Puppies are bred using South African Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind ‘s (GDA) specially selected stock. We import semen from International Guide Dog Federation member organisations. This semen is from proven working dog lines.
Our breeding stock undergoes a comprehensive veterinary check. The breeding stock have blood tests, eye checks, x-rays and scans done to ensure that an informed decision is made. Certain lines have proven to be successful and GDA has continued with the breeding from these lines. Our breeding stock live with families in loving homes and are checked by GDA staff on a monthly basis. Females are brought into the Centre at the first sign of season for safe keeping. The artificial insemination is done at Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital.
GDA aims to breed dogs that have the ability to become good Guide, Service and Autism Support Dogs. Labrador Retrievers most consistently exhibit the desired characteristics of stability, initiative, docility, adaptability and a robustness that helps them to deal with the demands of working in a variety of environments. Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds are valuable additions to the stock.
Puppy Raisers foster our puppies for the first 16 – 18 months of the pup’s life. They are responsible for socialising and caring for our puppy. This is a rewarding but time consuming task. We are always looking for special people to give our pups a happy puppyhood.
The Puppy Raising Scheme was developed to provide South African Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind with dogs who are well prepared for both advanced training and their future work as Guide, Service and Autism Support Dogs. The puppies are placed with their highly valued Puppy Raising families at around seven weeks of age where they are treated as part of the family for the first 16 – 18 months of their busy lives.
At a year, just when that mischievous puppy has developed into a well behaved and mature dog, they are brought in for their formal training. Many of the families start all over again with a new puppy. While the puppy is with the Puppy Raiser, they are socialised as much as possible. It is very important that the dogs are introduced to as wide a range of experiences, places, people and animals as possible on a repeated basis.
The pups need to be :
- Introduced to people of all races and ages, especially children.
- Taught to relieve themselves only on command when on lead and working.
- Introduced to and able to behave in an appropriate manner in shopping centres, post offices, shops, restaurants etc.
- Taught how to behave in the home.
- Taught how to behave around people.
- Taught how to walk calmly on a lead and ignore distractions in the environment.
At 10 weeks old the puppies are brought to the Training Centre for a 21 week puppy training and socialisation program. Classes are run on a weekly basis for the 21 week duration, thereafter monthly group walks and home visits are done.
Puppies can only learn appropriate and desired behaviour when the Puppy Raisers are with them to teach them, so a home where the puppy would be left alone all day during the week would not be suitable.
Puppies are preferably placed with multi pet homes, it is very important that pups are exposed to children of all ages throughout their upbringing.
The male pups are castrated at around six to nine months of age, the females are only spayed after their first year.
South African Guide-Dogs Association covers the veterinary costs incurred for pups on the scheme, in addition to vaccinations, deworming and micro-chipping. When Puppy Raisers go away on holiday or females are in season, we will board the pups in our luxurious, air conditioned kennels.
Martin & Martin sponsor the Bob Martin diet which our pups and adults thrive on.
GDA sends our dogs in training home for weekends similar to boarding school.
A weekend homer is someone who fosters our dogs in training over the weekend. The young dog is collected on a Friday afternoon and returned to the Training Centre on a Monday morning. Our dogs really appreciate their weekends away and they look forward to returning to “school” on Mondays.
The potential homer would make sure the dog has had sufficient rest over the weekend.
Bed and Breakfast Boarders
Bed and Breakfast Boarders are people who pass our Training Centre on their way to work. They are happy to fetch a dog in training between 16h00 and 17h00 and return the dog the next morning between 07h00 and 08h00. This is ideal for dogs that do not enjoy living in the kennel environment.
Should you be interested in becoming a puppy raiser, a weekend homer or a bed and breakfast boarder, kindly contact Leigh on 011 705 3512 or LeighD@guidedog.org.za.