OUSA’s top dog up for national recognition

 Student Support worker Ella with her colleagues (from left) Dwaine Tait, Rayna Dickson, Nicky...
Student Support worker Ella with her colleagues (from left) Dwaine Tait, Rayna Dickson, Nicky Breese, Leda Norris and Beth Tua’i. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Licking and sniffing your work colleagues and clients is generally not acceptable behaviour in a busy office.

But on the rare occasions when Ella does it, exceptions are made because the Otago University Students’ Association Student Support worker is good at her job.

In fact, the Labrador is so good, she has been selected as a finalist in the "top dog with a job" category of the New Zealand Top Dog competition.

The winner is due to be announced this afternoon, and while Ella’s colleagues are excited to see if she wins, Ella herself could not give two woofs.

For her, the day will be no different from any other and she will be happy to be doing her duties as usual.

OUSA senior student advocate Dwaine Tait said Ella was "a professional".

"Here at the centre, we support students through lots of stuff. It could be ranging from having tenancy issues or having adjustment issues or academic concerns.

"Often students come in here seeking support for those things and Ella will greet them at the door sometimes and she plays a huge role in just comforting them.

"It’s not unusual for students to come by here, not to talk to us, but to just hang out with Ella for 20 minutes or so."

Ella was a rescue dog, originally from South Africa, where she had a traumatising puppy-hood.

Mr Tait said she moved with her new family to Dunedin in 2019.

"We think that she was mistreated quite a bit, so the irony of her supporting others is pretty amazing, given her past.

"Regardless of the outcome [of the competition], she’s a top dog in our eyes, and I think if you asked most of the students who know her, who come by, they would say the same thing."


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