GUIDE DOG GRADUATION CEREMONY – 26 MAY 2013
On Sunday 26 May 2013 Robert and I were invited to the Annual Guide Dogs Graduation Ceremony. Both Robert and I attended a really well organized morning. Various employees of the Guide Dogs Organization gave us a run down on the various training that takes place in the
A generic photograph of a Guide Dog in Harness was awarded to all who sponsored a Guide Dog Puppy until it has been trained which is what the funds collected from our monthly raffles have been used for, which was donated to them during December 2012. Following on from the presentations, a Kennel Tour was undertaken in groups. The Guide Dog Association is housed on 17 Acres of land.The Tour commenced at the Puppy Block where everything was explained on how they choose the prospective parents of the forthcoming litter. There were 8 new black Labrador puppies which will be homed for a period of fourteen months with effect from Friday 1 June, where they will be housetrained and socialized. They are also taken back to the Guide Dog
premises regularly to socialize with the other dogs. These puppies will spend the first fourteen months of their lives with Puppy Trainers (an Independent family very carefully selected) before being returned to the Guide Dogs Association for their formal training as a Guide Dog. Photographs can be viewed where the puppies have an area where they can explore – very much like a playground with equipment for them to play on. There are also hospital facilities for dogs that have had surgery or if they have not been well, there they are in separate cages and soothing music is played so as not to stress these dogs and strict records are kept on their progress.
This formal training takes approximately 6 – 8 months constant training before they are then ready to be handed over, but before that they spend three weeks with their prospective handlers in a live-in environment at the Gladys Evans Training Centre in Sunninghill to allow the handler to spend as much time getting to know their new companion (not having to do the everyday chores), they then embark on going shopping, eating out in a restaurant, travelling on public transport and then after the Graduation they are then ready to proceed together. Thereafter, a Sunday is set aside for the Graduation when the Handler is then presented with their Harness enabling them to then be totally reliant on the Guide Dog and also having a Companion.
We were also enlightened on the training for Disabled persons in wheelchairs where dogs are trained to fetch cell phones, picking up keys, remotes, switch on lights, open a drawer, barking to attract attention if the wheelchair bound person is in trouble and anything that a normal person can do, the dog is trained to do all for the wheelchair bound person. There is also a division who train the trainers for the blind on the use of the White Cane. To become a Trainer – takes 24 months full time. The morning was rounded off by having a cup of tea and socializing with the various staff members and invited guests.
A Huge Thank-you to everyone who contributes to our monthly Raffle on Club
Marlene & Bob Hooper