Fun At The Guide Dogs Carnival
Yesterday (4 October 2009) I spend the day at SAGA (the South African Guide Dogs Association)’s fun day in Johannesburg. There were Labradors, Golden retrievers and dogs everywhere so the carnival was certainly the best part of my Sunday.
I only got their at 11:30, because none of my friends actually wanted to get up and go and I was dreading having to drive on my own in unfamiliar territory (so thanks to the friend who did go with me).
There was a flea-market and I just had to buy some SAGA merchandise. We bought some food from the food stalls, had some cofffee in the tea garden and enjoyed some entertainment.
First we watched trained dogs performing tricks. It’s amazing how clever dogs are. This was followed by dancing dogs.
A guide dog and service dog demonstration then followed, which was even more impressive. They had kids from the audience trying to feed the dogs hotdog buns, but they dogs (being “on duty”) incredibly ignored these distractions. They also ignored the balls that the children played with right in front of them. Guide dogs learn to ignore distractions dogs would naturally fall prey to such as other dogs, cats, children, food and toys.
Finally, to great amusement of the crowd, there was a competition between Bailey Schneider from Jacaranda FM and former Big Brother house-mate, Margret “Mags” vd Westhuizen, to see who could best operate a guide dog, . Both we’re blindfolded and partnered up with a volunteer “man”. They then had to walk to the other side of the arena to get the correct change (while still being blind), walk back to buy some clothing items and dress their man. The man then had to take the dog to the opposite side of the arena to fetch some water, bring it back and pour it in the bucket. Then the girls had to fetch water. Bailey narrowly won and Mags good-naturedly joked that the race was fixed.
We ended our day with a tour of the kennels where the dogs sleep. They were very happy for the never ending attention as we petted them through the bars.
It’s not very often you get to play with a guide dogs. When you see a guide-dog on duty, do not try to distract it. The dog has to stay focus on her job, for the safety of her owner.
Read: My post on Guide Dogs.
More about: SAGA