Assistance Dog in training, Ness, warms hearts at St John of God Halswell

Our team at St John of God Halswell have an active programme of activities that engage and inspire the people we support. One of our most recent volunteers is an Assistance Dog in training, Ness, and her human, Glenn Parkes, and his family.

Ness visits our Halswell residential facility regularly with Glenn, providing some very welcome connection and interaction with residents. The Parkes family is raising and assisting with the early training of Ness for Assistance Dogs New Zealand Trust, who proudly provide purpose-trained Assistance Dogs to New Zealanders living with disabilities.

We have had Ness since she was eight weeks old and first visited St John of God Halswell in 2023. Ness has since visited several times attending the Happy Hour on Thursday afternoons. The residents are always excited to see Ness and she doesn’t disappoint with interaction and love for them all. It's always a pleasure sharing stories with the residents about their pets.

The visits have been very beneficial for Ness' socialisation and exposure to new environments, helping in the early stages of her training. To be involved with both Assistance Dogs New Zealand Trust and the St John of God Hauora Trust with Ness is a humbling experience for me personally and has been mutually beneficial for both parties.

Activities Coordinator Anita Hickling said the visits from Ness have been warmly received by residents who look forward to her visits.

Our residents just absolutely love all animal visitors and have all looked forward to spending time with the beautiful Ness," she said.

"Ness is so gentle and sensitive and her interaction with our residents is both a sensory experience and emotional connection – but is also a connection to memory for residents who may have had dogs of their own at other points in their life."

We are so grateful to all our wonderful volunteers and thankful to Glenn and his family for their work in raising Ness and in bringing her in to meet with residents.”

Ness looks forward to more visits and interactions with the residents. You can discover more about the Assistance Dogs NZ Trust at

Ness the Assistance Pup by George Anderson