It has been a long haul since the P. Cutajar Foundation made a commitment to the Malta Guide Dogs Foundation (MGDF) back in 2017 to donate two guide dogs. Overcoming severe restrictions and lockdowns of the past 16 months brought on by the pandemic, the two are now happily in service and giving their new guide dog owners a fresh lease of life.
The guide dogs, Dora and Adel, were introduced to Denis Zammit Cutajar, CEO of P. Cutajar & Co. Ltd, who is a trustee of the P. Cutajar Foundation, last week at the P. Cutajar offices in San Gwann.
Dora was matched with Christine Mifsud, and is her second guide dog after Winnie, who is now retired and is a family pet. Adel was matched with Alfred Reale, who became visually impaired only in recent years, and is now enjoying a newfound freedom.
Dora was donated to the Malta Guide Dogs Foundation by the Light into Europe Charity of Bucharest, Romania, when she was still a puppy and was successfully trained locally. Adel came from a litter that was born in Malta and also successfully trained locally.
MGDF Chairman Joseph Stafrace explained how difficult the past months have been for the foundation, with many visually impaired clients being also vulnerable and unable to either go to work or generally go out in society (and also exercise their guide dogs). It is for this reason that the MGDF has been unable to organise a graduation ceremony for these dogs, which it still hopes to do in future.
The P. Cutajar Foundation, a local independent foundation, was set up in 2015 to support charitable and cultural initiatives, and is committed to sponsor and thus enable visually impaired persons to gain freedom and independence.
Mr Zammit Cutajar said he wished to make this donation public to encourage other companies and institutions to support the MGDF, especially in these exceptional times.
“Now that the two dogs are fully trained and in service, it is a pleasure to see them interact so well with their new owners. Visually impaired persons have enough challenges to overcome in these times and, knowing that their guide dog is totally dedicated to them, is so wonderful,” he said.
Both Ms Mifsud and Mr Reale expressed their appreciation to the P. Cutajar Foundation for its donation. Ms Mifsud said: “After my first guide dog, I did not expect Dora to reach the same standards. Comparisons are inevitable but Dora has exceeded my expectations. She is so calm when on duty and is so well behaved.”
Mr Reale, who was formerly with the Armed Forces of Malta, explained to Mr Zammit Cutajar how much Adel had changed his life. “I cannot imagine going out without her. There is no comparison with the White Cane. I feel so safe and confident when I am out with Adel.”
Guide dogs have two added advantages for the visually impaired: the guide dog owner can walk in the countryside on a rough road unaided and, when the guide dog and owner are out with a friend or family member, the guide dog will follow them so, when they are in an unfamiliar place, the dog takes over.
For more information, visit www.maltaguidedogs.org.mt.