Credit for both pics: Funda Nenja

The first recorded use of the phrase: “man’s best friend”, was made by Frederick the Great, King of Prussia (1740-1786). Frederick referred to one of his Italian Greyhounds as his best friend.

Dogs have been used for years, not only as your furry companion, but to help people with detective and security work, as well. Using their incredible sense of smell and the right training, they could pin point the exact location and find the exact item being looked for.

Some examples where dogs are used, are: In airports for bomb and drug detection, to help search and rescue teams, at schools to search students’ bags and lockers to keep the students safe, for extra security at banks or to protect livestock on farms.

Credit for both pics: Creative Commons.

Theft, vandalism, and even violence can all be prevented with a properly trained and healthy guard dog – both in the workplace, as well as at home.

Dogs bark loudly to alert their owners of an intruder’s presence and to scare away the intruder, and bigger dogs are capable of attacking, or, with proper training, are able to restrain the intruder. This is especially helpful in communities like Mpophomeni, where the high unemployment rate is a cause for a high crime rate.

According to, the seven best dogs to use as guard dogs for you and your family, are:

    • Bernese Mountain Dog
    • Boxer
    • Bullmastiff
    • Doberman Pinscher
    • German Shepherd
    • Great Dane
    • Rottweiler

These breeds are loyal, obedient, loving, protective, instinctive, intelligent and courageous. And, among other breeds, can even be used as service dogs.

But please keep in mind that the correct and proper training is necessary.

This, however, not only benefits you and your family, but keeps your neighbours and neighbourhood safe, too. If you are not at home for the weekend, your barking dog can alert neighbours of any suspicious activity, and your neighbours can get the relevant authorities involved.

Credit for both pics: Creative Commons.

Your dog has so many more benefits than this, though. According to, “a puppy a day keeps the doctor away”.

“It seems like the organisations’ initiatives fit into animal-assisted activities, which have been successful when working with children experiencing trauma. In our South African context, socio-economic deprivation often places emotional, physical and financial strain on family systems, and the quality of care parents are able to provide their children. The wider context also exposes them to social adversity, crime etc,” says Clinical Psychologist, Donita Rodrigues.

Credit for both pics: Funda Nenja

Rodrigues says: “Therapeutic treatments for therapy, particularly those developed by Judith Herman and Babette Rothschild, begin with the therapeutic task of establishing and regaining a sense of safety.

“The role of animals, who by nature provide unconditional positive regard, and non-threatening interactions with their owner, may offer a reparative experience for children by also developing their sense of control over their environment through their training of their dog in a caring, and empathic way.

“Their dogs’ non-judgmental nature, capacity to attune to their owner non-verbally, capacity to provide physical protection, and a sense of emotional safety, may all contribute to a corrective relational experience for children who have experienced adversity (bullying, social exclusion, loss, death, deprivation),” Rodrigues adds.

Credit for both pics: Funda Nenja

“Children from vulnerable or challenging life circumstances benefit in a number of psychosocial ways through dog ownership… These benefits are the experience and development of psychological, emotional and social support,” says Georgina Drummond (B SocSci Hon, UKZN 2013), who wrote about the psychosocial perspective on children’s experiences of dog ownership in the Mpophomeni Township of KwaZulu-Natal.

In 2009, Adrienne Olivier visited Mpophomeni and discovered that the community needed help in understanding and caring for dogs.

She started the dog school, an activity where the children from the community came on a Friday afternoon with their dog to learn how to teach the dog basic obedience.

An NGO called Funda Nenja was born.

Credit for both pics: Funda Nenja

“The aim of the organisation is to teach children to become more caring, responsible and compassionate individuals using the dog to emphasise the love and loyalty received and to cultivate a bond in order to promote the same compassionate treatment of animals and ultimately for all living beings,” says Sandra Naidoo, Program Administrator for Funda Nenja.

Funda Nenja roughly translates from isiZulu to mean “learning with a dog”.

Credit for both pics: Funda Nenja

OurHood is driven by the belief that by bringing residents together, we can help to build stronger, safer, more inclusive communities. Funda Nenja shares this passion and believes that involving the community and community role players in their program brings the Mpophomeni community together.

Credit for both pics: Funda Nenja

“By addressing the needs of families, via our Family Support Program, issues such as child abuse, substance abuse and the related matters have been dealt with.  The teachers at local schools (also) take advantage of the services, which assist them with psychosocial issues which they experience in the classroom.”

“We believe that the values of kindness, respect and compassion are nurtured through the practical element of the program which develops an affectionate bond between children and dogs. By changing children’s attitudes and emotional response towards their dogs we are investing in the future and not just applying a “band-aid” approach to animal welfare. These children will become agents of change and role models of responsible, caring dog owners in their communities.”

Credit for both pics: Funda Nenja

 The community of Mpophomeni struggles with unemployment and other social ills, such as drug abuse. (Therefore,) we want to highlight the benefits of owning a dog, and at the same time we need to try and ensure that dogs go to homes where owners are willing to put in an effort to care and be responsible,” Naidoo explains.

Credit for both pics: Funda Nenja

The dogs also regularly receive treatment for ticks and fleas, are dewormed, and are treated for wounds and infections. Any dogs needing treatment for more serious conditions are referred to the SPCA clinic.

Kennels, collars and leashes are all sold to program participants for an affordable sum and the regular new intake of dogs are each issued with a free food bowl and blanket. In addition, Funda Nenja’s annual blanket drive allows them to supply every dog attending classes with a warm new blanket at the beginning of winter. Funda Nenja tries to avoid a culture of handouts, but rather strives to educate dog owners’ that dog ownership goes hand in hand with being responsible.

Credit for both pics: Funda Nenja

OurHood asked Naidoo if there has been a specific memory/situation that stood out for her/touched her most. “The most recent incident that stood out for me was when a young boy came running up to me with a dog, which clearly just had puppies.  He was not on the program as yet and I explained that there are certain dates for new entrants.

“He told me that he was informed of the procedure the previous week, however, he had walked a long distance with his dog because she needed to feed her pups and he did not have any food for her.” Naidoo explains that although many of the township children do not understand a lot about dogs, Funda Nenja highlights the point that, with education, children can begin to develop a caring attitude toward animals.

Credit for both pics: Funda Nenja

Funda Nenja is hosting an art exhibition and Gala Dinner on Saturday, the 28th of July, where they will be auctioning artwork (such as the paintings in the pictures below) in order to raise money for the organisation.

The Gala Dinner and auction will be at 18:00 for 18:30, and tickets are a mere R300,00 per person.

Artwork will be for sale at the Fern Hill Hotel in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, from 10:00 – 16:00 on the same day.

For more information, contact Lisa (at Funda Nenja), at: [email protected]

Credit for both pics: Funda Nenja

It takes a small gesture to make a huge difference in your community. Recently, 2 companies; New Frontier Tours and DNC Business Solutions Pty Ltd, both Funda Nenja supporters, donated some beanies to the Funda Nenja children, just in time for Winter. They even organised that the beanies had the Funda Nenja logo on them.

Credit for both pics: Funda Nenja

OurHood hopes this post will inspire you to do something to uplift your community.

Mandela Day, the 18th of July, is the perfect opportunity to offer just 67 minutes of your time, doing something that might be small to you, but can make an immense difference in someone else’s life.

Pic credit: Creative Commons

Visit Funda Nenja’s website and social media pages.
Facebook: @fundanenja
Instagram: @fundanenja

SMS “Donate FN” to 40580 to donate R20 to Funda Nenja to show your support.