Back from Guide Dog Mobility Instructor course in Australia

Created on: 6 March 2017

Luca Taliana returned last week from Melbourne, Australia, after he successfully completed a two-year course, on behalf of the Malta Guide Dogs Foundation, at Guide Dogs Victoria, qualifying as a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor and Orientation and Mobility Specialist.
One of the several dogs Mr Taliana trained in Melbourne, Zara, was also on a separate flight this week and will be matched with a local guide dog user.
Mr Taliana was hosted in Melbourne by the Maltese Community Council of Australia.
Guide Dogs Victoria, which is accredited by the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) as a guide dog training school, had words of praise for his successful completion of the programme. This consisted of both theory and practice in puppy raising, guide dog assessment and training, and finally client and guide dog training.
The biggest challenge Mr Taliana said he had to overcome was having to accept new ideas on how to train guide dogs, which were different to what he applied prior to embarking on the training but, in the end, were highly effective. He has the satisfaction of knowing that, of the dogs he trained, two were sent to Japan.
Among his goals on his return to Malta are to change the way the Maltese look on guide dog training, oversee the current batch of MGDF puppies until their training proper begins, and cater for the needs of the current group of 12 guide dog owners.
Leone Sciberras, Chairman of the Malta Guide Dogs Foundation, expressed satisfaction at Mr Taliana’s achievement: “We had great faith in the abilities of Luca, when we committed to arrange for his training at Guide Dogs Victoria, and that faith has been fully justified.”
Mr Sciberras visited Mr Taliana and Guide Dogs Victoria on September 2015, accompanied by MGDF Hon. Secretary Lilibeth Cachia, to witness the progress being achieved.
“We congratulate him on his achievement and thank all those who contributed, foremost among which are the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), who covered his travel expenses, subsistence allowance and other expenses while in Australia, the cost of the guide dog Zara and her travel expenses,” Mr Sciberras said, adding:
“We very much look forward to working with Luca within the Foundation to provide better and more localised services to those who wish to obtain a guide dog in Malta and Gozo, go through the training required and look after the current group of guide dog users.”
Photo caption: Luca Taliana with the guide dog he trained, Zara, who also arrived this week from Australia being greeted at the airport by Malta Guide Dogs Foundation Chairman Leone Sciberras and Orientation and Mobility Instructor/Puppy Supervisor Dr Rita Criminal