Meeting Aimy, our Mandela Day and South African Guide Dogs Association project

Meeting Aimy, our Mandela Day and South African Guide Dogs Association project

In July, we announced on LinkedIn that AIMS would be doing something unique for Mandela Day in honor of Madiba. However, before we could share our little project with the world, we had to let it grow and develop!

We are now ready to share the exciting news!
Meet AIMY!

Mandela Day takes place on the 18 July each year and to support this initiative, we as a company search for different (CSR) projects each year and allow our employees to choose what is most important to them as well as something that allows us to help an outreach program.

AIMS strives to help others by continuously working with various foundations and this year AIMS decided to partner with the South African Guide Dogs Association.

We got in touch with Melanie who provided us with the different options for ways we could assist. The Litter Legends Program excited us as it allows us to sponsor the growth and development of a guide dog puppy and on the 18th of July (Mandela Day) AIMS adopted a little pup and the journey began.

Puppy block M was born in July, thus giving us the perfect opportunity to pick the pup we wanted to start the journey with.

M Block Puppies

What is the Guide Dog Association

SA Guide Dogs Association (GDA) was founded in 1953 as a Non-profit Organization (NGO) and Public Benefit Organization (PBO). Their goal is to enable visually and physically impaired members of society, including children with Autism, to live independent lives through freedom of movement and the acquisition of skills required for full participation.

Our journey with the Guide Dog Association and picking Aimy

Knowing that we could pick from puppy block M, this is where our journey started. During this time, we needed to decide on a gender and then pick three names that would be sent in to name the puppy.

We reached out to our employees to give them an opportunity to suggest names and vote on which gender. The outcome was that AIMS feels feminine to majority of the employees, which quickly determined our gender.

Picking the name was a challenge! We received so many suggestions which were then narrowed down and after a lot of back and forth we were finally able to narrow down from the employee’s submissions and the name suggestions were then submitted to the naming committee for approval.

In a few short weeks they had chosen ‘AIMY’, see what we did there AIMS = AIMY.

Aimy was then adopted by AIMS to assist in her growth and development to becoming part of the Guide Dog Association Program. Aimy is a Golden Retriever – Labrador Mix, forming part of puppy block M. This would be her home with her siblings and mom for the next 8 weeks before they are placed with their puppy raising family.

In August we received an update that the M-puppies were doing well, and they were three and half weeks old. They had started on real food and some milk from mom.

Little Aimy was growing strong and having fun with her siblings, time went on and Aimy together with her mom and siblings at 7 weeks old were still in the puppy block facility playing in the enrichment area, but soon they were to be placed with their puppy raising family.

The puppy raisers are volunteers within Gauteng area, this being mostly Johannesburg and Pretoria. Puppy Raisers dedicate their time, energy, resources, and homes to make sure pups are ready for formal training. They start to raise the pups from between 7 to 8 weeks old until they are 16 to 18 months old. Towards the end of September, we received news that Aimy had entered the next phase of her journey to becoming an Assistance Dog. She had been placed with her puppy raising family, and she is in good hands as her puppy raiser has been involved with the association for several years. From this point onwards, Aimy will spend her time in their home, while she is loved, trained and socialized. Once a week she will get together with her siblings for a group class, this is all to lay the best foundation possible before she starts her formal training, working as an Assistance Dog.

Pictures of Aimy at 7 weeks

Aimy’s Journey continues

On the 2nd of November we received news from Melanie that Aimy is doing well and was turning 4 months old on the 11th of November. Aimy and her siblings had been attending a couple of puppy classes which would be guided by a supervisor. Aimy, her Raiser and siblings have learned to follow specific cues like sit, stay, down and are being trained to walk while being on a lead. They are also learning to find and target specific items.

During Aimy’s early puppy phase the trainers use treats (puppy pellets) to encourage them to do the right thing. This is quite effective with the Golden Retriever – Labrador mix as they are a food driven breed. Through positive reinforcement Aimy will learn to follow her trainer’s instructions. This is important as it lays down a good foundation while she is young for her to graduate to the next phase. Aimy is now wearing her official Guide-Dog Puppy jacket, while she attends classes or when she is out and about with her family.

Aimy in her training jacket and in training

It has been wonderful for the AIMS team to be a part of this important and valuable cause. We are all so excited to follow Aimy on her journey to becoming a guide dog. We will be sure to post more Aimy updates as she progresses!

Other Articles