There’s plenty of opportunity to get your fill of wagging tails and happy puppy smiles this spring with two upcoming walks raising funds for dog guides in the community.
The Floradale Friends of Dog Guides Branch Lions Club and the Ariss and Maryhill Lions Club are both hosting walks for dog guides this year. Both are participating in the Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides, which is a national event to raise funds to raise and train dog guides for those in need of them.
The Floradale Friends of Dog Guides walk is four kilometres and launches at 11 a.m. on May 28 at the Kissing Bridge Trail from the parking lot at 20B Arthur St. N. Volunteers will be available to register walkers until 1 p.m. Walkers do not need to walk the entire four kilometres.
The Ariss and Maryhill Lions Club is making a community event day out of their walk on June 24. People can register and meet at the Maryhill Community Centre starting at 10 a.m. The group walk launches at 10:30 a.m. The walk will be about 45 minutes and span about three kilometers through Maryhill.
Afterward there will be a community barbecue with hotdogs and hamburgers available for the walkers, and also for purchase by the community. There will be pickleball training for people ages 10 and up, as well as crafts and face painting. The fire department will be there and some foster dogs as well. The event will be ongoing until 3 p.m.
Funds raised from both walks will go toward the raising and training of dog guides at the Breslau and Oakville facilities.
Both groups have hosted walks for many years.
The Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides is the largest fundraiser of the year for dog guides. The Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides provide service dogs for Canadians with disabilities, and it costs $35,000 to raise, train and place each one, says Ray Bolton of the Ariss and Maryhill Lions.
Deb Cserhalmi of the Floradale Friends of Dog Guides Branch Lions Club says there are seven different programs offered.
That includes canine vision to help those with vision loss, hearing dogs to help people with loss of hearing, service dogs to help people with physical disabilities, seizure response dogs provide safety for people who have seizures, other dogs are used by diabetics who are hypoglycemic unaware and have no ability to detect when their blood level drops by detecting low sugars levels.
Autism awareness dogs help children on the autism spectrum control their emotions. These dogs can also help with children who bolt, says Cserhalmi. “The child is tethered to the dog and if the child bolts, a caregiver gives a command and the dog drops to the ground making it hard for the child to drag the dog.” Facility support dogs are for professional agencies that help people in traumatic situations.
“Our Lions branch club, the Floradale Friends of Dog Guides, has great support in the area. People understand that people with disabilities are greatly impacted by having a dog. They not only provide the service they are taught to do; they also provide independence, confidence and a best friend. Families are also impacted by the dogs; no need to check in for blood tests or someone oversleeping because they didn’t hear an alarm,” she said.
“From genetic testing of the parents, to food and vet care being provided until graduation to availability of the trainers after graduation our dogs are so well-cared for. The dogs are matched to their new handlers based on the handlers’ needs; it’s just not the next dog that’s ready to go,” she said.
To register for the Elmira Walk with the Floradale Friends of Dog Guides ahead of time or donate to the cause, visit walkfordogguides.com and find the walk location, Elmira. To register for the Maryhill and Ariss walk ahead of time or to donate, visit the same website and find the Maryhill location.
“We’re trying to raise some funds for the guide dogs and have a little bit of fun,” said Bolton.