Pierre de Villiers was the post production director and he did a brilliant job in capturing the spirit of the social development projects we focused on in the series.
The series was called Siyaphambili which is Zulu for 'We are moving forward' and celebrated the efforts of the men and women who are helping to move us all in the right direction.
This 4 minute video shows how the beautiful puppies are trained to be guide dogs. You can follow the training regime from when the puppy walkers train the young dogs in preparation for their work as a guide dog. The blind person also undergoes training and learns how to take the lead from these wonderful animals. The sponsored program was first broadcast on South African television and consisted of highlights from a full documentary we made for a program called 50/50. The series was produced at cost and I have no current association with the sponsors.
One of the highlights of the series was meeting and interviewing the founder of the SA Guide Dog Association in sadly what turned out to be her last interview. Please see the highlights from the interview with Gladys Evans in the video below.
Gladys held the production team spellbound as she displayed her wonderful humour and told of her feisty determination to bring the guide dog movement to South Africa to assist other blind people.
On the Guide Dog Association site you will find two word documents that you can download. One gives an overview of the history of the use of of dogs as guides for people who are blind. The other document deals more with the history of the UK organization. They are absorbing to read and I think any student will find them both moving and fascinating and they could provide an excellent reading exercise and topic for discussion.
You could then include either or both of the two videos. Perhaps you could also include a role play to bring home the difficulties and challenges that a blind person must face and overcome. Students could work in pairs with one being blindfolded and the other acting as their guide as the former follows instructions and directions to reach a certain point in the room or locate and object.
I was fascinated to read in the article that, 'the first special relationship between a dog and a blind person is lost in the mists of time, but perhaps the earliest known example is depicted in a first-century AD mural in the buried ruins of Roman Heculaneum.'
Although there is some discussion online as to which mural is being referred to, some suggest that it could be the one above. Please see all links to sources and credits at the end of this article. The site where I found this photo has lots of other murals taken from the ruins of Pompeii which really give insights into the day to day lives of the Romans at that time. I think that could it be another theme to build a lesson around in the future.
I could not find the plaque online but found this one which shows a dog being used for hunting at that time.
If anyone comes across a pic of the wooden plaque please do let me know as I would love to add it to this blog.
Here's the full article from a publication by the British Guide Dogs which you can download at their site. (Please see links below)
Dogs had always formed a special relationship with humans and one between a blind person and a dog is lost in the mist of time. An early example is found in the first century AD in a mural in the buried ruins of Roman Herculaneum. Even in the middle ages a wooden plaque shows a dog leading a blind man by a lead. But the first systematic attempt to train dogs to aid blind people came around 1780 in Paris, at a hospital ‘Les Quinze-Vingts’ for the blind.
Shortly afterwards in 1788 one Josepf Riesinger, a blind sieve-maker from Vienna, trained a spitz dog so well that people often doubted that he was blind. Then in 1819, Johann Wilhelm Klein, founder of the institute for the Education of the Blind in Vienna mentioned the concept of the guide dog in his book educating blind people, however, no records exist of his ideas ever actually having been realised. Never the less a Swiss man, Jacob Birrer, wrote in 1847 about his experiences of being guided over a period of five years by a dog he himself had specially trained.
The modern Guide Dog story really begins during the First World War. Thousands of soldiers were returning from the front blinded, often by poison gas. A German doctor Dr Gerhard Stalling, had the idea of training dogs en-masse to help those affected. The story goes that while walking through the hospital grounds, he was called away urgently and left his dog with the patient as company. When he returned, he got the distinct impression from the way the dog was behaving that it was looking after the blind patient. Dr. Stalling started to explore ways of training dogs to become reliable guides, and in August 1916 he opened the World’s first guide dog school for the blind in Oldenburg.
The school grew and branches opened in other German towns and cities training up to 600 dogs per year. These not only to ex-servicemen but to blind civilians in Britain, France, Spain, Italy, the United States, Canada and even the Soviet Union. Sadly this venture had to close in 1926, but bythat time another large guide dog training centre had opened in Potsdam, near Berlin, which was proving to be highly successful, its work broke new ground in the training of guide dogs, and was capable of accommodating around 100 dogs at a time and providing up to 12 fully trained guide dogs a month. In its first 18 years the school trained more than 2,500 dogs, with a rejection rate of just 6 per cent.
In around the late 1930s a wealthy American woman called Dorothy Harrison Eustis was already training dogs for the army, police and customs service in Switzerland at her kennels, Fortune Fields.
It was Dorothy Eustis’s energy and expertise that was to properly launch the guide dog movement internationally.
Having heard about the Potsdam centre, Eustis was curious to study its methods, and spent several months there. She came away so impressed that she wrote an article about it for the Saturday Evening Post in America in November 1927. A blind man called Morris Frank heard about the article, he bought a copy and later stated that the five cents it cost him was worth more than a Million dollars to him, it changed his life! He wrote to Dorothy Eustis telling her that he would very much like to help introduce guidedogs to the United States. Taking up the challenge, Dorothy Eustis trained a dog, Buddy, and brought Frank over to Switzerland to learn how to work with him. Frank went back to the States with what many believe to be the American’s first guide dog.
This success encouraged Eustis to set up guide dog schools of her own in Vevey Switzerland around 1928, and shortly afterwards in the United States. She called them ‘L’Oeil qui Voit’, or the Seeing Eye. This quoted from the Old Testament of the Bible – the hearing ear and the seeing eye’. These were the first guide dog schools in the modern sense.
So what of Britain? In 1930 two Bristish women, Muriel Crooke and Rosamund Bond, heard about The Seeing Eye and contacted Dorothy Eustis, who sent them over one of her trainers, in 1931, the first four British guide dogs completed their training and three years later ‘The Guide Dog Association was founded.
In 1932 the need for a permanent trainer was recognised and Mrs Eustis sent one of her own from ‘L’Oeil qui Voit. This turned out to be Captain Nicolai Liakhoff a former officer of the Russian Imperial Guard who, having left Russia had been forced to earn a living as a taxi driver, chauffeur, painter and waiter in Paris.
One day in Postsdam, however he had seen a guide dog at work and was so struck by what he saw that he went to work with Mrs Eustis in Switzerland. He arrived in England in October 1933 and was to have a profound impact on the Association. He continued to work for the Association as trainer, director or training and finally as consultant until his death in 1962, by which time many of the key features of today’s guide dog training were already in place. By 1963 the Association had begun to recruit volunteers to become puppy walkers looking after the puppies for the first year of their lives.
Note: This article can be downloaded as a word document at http://www.guidedogs.org.uk/aboutus/guide-dogs-organisation/history#.U-TARuORmUM
Links to these wonderful organizations can be found below. If you are able to support them in any way that would be wonderful and please share this blog to draw more attention to their amazing work and the courage of the blind person and his guide dog as they take the world as they find it in their stride.
As always, may all your good times be present continuous and future perfect!
To read more about the inspring work done by South African Guide Dog Association visit http://www.guidedog.org.za/
Follow the SA Guide dog association on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SAGuideDogsAssociationForTheBlind
Visit the UK Guide Dogs Association at http://www.guidedogs.org.uk/
Follow them on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/guidedogsUK
Word documents with more on the history of guide dogs can be downloaded from the excellent Guide Dog Association website at http://www.guidedogs.org.uk/aboutus/guide-dogs-organisation/history#.U-TARuORmUM
The site with examples of the murals from Pompeii can be found at http://pompeiiinpictures.com/pompeiiinpictures/R2/2%2004%2003.htm
Pics sourced from Siyaphambili: De Villiers Hilton
Additional footage director Francois Gerke
Siyaphambili Series director producer: Lawrence Hilton.
Produced by Pierre De Villiers, Lawrence Hilton & Maureen Stanier
Series sponsored by 3MSA & broadcast on ETV
All rights reserved © 2003 De Villiers Hilton
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More from the Siyaphambili series
Inspiring teachers! Meet Doris Zulu who is willing to do what ever it takes to improve levels in literacy in her community in KwaZulu Natal South Africa. Click pic below to see more on Doris' brilliant work