Venn, the five-year-old black labrador, works hard at Phoenix Pharmacy 2001, not only as team morale provider but as a service and mobility dog for his owner, Sam Burton.
Sam is a pharmacist at Phoenix and takes Venn to work with him every day.
Sam has Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that affects the nerve and
muscle joints. This results in delayed muscle reaction and weakness in his joints, so if knocked or tripped he is prone to falling as his stabilising muscles don’t react fast enough.
Venn helps to keep Sam balanced and creates space around him so that the risk of being bumped is
While Sam is working behind the counter, Venn sleeps in the back room, popping his head out
occasionally to check on his owner or look for snacks. He loves people but has the calm demeanour of a
well-trained service dog.
Customers love him, Sam said. “They react really positively and come to say hi. They just like seeing
him,” he said. Some have been known to ask for Venn when they come into the store.
The other staff members at Phoenix love having Venn at work. “We go to talk to Venn, we vent to Venn,
and it’s weird when he’s not here,” said Bronwyn Turner, owner of Phoenix Pharmacy. “He’s such a good
dog. We love Venn, we love Sam,” she said.
The staff also bought Venn treats and gave him lots of love while he was at work with them, Sam said.
You can visit Venn and Sam at Phoenix Pharmacy 2001, 11 Pyne Street Whakatāne.
Words: Alex Roa Staff Reporter – Beacon, Opotiki News, Eastern Bay Life
Photo: Troy Baker E1921-09