On 19 November, 17 more assistance dogs graduated and yet another emotional graduation ceremony.
The journey leading up to this day starts from the day the puppy is born, and ends with a three week training course before the dog and its new person starts their new life together and further training continues in the new environment.
As everyone that is part of this journey would attest, it is not easy! One of our graduates was Timothy Stones who received his guide dog for the first time.
During his speech, Timothy summed up his whole experience:
The one thing that I got out of this experience is trust. Trust to empty oneself of oneself and put all of oneself into the dog. This is more than a dog, this is more than a companion. This is more than a friend. There really is no way to describe what these dogs are to us. It is an incredible relationship to have and I am only just starting it. I am excited, I am daunted but I am also excited for the journey that lies ahead.
The graduates formed a very close bond with each other, the trainers and of course their dogs. They even came up with their own song whenever they were doing a task with their dogs!
Timothy acknowledged everyone that is part of this special journey and made special mention to our donors and sponsors for without them, we would cease to operate.
We also celebrated Jessica Long who qualified as a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor and 6 of our broods who officially qualified as certified broods for breeding our future assistance dogs.
We receive applications for Assistance Dogs from people who are visually impaired, families whose children were diagnosed with autism and from individuals with spinal injuries or other physical disabilities that hinders their ability to move freely.
Our application and waiting list is as follows:
Visually Impaired/ Blind applicants for Guide Dogs : 54
Children with Autism for Autism Support Dog : 22
People with physical disabilities for Service Dogs : 8
From January to October 2022, we have formed and provided independence and freedom to 38 teams:
Guide dog teams: 21
Autism Support teams: 12
Service dog teams: 5
Our job is never done as we are the only accredited organisation in South Africa that can provide these services.
We are only able to provide people like Timothy with a trusted companion thanks to our valued donors.