Four people celebrated the gift of Mobility, Independence and Companionship when they became the proud owners of their new Guide Dogs on Sunday 5 October.
Andre Kleinhans is now the proud owner of Guide Dog Tank, a black male Labrador who has the most beautiful eyes. Whilst initially a little sceptical Andre has become very attached to Tank and even ventured out for an evening meal at a nearby restaurant with his new friend. Megan Jones, Tank’s Puppy Raiser, says that her home is much quieter without Tank and her hope for her beloved boy is that he can retain his zeal for life and play whilst simultaneously taking up the important responsibilities of a qualified Guide Dog.
Deon Daniels is married with 3 children. Deon is very musical and plays keyboard, drums, saxophone and clarinet in a band. Legend, a black male Labrador, is Deon’s first Guide Dog. Whilst Deon only received his Guide Dog a few short weeks ago he says that he already trusts him with his heart and soul. Legend was raised by Nicola and Stefan Kostlin, who with a year of precious Legend memories, hope that Legend will live up to his name for Deon.
Sindy Coetzer is a young lady who loves nature, animals and music. She is very adventurous and would love to one day Bungee jump. Gemma is her first Guide Dog and is a female Labrador who is black in colour. Gemma was Puppy Raised by Rose and Basil Kransdorff who say that she has adorable eyes that look into forever. Sindy has bonded well with Gemma and would not trade her for anything.
Johannes Grib, second time Guide Dog owner, received a beautiful black male Labrador named Lennox. Johannes’ previous Guide Dog (Kyle) has recently retired and become his family pet. Johannes is looking forward to this new chapter in his life with Lennox safely at his side. Lennox was raised in the home of Neels and Angel Conradie who fondly remember Lennox’s long silky ears and constantly wagging tail.
A few of our Puppy Raisers were also able to attend the graduation. These dedicated volunteers take our pups into their homes at 7 weeks of age, teach them basic obedience, socialise them and return them to GDA after a year. This first stage adds huge value to the success of our training programme.
Gail Glover, Executive Director of S A Guide-Dogs, opened the proceedings and introduced the students. Guide Dog Mobility Instructor for the class, Joel van Stavel, then gave attendees an overview of what life had been like for the students during the previous three weeks. Leon Bunguza, Service Dog Trainer, explained what goes into the training of Service and Autism Support dogs. Dackley Merafe, Orientation and Mobility Practitioner from the College of Orientation and Mobility, outlined the services offered by the College. Students can complete a national diploma in Orientation and Mobility, where sighted students are taught to effectively train visually impaired people in South Africa on the skills of daily living and mobility using a long cane.
Pieter van Niekerk and Gail Glover then handed out Certificates of Appreciation to various sponsors for donations and services offered to GDA. Some of the parents, pupils and teachers of St Dunstan’s College attended the graduation. The College have sponsored 17 dogs since 2001 and will more than likely increase this number this year.