Mobility Dogs senior trainer Natalie Ramm works with new trainees at ARWCF. A warm welcome awaited Golden Retrievers Fletcher (16 months) and Cedric (18 months) as they reported for their advanced Mobility Dog training at the self-care unit at Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility (ARWCF).

“The arrival of new pups is always such a thrill, and all the excitement puts everyone in a great mood,” says ARWCF Residential Manager Corinne Ola.

It was a double dose of enjoyment indeed, as Cedric was also reunited with his sister, Harper. Once the two were let loose on the back lawn of one of the units, there was no stopping them chasing each other and rolling on the wet grass after a spot of rain.

“At present, the women are training five dogs, preparing them to support people living with a disability,” says Mobility Dogs Senior Trainer Natalie Ramm.

“The skills include retrieving and carrying items, loading and unloading the washing machine, pressing buttons for elevators and pedestrian crossings, helping with payments in shops, and turning lights on and off.

“All the tasks these fledgling service dogs learn are specific to the needs of people with mobility difficulties.”

In 2020, Corrections’ Puppies in Prison programme in partnership with Mobility Dogs celebrated its 12th anniversary. More than 250 service dogs have been trained by roughly 150 prisoners participating in the programme, which is run at both ARWCF and Spring Hill Corrections Facility (SHCF).

The handlers training the dogs can also enrol for a qualification in companion animal care.

“We feel really lucky to be involved in this programme,” says one of the women. “Training the dogs gives us a real sense of purpose, and just having them around means so much for our own wellbeing.”

Read more about the Puppies in Prisons programme at: