Suzuki is a proud sponsor of the South African Guide Dogs Association for the Blind, and we are excited to introduce the three puppies we’ve sponsored over the past three years.
The South African Guide Dogs Association for the Blind is a non-profit organisation founded in 1953 by Gladys Evans. Evans had failing eyesight, and brought a guide dog to South Africa from the guide dog association in the UK.
The SA Guide Dogs Association specialises in providing highly trained service dogs to people with visual, physical, and developmental impairments. Their mission is to enhance the lives of those in need of independence, assistance with mobility, and companionship. A great amount of time and effort is invested in each dog, and it takes a whole team of people, who work together, to raise and train the dogs.
The journey taken by a guide/service dog is an extraordinary one. Starting from carefully considered breeding lines, the young puppy goes on to live with a designated puppy raiser. This job entails basic obedience training and extensive socialisation of the puppy. After a year of living with the puppy raiser, the dog (now about 12-14 months old) returns to the Guide Dog Association to complete a further six months of formal skills training. Each dog is different. They all have their own unique personalities and talents. When considering the pairing of a dog with an applicant, these factors are taken into consideration. After being matched with a recipient, the pair attend two to three weeks of residential training at the association’s training facilities. Home and neighbourhood training, specific to the client’s needs, is then completed. The dog and recipient are now ready to embark on their life-changing journey together.
Each year, as part of our sponsorship, we have sponsored the upbringing and training of a service dog. First we sponsored Sakura, then Kaida, and finally Akari. Each dog’s name means something special in Japanese, and is traditionally chosen by our community members
Sakura, our first puppy, is a two-and-a-half-year-old Black Labrador. Her name means “cherry blossom” in Japanese. Sakura is already working in the field as a service dog for an autistic child. Her training allows her to provide comfort, grounding and stability to her young partner.
Kaida, our second puppy, is a Golden Labrador. Her name means “little dragon” in Japanese. Originally in training to be a guide dog, she has now been chosen to be part of the breeding programme. Only the best females are chosen for breeding, and Kaida will be a mommy to future generations of working dogs. She has traded in her ‘Guide Dog Puppy’ vest and now proudly wears her ‘Guide Dog Mommy’ vest instead.
Akari, our third puppy, is a four-month-old Golden Retriever. Her name means “bright” in Japanese. She is still in training and is currently with her puppy raising family, who absolutely adore her. She is incredibly intelligent, very adventurous, excelling in her obedience and socialisation training, and is well on track to become a superstar service dog and amazing companion for someone in need.
You may be asking yourself, ‘So how can I help?’
As the SA Guide Dogs Association is a non-profit organisation. They receive all of their funding from fund-raising events and donations. Each year, they host a raffle to raise funds. All proceeds go towards supporting the association, aiding them in continuing to change lives with the service dogs they train.
Giving hope to people in need and significantly improving the lives of countless people, the SA Guide Dogs Association is a cause Suzuki is proud to support.