As part of the Holidawgs family, you are all aware that we give back a portion of all our bookings to the animal charities and causes we support.
I stumbled across this cause last week, and I have to share this with our community as it’s such a worthy cause! It is also run by the same owner of the company where Shiva & Shakti are receiving their social training. During their social training some of the dogs that walk with us are medical alert dogs. As part of their training they also need to stay up-to-date, or learn social skills and be able to navigate tricky situations they may encounter on their day-to-days with their companion – whether that be from human or animal alike. So the dogs that walk with us are all super social and gentle; help our two trust other dogs, and our two in turn help them navigate anxious dogs/situations.
What is a Medical Alert Dog?
To be honest, I thought medical dogs were dogs specially trained for the blind or deaf – but it goes far beyond that. Medical alert dogs are also used for Diabetic alerts, Epilepsy and Emotional (trauma) support. And we have our very own, and one of a kind in South Africa at least, training facility for these dogs. You know what’s even better? They use rescue dogs! Now that is a cause I can get behind. Turning the unwanted, surrendered or rescued into working companions and giving them a second chance at life.
Honey’s Garden Medical Alert Training Centre
The centre is located in Cape Town, but dogs are matched to families all across South Africa. They are a non-profit organisation whose mission is to place quality service dogs with people within South Africa who are under privileged, fighting with disabilities or diseases, and veterans who have lost use of limbs or hearing. Of course also helping rescue dogs along the way.
Training of the dogs are costly, and paid out of their own pockets with some donations and sponsorships through companies like Hills Pet Nutrition, who are currently the primary food sponsor. Even though the training is costly, Honey’s Garden aims to keep the training costs low through donations & sponsorships to make having one of these companions accessible for all across South Africa.
How Dogs are Chosen & Trained
Wherever possible, Honey’s Garden uses rescue dogs from a variety of re-homing organisations. They test all dogs that have the potential to be a service dog, but often turn dogs away who take these tests. The qualities needed to be a service dog are strict and although breed agnostic, they need to have the correct character and work ethic in order to have a future career as a service dog.
All of the service dogs and emotional support dogs undergo stringent testing, including the KUSA Canine Good Citizen Award to Gold standard. Once they receive their certificate they need to be reassessed annually so they stay certified. Honey’s Garden does this at their own cost.
Matching with a Special Needs Person
Matching is a two way event! I loved this 🙂
Although on paper families complete quite a hefty form of their requirements and daily routine to find the best doggy match; the final test is meeting in person to see if they get along with their new human companion and their family. Typically the dog is willing to work harder (and finds it rewarding) for someone that it likes or can bond with, so making sure the match is just right, is vital.
Contact Honey’s Garden
Find out more, sponsor or volunteer at Honey’s Garden Medical Alert Dogs if you live in Cape Town.
They also have an active FB page (Medical Alert Dogs) where they share some of the training and success stories.