Meet Orlando Tivane – “The Dog Trainer”
It was during the Civil War in Mozambique (1975-1992) when Orlando Tivane decided to leave his parents’ house. Fed up with the fights between them and the misery, Orlando ended up in the streets of Maputo, just like hundreds of other children in the capital of Mozambique.
He there spent his days washing, fixing and watching cars. He also worked at the Central Market, helping the vendors carry their baskets. At night he slept in stairwells, sometimes on park benches.
In 1990, Orlando was gathered, together with 35 other boys, from the street by a team from the ADPP Children’s Town. The team had just begun their activities under the guidance of ADPP Mozambique. “I was so sick and tired of that life that when they mentioned that I would be able to study I immediately accepted to follow them!” exclaimed Orlando with emotion in his voice.
Today, at 35 years, Orlando seems like a person in peace with himself. Despite his calm and relaxed appearance, he shows a strong sense of entrepreneurship. He is one of the most popular dog trainers of Maputo and Matola, the two neighbouring cities that are also the two largest in the country in terms of inhabitants. Orlando takes pride in the wide range of his customers that vary from the former Prime Minister of Mozambique to several Ambassadors. Today there are more and more Mozambicans as well, he tells. “They like my work because I do it with my heart.”
Orlando has no problems in attracting clients. “They have all heard from me through the grapevine. My friends recommended me to clients with dogs and they have spread the word. I never had to advertise for my services,” Orlando explains with pride.
According to him, one of the reasons behind his success is the method he has created and which he calls “agility training”. The method consists of making the dogs jump hurdles and crawl through tunnels – all of this to the satisfaction of the owners.
Today, there is so much work that Orlando has decided to hire two assistants. He is already training them so that they can help in training the dogs. “I start working at 5h30 a.m. and finish almost always after 7 p.m. After that, I still go to the dog hotel I have recently opened,” he explains when asked about his daily schedule. The hotel is a place where the dog owners leave their pets while they are travelling.
When Orlando was 12 years old, he was called in by the Director of the Children’s Town. The Director convinced him to accept a very special task: to be the boarding school student responsible for the animals and the farm of the institution. “This is how it all started,” Orlando explains calmly. “I became the ’man’ responsible for the farmland and for taking care of the animals: the goats, the pork, the chicken, the ducks and rabbits. To add to my responsibilities, I began taking care of the German shepherd of the Director. This is when I fell in love with dogs and with the art of training them. And I have never stopped loving them.”
“The hardest thing in this business is dealing with many of the dog owners. The reason is very simple: people are very busy and have no time to participate in the parts of the training where they are needed. Many owners think that it’s enough that they pay me for the services to make their dogs perform the skills with them. But things do not work that way. I have to ‘invent' solutions, and even so, my students (the dogs) often do not do exactly what the owners expect them to.”
"The best thing in my work has been these wonderful years together with people from so many different origins, so many different nationalities and cultures, with such different opinions... I don’t expect the owners of my dog-students to only pay for my work, I also hope – and have often managed to – receive new ideas and acquire a better understanding of the world through our talks,” Orlando explains and goes on to tell an anecdote about a client, a retired former military officer, who asked him to train his dog to salute him every time he comes home. The man promised to pay Orlando the equivalent of 3 fees if he succeeded in teaching the trick.
“I know where I come from and I cannot forget it,” Orlando repeated several times during the conversation. According to him, “the Children’s Town made me more mature, made me take on responsibilities. In short, it made me into the person I am today. Without the Children’s Town I would have never studied nor had access to the knowledge that has enabled me to grow in life.”
As a way to thank for the opportunities he has received, Orlando still goes back to the Children’s Town on a regular basis to talk to the inmates of today. It is the “Dog Show in favour of Street Children” that most excites him, however. Once a year, Orlando organizes a show with the team of dogs he trains at the Parque dos Continuadores Park in the heart of the city. During the show, he and the owners of the dogs distribute meals to tens of street children. The audience is also invited to bring clothes and shoes that can be distributed at the end to the children who still live in the streets.
“There are less street children today than during my time, but as long as there are children living in the streets I will continue this initiative,” says Orlando with determination.
Study! Orlando Tivane has no doubts about the advice he would like to give to all young people of today. “Studying is the magic word I learned at the Children’s Town. It is very important because the challenges of today are so big that we all have the duty to study as much as we can. And fight, because we need to win something in life and without fighting it is not possible.”
Orlando says that this is also the message he passes on to his 3 daughters aged 12, 8 and 5. “My daughters have a much better life than what I had when I was young. But, strange as it may seem, I have a feeling that they will have to fight even more than me because the times are now much more demanding!” he concluded.