FAQ

Many of the questions that you may have about G.D.A. and guide dogs are answered on this site. Here are answers to just a few of the questions that we are asked most frequently.

Q. When was the South African Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind established in South Africa?
A.  In 1953.  The Association is the only organisation involved in this field in South Africa being responsible for all aspects and quality control of Guide Dog services.
Q.  How long does it take to train a Guide Dog ?
A.  The actual training is around 6 months but GDA is responsible for the puppy from the moment it is born. Formal Guide Dog training commences at around 12 months, depending on the breed. Therefore the entire training process takes average 18 months.
Q.  How much does it cost to train a Guide Dog ?
A.  It costs approximately R80,000 to train a Guide Dog. A puppy can be sponsored for R5,000.
Q.  Do you breed your own dogs?
A.  Yes, we breed Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and cross Labrador/Golden Retrievers.
Q.  How much does a visually impaired person contribute towards the cost of the training ?
A.  We want Guide Dogs to be available to any person regardless of their financial position. The visually impaired person pays R100.00 towards their board and lodging for a 2 week stay at our training residence and R5.00 to purchase the dog.
Q.  What is the Guide Dog’s job?
A.  The Guide Dog helps the owner to avoid obstacles; prevent accidents in traffic, to locate destinations and to be a constant companion enhancing life and providing independence, mobility and companionship .
Q.  Does the applicant have to be totally blind to qualify for a Guide Dog?
A.  No, but visually impaired to the extent where the Guide Dog realises is required for mobility.
Q.  How is the Guide Dog thanked for doing a good job?
A.  By gently stroking under the chin and rubbing the chest while praising the dog verbally with genuine feeling.
Q.  How does the Guide Dog know where to go?
A.  He/she is taught how to locate general destinations during training e.g. chemist, butcher.  As the owner is well orientated to their area, specific destinations are taught during follow-up training.
Q.  Are you allowed to talk to or touch a Guide Dog?
A.  Always ask the owner first ie only with the Guide-Dog owner’s permission and only when the dog is off duty – NEVER at road crossings.
Q.  Are you allowed to feed a Guide Dog?
A.  No.
Q.  What is the Guide Dog like off duty – out of harness?
A.  A well behaved pet.
Q.  How long can a Guide Dog work for?
A.  Usually about 8 – 10 years, but this varies according to the health of the Guide Dog and aging process.
Q.  What happens if the Guide Dog team is faced with a problem that requires immediate intervention?
A.  An aftercare service ensures that they are visited within 24 hours irrespective of where the owner lives in South Africa.
Q.  What happens to Guide Dogs when they are too old to work?
A.  They retire, usually staying with the owner or if this is not possible GDA will find a loving home for the retired dog to earn his well-deserved rest.
Q.  Can the public visit the GDA training centre?
A.  Yes, as individuals or groups.  Videos and guided tours are available.  Please telephone  (011-7053512 or 021-6747395) or e-mail (info@guidedog.org.za) to make an appointment  and we will gladly show you our training facilities.
Q.  Are there any other guide dog centres in Africa ?
A. No GDA is the only training centre in Africa.
Q.  Does GDA receive any form of assistance from the government ?
A. No, all our funds come from donations as well as our own fundraising initiatives.
Q.  Who is the owner of the guide dog ?
A.  The client is asked to sign a contract with the Association whereby they purchase the dog for R5.00, however should certain conditions not be met then the Association reserves the right to repurchase the dog from the owner for the same sum.
 If there are any other questions you would like to ask us please feel free to contact Gail Glover (Executive Director) at GDA on 011-7053512