Funda Nenja, which roughly translates to “learning with the dog”, was established by Adrienne Olivier in 2009, when she became very aware of the need to educate the local township children how to humanely handle and care for their dogs. The initiative has grown remarkably since then, and there are currently around 120 children and their dogs who participate in the program.
We meet every Friday afternoon at 3.00 pm, in Mpophomeni Township, in the school grounds of Zamuthule Primary School. The children are split up into groups according to their ability or the age of their dog and they are taught how to handle their dogs using kind and gentle methods. They are also taught basic obedience such as sit, down, stay and to walk on a loose leash. The dogs are also fitted with collars and leads when they first attend. Funda Nenja issues each and every child with a pouch of training treats with which to train their dogs. Only positive reinforcement methods are taught and no harsh treatment is allowed. The children are also given a small parcel of training treats to take home to practice their training during the week.
As Funda Nenja is a non-profit organisation and relies entirely on donations, we are very fortunate to have a volunteer Animal Welfare Officer who treats all dogs that need any type of veterinary assistance, such as skin ailments, cuts and scrapes, ticks and fleas, de-worming, burns etc. We also vaccinate all dogs for Rabies. If we encounter a dog that needs advanced medical care, we then call the Umngeni SPCA, who come out the same day and take the dog back to their establishment for treatment. We are also very strict about sterilisation and insist on all dogs being sterilised if the children wish to stay in the program. This can get a little tricky as sometimes it’s the parents of the children who do not wish to sterilise their dogs. In these situations, our Education Officer will do home visits and advise the parents how important it is to get their animals sterilised. Our Education Officer will do various other home visits and educate the whole family on how to correctly take care of their pets, such as adequate shelter, food, fresh drinking water etc.
Funda Nenja is also very fortunate to now have a full time Social Worker who sees to the pycho-social needs of our children by counselling children in need, as well as presenting life skills lessons and workshops.
Funda Nenja not only teaches the children about taking care of their dogs, but also teaches them kindness, compassion and responsibility. It’s all about education.
News supplied by Funda Nenja.