There are about 285 million people in the world with impaired sight. 39 million of them are completely blind, and 19 million of them are children under the age of 15. In Latvia about 40 thousand people have serious sight problems, and 7 thousand of them are practically blind1. That is shocking data, and in everyday situation it is hard y to imagine how important environmental access, and sense of safety is to these people. In many places of the world increasing care is being taken to make life easier for people with impaired sight.

One way of achieving this is through development of guide dog service. Our association had great hopes for financial support of Latvian Government in buying, training and the upkeep of new guide dogs, but disappointingly the latest news regarding this is negative. Naturally that is hard to understand especially if we consider the good example of our neighbour — Finland where even the President’s family is raising a future guide dog.


Aleksejs Volkovs with Teodors, on whose bridle you can see the emblem of the LRC- a red cross

For the Service Dog Association TEODORS year 2014 was very productive
In this years activity of the association one of the main event was the agreement with the RED CROSS OF LATVIA which gives the association the right to use their symbol „RED CROSS” on the informational uniform and the bridle-rein of the service dogs (Photo No.1). That will make it more easer for the society to identify the service dogs, and take it a step closer to a safer everyday life for people with functional disorder.
The Association expresses their thanks to the director-general of the Latvian Red Cross Uldis Līkops for his response and interest.
This year, we have completed another important task — one of the first guide dogs in Latvia — the puppy Olle has been raised and trained. Currently, Olle has grown up and has become a beautiful intelligent guide dog and now lives in his new home in Helsinki. You can read about this in Anita Zvirgzde’s guide dog foster family blog:
Olle’s 1st birthday was celebrated at Strazdumuiža Secondary Boarding School-Development Centre for Visually Impaired and Blind Children (hereinafter — the Strazdumuiža Secondary Boarding School). It was attended by Olle’s friends and pupils from the school. The children were given the task of drawing or painting a portrait of Olle. The children’s drawings were so interesting that we created an exhibition of them. The exhibition subsequently travelled around Latvia, visiting several old people’s homes, as well as Jugla Secondary School/Riga and was also warmly welcomed at the City of Rēzekne’s 2nd Library.).


The Service Dog Organisation during a visit to the Strazdumuiža Secondary Boarding School acompanied by guide dogs and guide dog therapists

On 30 April when International Guide Dog Day was celebrated all over the world, the TEODORS association visited the Strazdumuiža Secondary Boarding School. The children at the school were visited by four guide dogs and their masters, as well as therapy dogs. Accompanied by her guide dog Zane, Beāte Bringule and Aleksejs Volkovs with Teodors told the children about their experiences, environmental accessibility, trust and friendship. During the event, those in attendance could caress and hug the dogs and learn how to walk with a guide dog under the tutelage of a kinologist.


In turn, on 30 May, accompanied by Teodors, Olle and Dīva, the Service Dog Association’s representatives visited Daugavpils to tell people with special needs about the possibilities and advantages offered by guide dogs. This meeting was arranged by the employees of the Daugavpils branch of the Latvian National Library for the Blind. The meeting was attended by a lot of people, which ensured that it took place in a friendly atmosphere. Those attending the meeting had the chance to spend time getting to know the guide dogs and to take the dogs for a walk accompanied by a kinologist and, in crossing the street, to sense how much these dogs help to make everyday life easier for their masters. We are pleased to inform you that one of the dogs trained by Zaiga has started life in the care of a new master — also Aleksejs in Daugavpils, because both passed their exams successfully.

Moreover, in December a guide dog examination is due to be held for two more pairs: Natālija with her dog Lati and Andris with Feja, a guide dog trained by Zaiga. We wish them success in their exam!


A group of blind and visually impaired children at EVS



Three of the four puppies that visited Finland: (from the left) Taina with Tirpa, the organisation’s kinologist Zaiga, Elvi with Naana and Maria with her daughter Ronja and puppy Herttu.

This summer, for a third year in a row, the European Summer School (EVS), which is intended for Latvian children (it is attended by about 50 participants aged 11 — 16 years) from overseas and Latvia, was attended by four blind children with their special tutors. Vanesa and Deniss who were taking part in the EVS for the third year in a row performed folk dances so deftly and with such confidence that there was no difference in their dance performance to that of other children.In the middle of August, our Association invited the general public to help to find foster families for eight Labrador puppies, in order that, upon reaching the age of one, they could move to a school for guide dogs and become good lifelong companions and assistants to people with impaired sight. Currently, four puppies have found foster families in Latvia, while the other four live in Finland (Photo No. 4). The puppies are already five months old and are learning to be friendly and patient, as well as getting used to moving about using various means of transport and mastering other skills. You can read their stories on our homepage:, as well as on the social networking sites: Facebook, and Twitter.

The goal of the campaign was to raise and train puppies to be guide dogs for people with impaired sight in Latvia, but in light of the negative attitude of the Latvian government, in revoking its promise to provide financial support in 2015 for the service dog movement, the campaign’s objective is currently in jeopardy. Now it all depends on the generosity and donations of the Latvian public. We will do everything possible to ensure that these dogs remain in Latvia and will therefore try to involve the general public in helping to resolve this issue.

In October, Georgia hosted the Forum for the Blind, at which participants from seven countries gathered. Latvia was represented by Aleksejs Volkovs with Teodors. The goal of the Forum was to ascertain each country’s problems in regard to the everyday existence of blind people and to share solutions to these problems, as well as receive an introduction in writing Erasmus-plus projects. Aleksejs was the only person to bring his guide dog to the forum, because there are no guide dogs in countries like Ukraine, Armenia, Moldova and Georgia. The Forum’s participants listened to his story with great interest.

At the start of October, the Estonian city of Tartu hosted an international guide dog competition involving the participation of 6 teams from Estonia, Finland and Latvia. Latvia was represented by Aleksejs with Teodors and Natālija with the dog Lati. In the team results, the Latvian team finished 3rd, but in the individual competition: Aleksejs finished in the position of runner-up with Teodors.

On the 15. of October, International White Cane Safety Day (IWCSD), organisations from various countries organised public campaigns in which they accented the need for people with impaired sight to live independently. This year, under the auspices of IWCSD, Aleksejs Volkovs and Teodors visited Lithuania. The event was attended by representatives of police, customs, border guard and various social organisations. Currently In Lithuania, there are no guide dogs, and Aleksejs had the chance to share his experiences. People attending the event had a lot of questions for him, and it is possible that the first guide dogs will appear in Lithuania quite soon.

Activities planned in 2015atsk2014-6

  • social work in schools, events and summer camps;
  • training of a new guide dog
    (approximate cost: EUR 10,000);
  • guide dog upkeep
    (approximate cost: EUR 100/month per dog);
  • a trek for guide dog carers and members of the general public;
  • international activity — three boat trips with overnight accommodation in tents for families with blind children, as well for guide dog carers (participants from Latvia, Estonia and Finland);
  • participation of four blind children and two teachers at the European Summer School
    (about EUR 1,800);
  • training for assistants to people with functional disabilities;
  • qualifying heats for participation at the international guide dog competition in Finland, as well as participation in the competition itself;
  • various informative events aimed at promoting the association’s work, as well as identifying people in need of a guide dog.

The main goals and tasks of the association are as follows:

  • to encourage the fully-fledged social integration of people with functional impairments with the help of service dogs;
  • to encourage the development of the service dog (guide dogs, assistants, therapy) movement in Latvia, in accordance with international standards and to collaborate with service dog organisations in other countries;
  • to care for the organisation’s dogs from the time of their purchase until the end of their life;
  • to establish a network of foster families for service dog puppies up to one year old of age;
  • to educate society and people caring for service dogs;
  • to attract donations for the development of the service dog movement.

The association uses donated funds solely for the attainment of the association’s goals as expressed in the articles of the association.

The association’s account for donations:

Recipient: Servisa sunu biedriba
Reg. no. 40008208343
Acc. no. LV04HABA0551036537614

The Service Dog Association expresses their deepest gratitude to those who already support the service dog movement in Latvia, including our Finnish partners. We are asking you to continue this cooperation in order for the movement to attain even better results.

Riga, December 2014

1 Source — politikas nakotne/3.OP prior Sociala infrastr pasakums Darba tirgus inst un soc pak infrastr LM.pdf

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