• Guiding The Way With Man's Best Friend

    Guiding The Way With Man’s Best Friend

    They say a dog is a man’s best friend but the clever canines at the NPO that recently received a Club Cares donation, the South African Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind, provide more than companionship – they form a crucial part of many people’s day-to-day life.

    Mrs H Kruger is a dedicated subscriber of Club magazine. She has been a donor of the South African Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind for many years, an association that she praises for the wonderful work that they do for the community. ‘I’m very glad that they got the donation. They truly do a wonderful job!’ says Mrs Kruger.

    The Club team paid a visit to the association’s Cape Town-based team. And while being surrounded by wagging tails was a definite highlight, it is the warmth and dedication of the people behind the association that made us realise just how deserving they are of ,the Club Cares donation.

    More about the NPO

    The South African Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind was first established in 1953, a time when there was a great need for such services to aid the visually impaired. ‘The association was founded by Gladys Evans, a visually impaired woman who went abroad to get a guide dog and upon returning to South Africa, decided that she would open the association so that people living with visual impairment in South Africa could also benefit from receiving a guide dog,’ explains Jackie Quail, the regional marketing manager of the NPO.

    ‘At SA Guide-Dogs we train guide dogs to help people who are visually impaired, service dogs to assist people who are physically disabled and autism support dogs for children on the high-support level of the autism disorder spectrum,’ she says. They also have an Orientation and Mobility department that trains practitioners to go out into the community and provide white canes and daily life skills training to the visually impaired.

    What does the process of training a guide dog look like? Jackie explains that puppy raiser volunteers play a big role in the process of training pups to become working dogs. Once these volunteers receive their puppies at the age of eight weeks, the young pups start their weekly classes where they learn basic obedience. After 13 weeks, their puppy raisers continue to socialise them by taking them to shops, restaurants, schools and other public spaces to get them used to different social situations, people and sounds.

    When the pups reach 14–16 months, their formal training at the association officially starts to either become a guide dog, service dog or autism support dog. This phase takes about six months, after which the dogs are finally ready to be paired with their person at around the age of two years old.

    By the end of last year, the association was responsible for uniting 28 guide dogs, six service dogs and 11 autism support dogs with owners.

    A well-deserved donation

    The NPO relies solely on donations and fundraising initiatives to bring in money. ‘We have a wonderful support network of corporate and individuals who are regular donors, but times are still tough and we are trying to build up this base even further,’ shares Jackie. She explains that she was in complete awe when she received the news that they were one of the lucky nominees to receive a Club Cares donation. ‘I couldn’t quite believe the amazing amount of money that was being donated as part of the Club Cares initiative. I was over the moon that we were selected. Thank you so much to Foschini and to Mrs Kruger for nominating us. This donation is such a huge help to the association!’

    The R45 000 donation will be used to cover the costs of the association’s vet bills and to pay for training equipment that is needed by the working dogs, says Jackie.

    The Club team is thrilled to have had a hand in helping the amazing NPO to be able to continue in training more dogs, and subsequently be of aid to those with a visual impairment.

    Do you know of a deserving NPO?

    Every second month, we’ll be donating to a worthy cause. Know of a non-profit organisation that needs a helping hand? You can nominate a registered NPO to receive a donation of R10 000. If your NPO is chosen in the random selection draw, you’ll get R1 500 as a thank you. Turn to page 70 in your latest Club magazine for details on how to nominate. 

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