Felipe and Nala are inseparable. Golden Retriever Nala is an incredible guide dog and 11-year-old Felipe’s faithful companion.
When people ask Felipe what he wants to be when he grows up, he always says: “I want to open my own workshop. I will wake up early every day while everyone else is still asleep and say to Nala, ‘Come on, time to go to work’. “
Felipe was born completely blind. When he was 6 years old , he was diagnosed with atypical autism (PDD-NOS after the English Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified ), which affects his ability to socialize and communicate with others.
Nala, Felipe’s new companion, was trained in her role as guide dog at the Guide Dog School of Argentina , an institution that has helped many others in Felipe’s situation over the years.
Felipe and Nala: The perfect team
Felipe never sits still. He loves technology and is curious about everything. During the days he goes to a school for children with learning difficulties, where he participates in several different activities. He also attends a school for the blind, swims for the local swimming club and also has plans to start playing tennis.
When Felipe first considered getting a guide dog, he had no real understanding of how Nala could help him. But once he realized all that his new friend could do , he quickly fell in love with his new life.
Felipe and Nala: Friends for life
Felipe and Nala’s friendship was not always obvious. At first Felipe did not know how to give the right commands. To be able to interact with a guide dog, it is important to use the right tone of voice.
Fortunately, with a little practice, Felipe learned to change his tone and communicate with his new friend.
Felipe had the following to say about communicating with Nala: “I do not have to be angry with her, but sometimes I have to pretend that I am. When she’s done something stupid, I have to pretend I’m angry. But I never really need to scold her. ”
The relationship between Felipe and Nala is so strong that even when she is not “working”, she stays by his side, and follows him wherever he goes.
Mental and physical benefits
Nala’s arrival has had an incredibly positive impact on Felipe’s life. By having to take care of his new friend and helper, he has been given several new responsibilities that keep him busy.
Nala has also helped Felipe emotionally. She keeps him calm, and when he pats her he feels relaxed and safe.
Who can have a guide dog?
As the name suggests, guide dogs are trained to lead people who are blind or visually impaired. They can help their drivers perform everyday chores and other tasks.
Due to their status, guide dogs have certain rights and privileges that other dogs do not have. They can, for example, go into shops and travel by public transport.
But even if they are good at helping their drivers avoid obstacles and dangers, there are things they can not do, for example, they can not distinguish between red and green, which can make it difficult to read traffic lights.
To understand the traffic lights and know when it is safe to cross the street, they must instead look at which light is on. This requires very high intelligence, and a lot of training.
Training of guide dog
It can take up to two years before a dog is classified as a guide dog. The training lasts from the time they are born until they meet their new owner.
According to experts, however, not all guide dogs are suitable for all owners or situations. For example, a dog that lives in a small village may not do as well in a larger city where there is more traffic, people and noise…
Guide dogs usually work until they are 12 years old. They then have to go to the vet for a check-up to see if they can continue working, or if it is time to “retire”.