She is passionate, fearless and committed. She is the voice for less-privileged kids and dogs alike.
Contagious in her zeal to teach children in Atlantis kindness, empathy and respect, Yvonna Hertog is a one-woman crusader with her training school, Clever Kids Smart Dogs (CKSD). Her premise is based on the teachings of Pythagoras: “Educate the children and it won’t be necessary to punish the men.”
The initiative started six years ago when she was given a bakkie-load of dog food. Deciding to do some good, she drove to Atlantis and started distributing the food. “I was horrified to see such a large number of starving, mange-ridden dogs, dozens of puppies and the sheer neglect of these animals. Obviously, sterilisation was the biggest need.
“After contacting several rescue organisations, the only one that responded was TEARS in Fish Hoek. And my word, what a job they did in taking 50 dogs at a time to be neutered or spayed.
“That’s when I decided to use dogs as tools to educate children aged 6 – 14 about respecting animals and taking care of them. They in turn can take these teachings into their community.”
At CKSD, she teaches the ABC of pet ownership, known as the Canine Good Citizen Bronze Level: respecting animals, the necessity for sterilisation, vaccinations, that dogs need a house and warm bed, two meals a day, daily walks and so forth. The fun part starts when they’re taught to train their dogs.
For months on end Yvonna did this work – even when there was no money for petrol or dog food. “But, determined to succeed, I battled on.”
Having always used logs and whatever she could lay her hands on for agility training, she was over the moon when Karen van Rosenveld recently donated a trailer full of second-hand agility equipment. “And boy oh boy, the children and dogs took to agility parkour like fish to water in this great trust-building exercise.”
CKSD also presents various workshops and talks. Among these have been: making leashes, demos by the SAPS canine unit, talks by SPCA inspectors on how to become an inspector, reporting cruelty and neglect of animals, pitbulls and dog fighting.
Volunteers have played a big role in the school over the years with new ideas, planning and inspiration. Unfortunately, they don’t stay forever.
As a former horse riding school instructor, Yvonna has a passion for teaching. “I tell the kids: what I teach you, nobody can ever take from you. And hopefully my lessons will remain with them throughout adulthood.”
The other side of her life revolves around a 9 ha property in Dassenberg where she rents out several houses. This astute planning enabled her to ‘retire’ as it were at age 60. But animals also rule the roost here. She’s mom to 12 rescue dogs, five horses, turkeys, chicken and an ostrich called Stretch.
To relax, I read
My sport is horse riding & carriage driving
Favourite West Coast place is Yzerfontein
I love eating pizza and seafood
My signature drink is white wine
I read books on blood, guts, murder & mayhem
CKSD is a registered NPO (no 220-367). They desperately need donations – from dog food & bowls to beds, dog jackets, collars & leashes. Contact Yvonna: 072 3757022, email@example.com.