Ilio and Yalta – companions and aides to persons with disabilities

It is often said that a dog is man’s best friend. Ilio and Yalta are two dogs that have been brought to Malta from France so that after specialized training they will not only be companions but also be able to help in the everyday lives of persons with disabilities, enabling them to lead a more independent life.

Besides being pets, Ilio and Yalta were selected to be sent to Malta for specific training and now they will go to Sicily for further training to help physically and mentally challenged persons. Service Dogs Foundation which brought the dogs to Malta will finance training estimated to cost €15,000. When training has been completed their temperament and character will have been assessed to indicate which persons they can benefit most.

Experienced trainers in this line Alan Kordowski and Becky McClintock have been brought to Malta to enable three Maltese persons to gain a similar experience to facilitate such training.

“The big thing is the temperament of the dogs. We have to ensure that dogs are calm and relaxed and that they are willing to take directions. You spend time building a relationship to build trust,” said Alan Kordowski.

Barley, Harley and Hope are three other dogs presently in Malta undergoing such training. Kordowski pointed out that such a process required time, patience and precision.

“Theoretically about a year and a half to two years, but it depends. It depends on the learning of the dog, the dogs are like us, they learn at different paces, some learn a lot quickly, some learn a little bit slower but it’s up to the trainer to help that dog start to learn that process,” continued Alan Kordowski.

Service Dogs Malta continuously works to ensure that the service of these dogs trained as valuable aides will be made available free of charge to those needing their services.