Dogs make life normal, better

2015-08-04 06:01
Guide dogs make life much easier for the blind. 


Guide dogs make life much easier for the blind. PHOTO: TIYESE JERANJI

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For the past 65 years the SA Guide-dogs Association for the Blind has been helping blind people be independent and live normal lives.

The Association says while it tries hard to improve the lives of many blind people it doesn’t come easy. They put in a lot of money to train dogs.

They can’t reach as many people as they would like because they don’t have enough money to train many dogs.

At the moment there are about 20 people on the waiting list to receive guide dogs. Someone can be on the waiting list for about 18 months before they get a suitable guide dog.

Teagan Schwerin, SA Guide-dogs regional coordinator, says they want to help a lot of people. To keep afloat and continue to help they host functions to raise money.

On World Sight Day on 8 October they will be hosting a gala dinner to help raise funds.

“We breed three types of dogs only and it costs more than R8000 to get the dog ready. Guide dog owners only pay R5, which is for the contract, and R100 for the boarding fee when they have to be trained with their dogs on the routes they will be taking. It is nothing compared to what we put in to have the dog ready.

“We wish to help a lot of people but we can’t because it’s so expensive. We are inviting more people to come and support us for the gala dinner in October so that we can touch more lives.

“We really want to change a lot of lives but without the help from out there we won’t be able to make it,” she says.

Nicky Labuschagne, who is blind, says she attributes that she is able to live her life to the fullest to the help she gets from her guide dog Becks. She has had Becks for the past 11 months.

“Life is much easier. Guide dogs are very helpful and they make people look at you in a different way. It wasn’t easier with a cane because I was limited. People didn’t want to talk to you because they are scared they can hurt your feelings.

“It’s so true that the dog is an ice breaker; people admire the dog and they play with it, then they get to you. By talking they see that you’re a normal person just like them.

“Having a guide dog has made life much easier. I was able to play with my son. I throw the ball and the dog picks it up. He throws and the dog picks it up, so I never missed on my child’s playtime because I’m blind.

“If it wasn’t for SA Guide-dogs, life would be something else. That’s why we are calling on more people to help so that they can touch more lives and change their lives,” she says.

The gala dinner will be held at Kelvin Grove in New­lands. You can book a ticket for R700 by calling Schwerin on 021 674 7395.

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