Therapy dog life-changing for teen with OCD

20 August 2019

17-year-old Abigail Pratt from Horowhenua has received a $5,000 grant from the Mazda Foundation to purchase a therapy dog that will assist with her many disabilities.

Abigail had a difficult start to life, and as a teenager now struggles with auditory processing disorder, dyslexia, obsessive compulsive disorder, sensory processing difficulties, anxiety and panic attacks, which make the simplest of tasks overwhelming.

Therapy dogs are trained to provide people who struggle with sensory difficulties and extreme anxiety with a sense of calm, giving them something physical to focus on when things become overwhelming.

Rochelle Pratt, Abigail's mother, says, the therapy dog will help calm Abigail down during episodes, prevent her from hurting herself while also providing companionship and protection.

“When we visited the therapy dogs in Tauranga I watched with tears in my eyes as Abigail took one of the dogs for a walk, she has never done this on her own before.” says Rochelle.

The Pratt family are one of 32 recipients who collectively received more than $100,000 in the latest round of Mazda Foundation Funding for 2019.

In Auckland, Big Buddy Mentoring Trust received $2,848 to help them set up a new office in South Auckland.

The Trust recruit men to volunteer as long-term mentors for young males aged between 7-14 years old who do not have a father or a significant male role model in their lives.

Through the Big Buddy programme, the young boys are guided into adulthood by their “buddies” who lead by example and show them what it means to be a good man.

Media and Communications Coordinator, Sally Webster, says there is a significant need for Big Buddy’s services in South Auckland.

“We plan to have a mentor coordinator operational in the area by September 2019 and their target will be to match at least 20 young males with a volunteer mentor each year,” she says.

Young Mariners of New Zealand facilitate outdoor programmes in sailing, rowing, rigging, camping and kayaking for girls aged 8 -19 years old in Auckland.

They received $7,597 to purchase a new safety boat to allow it to continue its on water education programme. Its previous boat was 11 years old and the pontoons were separating from the hull, making it unsafe and unusable.

Each year the Mazda Foundation hosts three funding rounds to help Kiwis in need, having gifted over $3.5 million back to the community since its inception in 2005.

David Hodge, Managing Director of Mazda New Zealand and Chairman of the Mazda Foundation says he is always inspired by the Kiwis and organisations working to make a difference.

“It is amazing to see a therapy dog make such a difference in Abigail’s life and I am proud that the Mazda Foundation can have a positive impact on people’s health and wellbeing.

The Mazda Foundation is funded through a contribution from the sale of every new Mazda in New Zealand. For information on other recipients from the June funding round, please visit:

Applications for the next round of Mazda Foundation funding applications close on September 30, 2019. For more information or to download an application form, visit

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