With the appearance of the spring sunshine, our association resumed its activities outdoors!

The 2016 International Guide Dog Day in Latvia

This spring, we were delighted to receive the news that a project we submitted entitled “Provision of Social Assistance” had received support from Latvijas Valsts meži/ziedot.lv. We deliberately scheduled the first of a cycle of seminars to take place on International Guide Dogs Day, which was celebrated on 27 April this year. In the early afternoon, guide dog holders from Riga, Daugavpils, Carnikava and Liepaja met up in Vermanes Garden, which was the starting point from where each guide dog holder and their dog underwent practical training on the streets of Riga. When the training was over, all the participants moved onto the official opening ceremony at the “Birojnīca” café in Berga Bazārs. Project Manager Gunta Bite greeted the large audience and paid special tribute to the foster families responsible for looking after Latvia’s service dogs and to the guests from Finland, who helped to raise a number of guide dogs in Latvia. The presentation of a certificate of gratitude to Elvi, a foster parent from Finland, who has been raising guide dogs in her native country for over 30 years and is now helping to do the same in Latvia, was met with special applause. In turn, young flautist Maija Fogele delighted the audience with her beautiful renditions of musical compositions on the flute. It was a moving moment when the association handed over its fifth guide dog Rīga to her new mistress, sight-impaired Līga Ķikute. Rīga’s foster parent Signe Gorbāne from Alūksne experienced her charge’s graduation ceremony with tears in her eyes. The emotionally stirring nature of the event was also noted in the address given to the audience by Inga Pētersone, the representative of “Latvijas Valsts meži” JSC. In conclusion, Aleksejs Volkovs, Chairman of the Board of the TEODORS service dog association invited everyone to a discussion over a cup of coffee or tea, where they could study the printed materials on hand, particularly those printed in Braille, which were generously provided to us by the Latvian Library for the Blind.

Velga Zēgnere, May 2016.

2016-04-27 Teodors Birojnica 1

Late morning training involving from the left: Aleksejs K. with Tikka, Andris O. with Feja, x, Annemarie with puppy Anneken

2016-04-27 Teodors Birojnica 2

Service dogs and their masters

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The opening ceremony was well-attended

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The association’s dog trainers Zaiga Kļaviņa and Juha Herttuainen present certificates of gratitude to foster families, on the right: Project Manager Gunta Bite

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Young flutist Maija Fogele

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A young guide dog named Rīga is handed over to Līga Ķikute

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Brochures published by the association, including copies in Braille

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Coffee table

Lietuvas ciemiņiAlthough, we all like to visit friends, welcoming guests can also be a lot of fun. On 7 May, the Service Dog Association TEODORS was delighted to welcome some special guests from Lithuania. Our visitors were comprised of 50 members of a society for the blind, including social workers, rehabilitation specialists, young massage specialists, ergotherapists and dog handlers and trainers, who’d travelled from Klaipeda and the suburbs of the City of Klaipeda.

What was the reason for their visit? Not surprisingly, the main reason was to get a first-hand look at the everyday world of the TEODORS association and to find out how the well-known phenomenon of guide dogs works in reality, as well as about how to obtain such a dog, how to work with it and the ways in which a dog can help a sight-impaired person.

Our visitors were welcomed by the founder of the Service Dog Association TEODORS and its dog trainer/handler Zaiga Kļaviņa, the association’s Chairman Aleksejs Volkovs with his guide dog Teodors and by another member of the association, Natalja Muravjeva and her guide dog Latti. The guests were received in a friendly atmosphere at the Strazdumuiza Village Club. Our visitors from Lithuania had a lot of questions, because, at present, there are unfortunately no service dogs in Lithuania. The discussion was opened by Aleksejs, who told our visitors about our organisation, work and his personal experience of living and working with his guide dog Teodors. Zaiga introduced the visitors to the specifics of dog training and to the development of the system of foster families for dogs. Natalja and her guide dog Latti put on a demonstration of their joint practical work to show the guests the abilities of a guide dog. In front of the guests, Latti brought her mistress some items that had fallen to the floor including a shoe and a belt. Similarly, Latti also showed her mistress a free seat and at the end of the conversation, accompanied one of the guests – a sight-impaired girl named Rasa to the café.

The guide dogs made a fantastic impression on the visitors, some of whom said that they would not mind having such a wonderful, intelligent and helpful four-legged friend as a companion.

In conclusion, I’d like to say that we were delighted to welcome our guests and that, with all our hearts, we wish that they too can establish similar organisations in future so that guide dogs can also share their friendship and the warmth of their love with sight-impaired people in Lithuania.

Natalja and Aleksejs V. , May 2016

Lietuvas ciemiņi

International Academic Conference in Jurmala
On 13 May, our association was invited to attend an international academic conference entitled “Healthcare and the Quality of Social Welfare – Education and Practice” hosted by the Pauls Stradins College of Medicine. We were invited to give a presentation on how people can benefit from the assistance of dogs. There were so many participants that we had to divide them up into three groups. We also had to answer a lot of questions, because these listeners were particularly interested in our work, which is related to their professions.

2016-05-13 Stradini 1

Trainer Zaiga Kļaviņa (in the middle) talks about our association’s work. On the right- the association’s chairman Aleksejs Volkovs with guide dog Teodors, on the left: Baiba Baikovska.

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A noble therapy dog named Jerode (Samoyed) waits to make his appearance together with his holder Ramona Kārkliņa

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Baiba and her prospective assistance dog Elfa demonstrate the things that a assistance dog can do help a person in a wheelchair

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From the left; Aleksejs V., Ramona, Zaiga, Velga, Baiba and- in the foreground- therapy dog Jerode, guide dog Teodors and prospective assistance dog Elfa

“Breaking Out”– the 2016 Riga Marathon
On 15 May, the TEODORS service dog association responded to the chosen motto for the Lattelecom Riga Marathon 2016, i.e. “Breaking Out” by entering two sight-impaired athletes, one guide dog and several supporters of the association. The association’s goal in entering competitors for the marathon and its shorter sister races was to confirm the determination and readiness of sight-impaired people to “break out” of their usual environment and to take up their rightful place in public life, as well as to increase public awareness of the importance of the Latvian service dog movement, which operates on the principle of donations and voluntary work. Taking part in the marathon sends out a message from sight-impaired people to society, “With your support — WE CAN!”, and serves as a means of inspiring the public to make donations in support of the service dog movement in Latvia. In the marathon itself, the distances covered by the various members of Team TEODORS were as follows: ALEKSEJS VOLKOVS and his guide dog TEODORS and DENISS O. and his assistant ILZE RUDZĪTE ran 6 km, JUSTĪNE ELFERTE and IVARS KRAFTS ran 10 km, while KRISTAPS DAMBERGS ran the full marathon distance of 42 km. Despite the fact that the weather conditions for the 6 km and 10 km runners and viewers were very unpleasant, because these events took place in heavy rain, the participants took them in their stride and, having finished their various events, were proud of their respective achievements.

Thank you to all the runners for taking part and representing Team TEODORS with distinction!

Velga Zēgnere, June 2016
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From the left: our runners Ilze, Deniss, Aleksejs with Teodors and Renārs

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