. We place them in foster care and rehabilitation while they await their ideal homes.
  • Young “failed” workers often know the basic commands with genuinely excellent recall. Very smart and energetic, they may become destructive (chewing, digging or barking) if not sufficiently exercised and stimulated.
  • In general, working breeds are trustworthy around stock.
  • Workers that have only lived outdoors are not difficult to housetrain.