The South African Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind (or S A Guide-Dogs for short) was founded in 1953 by Gladys Evans and her Guide Dog, Sheena.
The organisation offers service dogs to people with disabilities or those who have special needs. Dogs trained by the association will become seeing-eye dogs for the visually impaired, service dogs for people with disabilities, or support dogs for children with autism. Trained professionals with the association also run a College of Orientation and Mobility where they provide long cane, visual skills, and daily living skills training to children and adults with visual impairment, at no cost.
The breeds most suited to becoming Guide Dogs are the Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, and Golden Retriever. The Association breeds its own dogs from specially selected breeding lines. At seven weeks old the pups are placed in the homes of volunteer ‘puppy raisers’ who provide the first vital year of social and preparation training – but the cost is borne by the Association.
At approximately 16 months old, the dogs are ready for their formal training which takes six to eight months. They are then carefully matched with the right person to ensure a long and lasting good working relationship. This partnership training takes place first at the association’s residential training centers, and then in the home and neighborhood of the dog’s new owner. Regular follow-up visits and an open line for help and advice are part of the package.
SA Guide-Dogs is funded entirely by way of donations from the public and business.
Venue: Gladys Evans Training Centre, 126 Wroxham Rd, Paulshof, Sandton, Johannesburg
Time: Mon to Fri 8am to 4.30pm