Our founder, Lucy Breytenbach is a qualified Canine Behaviour Practitioner with a BSc (Hons) in Animal Science, Behaviour and Welfare from the University of Plymouth, United Kingdom. With a Practitioners level qualification in Canine Behaviour from The Ethology Academy and over 10 years of experience training dogs, Lucy started one of Cape Town’s top canine behaviour companies “Just Dogs Behaviour Pty” in 2013. www.justdogsbehaviour.co.za
In 2014, she was asked if she could train a Diabetic Alert Dog for Duncan, of the Smuts family. Confused at the time she did some research into service dog training within South Africa and was surprised to find that this type (among many others) of service dog simply did not exist. After further research she discovered that it can cost anywhere between R200,000 and R400,000 to obtain a service dog from overseas! Not to mention the months of time needed away from work and home to travel when obtaining the service dog. Another worry for the family was that there would be minimal support upon returning to SA if they ever had problems with the maintenance training of their service dog.
Making it Happen
Our founder Lucy then decided that it had to be done, and it had to be done properly! So she set to work with the help of her fabulous team at Just Dogs Behaviour, and started fundraising to get herself qualified, and to fly in help to set up the program. With the assistance and expertise of world renowned dog behaviourist Debby Kay from West Virginia USA, Lucy set to work creating a training program for Diabetic Alert Dogs.
The family had rescued a beautiful golden retriever named Honey. We found this name fitting given the sugar tracking nature of her career to be! Being the first Diabetic Alert Dog to be trained within SA, Honey was the inspiration behind the name for our training facility “Honey’s Garden”. With the many lessons learnt from training Honey, we are where we are today. After 2 years, Honey now consistently alerts her owner Duncan to low blood sugar levels, attends school and sports with him, and is a valued part of their family team.
In the News
Word spread quickly about what we were doing for the Smuts family and it wasn’t long before Honey, Duncan and Lucy were making appearances in various TV news programs, magazines and newspapers around the country! (See our media page for these articles and videos). This made other people aware of what we were now able to do within SA. Honey’s Garden was formed, and the plan was about to jump into action!
Adopt Don’t Shop
But we needed dogs. Good dogs. Reliable dogs. Working dogs. We decided to search in the welfare field and see if we could save the life of a homeless dog in need, and turn their path around completely. It would be a second chance for them to help others, and gain a fantastic home as a result. We tried and tested the dogs stringently to ensure that they would make the best service dogs possible. Animal Anti Cruelty League, Sighthound Rescue, DAISY Animal Trust and a few reputable breeders who wanted to donate puppies to the program were among the first places we searched through for those diamonds in the rough. And wow didn’t we find the diamonds!
Growing a Garden
With our group of oddballs (we choose our dogs based on personality, not breed) we were ready to go. Using the base of Just Dogs Behaviour at Leadville Dog Park in Sunningdale was brilliant for a while, but we soon needed a facility of our own to spread our roots and grow the garden we envisioned. And boy did we work hard! We transformed our farm into a workable space all by ourselves with the financial help of our incredible “suppawters”, and are very happy and proud of what we have achieved so far. Although it still needs a lot of work!
Check out the Building fund page to see how you can help grow our facility.
Honey’s Garden continues to grow with the help of Just Dogs Behaviour, our local vet “Duynevet” and our loyal supporters and followers. We host regular public events to fundraise for the training of our dogs that would not be possible without our public support. (Check out the events page or our facebook page for more info.)
We have expanded our knowledge into other types of service dogs so that we can help more people within South Africa.
(Check out our service dog page to see what types of dogs we are able to train.)
Our current trained service dogs are now all assisting their families in more ways than we could imagine and constantly going beyond the borders of their training for their special people, we are so proud of them and how far they have come! As many say, “From ZERO to HERO”
(Check out our testimonies page to see what our dogs are doing.)
We love what we do and are passionate about making this obtainable for more people, and giving children and adults more independence and confidence in their day to day lives. We love the people we help, and really love watching them grow with the assistance of our dogs.
Honeys Garden is a nonprofit, 2016/387235/08 organization whose mission is to place quality service dogs with people within South Africa who are under privileged, fighting with disabilities or diseases, and veterans who have lost use of limbs or hearing. We also help with animal rescue, and educate the public regarding use of service dogs in public places.