Many families know the joy of a four-legged, tail-wagging family member, but for Lisa Colombo and her son Matthew, their dog Cash has brought a special kind of love to their home.
With the family just over a year, Cash is a dog trained through the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides program to help children with autism. Colombo said the dog provides Matthew with a calming and consistent influence during stressful situations, as well as keeping him safe, even going so far as to hold Matthew down so he doesn’t hurt himself during a meltdown.
“Cash enables Matthew to move out of our home and into the community,” she said.
Knowing the importance of Cash in their life, the Colombos will be participating in the upcoming Lions Foundation of Canada Purina Walk for Guide Dogs on May 29. The Woolwich Lions will be hosting the walk on the Kissing Bridge Trail, starting on Arthur Street North and continuing in a five-kilometre loop.
All proceeds will be going to the Dog Guide programs run by the Lions, of which there are five types.
In addition to autism-assist dogs the Lions also train dogs to assist individuals needing assistance with vision, hearing, special skills and seizures. Each dog costs about $20,000 to raise and train.
Lions member Nancy Booth is coordinating the seventh Woolwich walk. In the first six years the Woolwich Community Lions have raised more than $37,000 for the foundation.
“It’s so rewarding, especially now that we know someone who has a dog,” she said. “It’s totally changed their life.”
The Lions will be providing prizes and refreshments at the walk, including hot dogs for both the two-legged and four-legged participants. Participants can register early online or at 8 a.m. the day of the walk.