The crucial role service animals play in South Africans' lives

Relebogile Mabotja spoke to SA Guide Dogs Board Member, Lanya Stanek and guide dog user, Laylaa Jacobs about having a service animal and the training process.

FILE: The training for a service animal starts when the dog is a puppy, and it can take up to 24 months. Picture: switlanasymonenko 123rf

While many people may have seen service dogs out and about, they might not be aware of how much work goes into training them and the important role they play in their owner’s life.

Relebogile Mabotja spoke to SA Guide Dogs board member, Lanya Stanek and guide dog user, Laylaa Jacobs - who was with her guide dog, Jedi, about the training process and having a service animal.

SA Guide Dogs trains three types of service animals - guide dogs for the visually impaired, service dogs for the physically disabled, and assistance dogs for those on the autism spectrum.

The training for a service animal starts when the dog is a puppy, and it can take up to 24 months during which time they will determine what type of service animal they are best suited to be.

Once the animal is paired with an owner, they play a crucial role in their day-to-day lives and performing tasks, which is why the training needs to be so thorough.

Jedi really is Laylaa’s eyes as she is navigating places, if he gets distracted and pulls her in a direction it could cause her to be compromised.

Lanya Stanek, SA Guide Dogs board member

Jacobs said that having her service dog has made a huge difference in her life in terms of her independence and her confidence from having him.

Not only do I get that independence of being able to get to my destination safely but it’s a confidence booster as well.

Laylaa Jacobs, guide dog user

To find out more, listen to the full audio below.

This article first appeared on 702 : The crucial role service animals play in South Africans' lives