Tuesday, 30 November 2021 - 3:00pm

Mobile milkbar helps young pups thrive

2 min read

News article photos (5 items)

Isla with her blended family.
Isla's new temporary blended family.
All the pups feeding from mum, Isla.
Zoe's complete litter of 14 pups.

Keeping the kids well fed, nourished, warm and safe is just as important in the canine world as it is for human new mums.

So when Guide Dog poodle Zoe was struggling to maintain her milk supply with 14 hungry new mouths to feed in Auckland – the solution was simple. Fly four of the tiny poodle cross labradors to the New Zealand Police Dog Training Centre in Trentham where they have been welcomed by Police’s labrador Isla and her trio of ‘E’ litter pups.

Four-year-old Isla is an exceptional mum and it’s not the first time she’s wet nursed and cared for a blended family. In June 2019, she gave birth to Tiny and Taylor – now operational detector dogs – and took on two German Shepherd pups from different litters who were struggling to feed from their biological mums.

This latest blended family arrangement took place after consultation between Blind Low Vision NZ, the Police Dog Training Centre, the Guide Dog vet team at Franklin Vets in Papakura, and Massey University vet specialists.

One of Isla's own pups being used as a pillow by one of the guide dog pups.
Isla's own pups have been doubling up as great pillows for their temporary siblings to rest on.

Inspector Todd Southall, National Coordinator: Police Dogs, says service and working dogs are an important asset.

“We’re delighted to help out our friends at Blind Low Vision," says Todd. "This is a great example of the relationships which exist within the service dog sector, our veterinary and breeding programme teams.

“We all strive to give every pup the best start in life with the aim of one day being good enough to become a successful working dog.”

Isla’s temperament, good milk supply and previous mothering efforts made her an ideal choice.

Travelling in style - the guide dog pups in their aeroplane seat for their flight to Wellington.
Travelling in style.

Four of Zoe’s pups were selected for Saturday’s Air New Zealand flight to Wellington with Lydia Charteris, BLVNZ Health and Breeding Programme Manager. The week-old pups travelled in the cabin in a special insulated box complete with heating pad to keep them warm.

The three boys and a girl were met on arrival by Sue Alexander, from the Police Dog Training Centre’s Breeding Centre, and were soon introduced to foster mum Isla and her pups.

Within minutes Isla’s in-built milk bar was open for business and the blended family of seven are all thriving.

The Police pups, two girls and a boy are two days older and bigger than their new buddies who are expected to stay together for eight weeks before returning to Auckland.

Lydia Charteris, Blind Low Vision NZ, says the kindness, generosity, care and support from everyone involved in the transfer is appreciated beyond words. “It’s been an epic team effort with a very happy ending for Zoe and all of her pups – in Auckland and in Wellington.”