Case study: Rachel & Kaia

A lovely story of how Kaia changed Rachel's life.

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June 14, 2022

Rachel and Kaia's story

A few months after being diagnosed with PTSD, Rachel got a beautiful dog called Kaia.  She was just intended as a pet to join her other dog, as she’d always wanted a border collie, but it didn’t take long before she realised what a positive impact Kaia was having on her PTSD symptoms - she was even able to stop treatment!

At this point, Rachel knew Kaia would be an amazing therapy dog and wanted her to be able to help others too.

Though therapy dogs unfortunately aren’t recognised as assistance dogs here in New Zealand, through Canine Friends and St John Pet Outreach, Rachel discovered she and Kaia could be assessed for their suitability for visiting hospitals, rest homes and schools. Kaia wasn’t yet one year old to qualify for the assessment, so Rachel used the time to get training!

She taught her to stand against a bed or wheelchair, manners, how to be calm and focus while working, and some tricks. Like a true border collie, Kaia thrived on every bit of learning and training.

Kaia had a few quirks and common behaviours and traits sometimes seen in border collies, so she decided to join our Dog Zen Virtual Dog School to work through those and better prepare for the assessment.

“I joined Dog Zen to help me understand her better and to work on some of her quirks. I had heard amazing reviews on Dog Zen and I knew that Mark’s training would be the right training for Kaia. I wanted some help to prepare Kaia for her assessments for therapy work and Mark and his team were able to provide this through their online program. I also started having some issues getting Kaia to follow commands when we were out somewhere, this mainly started when she hit her teenage years and then we were placed into another lockdown so it couldn’t be worked on straight away. Joining Dog Zen was a no brainer to enhance her training in a positive way.”

A huge CONGRATULATIONS is now in order for Rachel and Kaia as they recently had their assessment and PASSED! They’re now ready to start on some hospital and rest home visits, bringing comfort, support and joy to those around them.

Rachel would love to see therapy dogs recognised as assistance dogs in NZ, after seeing how unbelievably helpful she was with her PTSD symptoms.

We’re so proud of you Rachel and Kaia. This is such a lovely example of how dogs can have such a hugely positive and meaningful impact on us, and the wider world!

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