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Maltese trainer ready to return home after two years with Guide Dogs Victoria

Greg Gliddon, February 6, 2017 5:45PM Herald Sun

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AFTER two years learning how to train guide dogs, Luca Taliana is now ready to put his skills to the test in his homeland of Malta.

Mr Taliana has been learning to train guide dogs with the help of Guide Dogs Victoria at their Kew headquarters thanks to a program co-ordinated between the Victorian group and the Maltese Guide Dogs Foundation.

“I’ve always loved dogs, but in my country there is not a lot of opportunities to find employment with dogs,” Mr Taliana said.

“I contacted the Maltese Guide Dog Foundation and they put me in touch with the International Guide Dogs Foundation, because you needed to have certain qualifications in order to do the work.

“From there, the opportunity came up to learn in Australia.”

Mr Taliana said there had been a range of new techniques he had learned in his two years working with Guide Dogs Victoria tutor Ed Sullivan.

“The first thing I needed to do was to change what I knew about training methods and how to motivate* your dogs,” he said.

Luca Taliano at Guide Dogs Victoria with Avis, a 2-year-old qualified Labrador. Picture: Stuart Milligan media_cameraLuca Taliano at Guide Dogs Victoria with Avis, a 2-year-old qualified Labrador. Picture: Stuart Milligan

“There are different techniques which are more ethical* than dominating*, which is still often used to train around the world.”

He said the qualifications he has learned will give him an opportunity to train dogs from when they are born right through to when they are matched with a vision-impaired owner, allowing him to work as a mobility* instructor.

He added that, as far as he knew, he was the only person in Malta, which has a total population of about 450,000, who had such qualifications.

“It certainly will be a big job for one person, but I know we’ve built up some great friendships and connections here in Australia and if ever an opportunity exists another person to have the same training, I’m sure it can be looked at.”


motivate: provide someone with a reason for doing something

ethical: relating to your belief about what is right and wrong

dominating: have power or influence over

mobility: ability to move






Activity 1: KWL

Create your own KWL chart about guide dogs with these 3 column headings: Things I KNOW; Things I WANT to know; Things I have LEARNT.

Into column 1 write down two things you know about guide dogs – these could be things you knew already or have found out from the article. In column 2 write down two things you want to find out about guide dogs. Now perform some research to find out the answers to your questions and record what you have learnt in column 3.

Extension: Continue your research by finding out which breeds of dogs make the best guide dogs and what characteristics they have that make them the best choices.

Time: allow about 30 minutes to complete this task

Curriculum links: English

Activity 2: Animal Helpers

There are many ways in which animals help humans. On a piece of paper using one colour brainstorm a list of all the different ways in which animals already help humans. Now use a different colour to write down as many new ideas as you can come up with of ways for animals to help humans. Choose your favourite new idea to draw a sketch of and write a short paragraph explaining why you think it is a good idea.

Extension: Following on from the idea you drew your sketch of, think about the animal involved. Do you think your idea will also be of benefit to the animal? Why or why not?

Time: allow about 30 minutes to complete this task

Curriculum links: English, Critical and Creative Thinking

VCOP Activity

(Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation)

Activity 1: Punctuation Thief- Speech Marks

There is a lot of punctuation in this article, in particular speech marks. Make a tally of all the speech mark pairs in the article. Now, copy and paste the article text into word and remove all the speech marks. Swap seats with a partner and challenge them to replace all the speech mark pairs. Give them a hint by telling them the amount of pairs they have to replace.

Extension: Highlight all the punctuation associated with ONLY the speech in the article, this will include capitals, full stops, speech marks and commas required to mark the speech grammatically correct. Discuss with a partner if this is how you are using speech marks in your writing, or if you are missing punctuation and need to remember to add it in.

Time: allow at least 15 minutes to complete each task

Curriculum Links: English, Big Write & VCOP

Activity provided by Andrell Education


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