Guide dog walk to be bigger

As part of a national fundraising campaign, the Voyageur Lions and the Fort High Leo Club are planning a “Purina Walk for Dog Guides” here for a second year.
But with Wal-Mart on board as a partner this time around, the fundraiser, slated for Sunday, June 3, is promising to be even better.
“It’s very exciting,” said Voyageur Lions Club president Val Martindale, adding the local group only recently learned of the partnership with Wal-Mart.
Some 129 dog walk locations across Canada have partnered with Wal-Mart and this will bring several new aspects to the national fundraiser, including the one here.
For instance, during the month of May, all Wal-Mart store cashiers will be selling Lions Foundation of Canada Purina Walk for Dog Guides logos for $1 each, with all proceeds going to the cause.
Wal-Mart also will have dog walk donation forms available in their pet food aisle to promote the walk.
On May 12-13, Wal-Mart will hold a barbecue in front of their store, with proceeds going to the dog walk.
As well, in partnership with Purina, $1 from the sale of every eight-kg bag of Purina Dog Chow during the month of May will be donated to the Lions Foundation of Canada Purina Walk for Dog Guides.
A cheque of the funds raised will be presented to walk organizers on June 3.
While there’s still more than two months to go, organizers are focusing on getting people to register, collect pledges prior to the walk, and then come out with their four-legged friends that Sunday.
Fort High teacher Kendall Richardson, who also is the advisor for the Leo Club, said she’s looking forward to taking the reins from Martindale and helping students organize another successful dog walk, which is their final Leo Club project for the 2006-07 year.
“Last year, they raised enough money to pay for half a guide dog,” she noted. “We do have people in the community that will be eligible for one at some point, so the Foundation could help provide them with one.”
Last year’s dog guide walk here raised about $1,200.
“We were very pleased for our first time out,” said Martindale. “And of course, we’re looking to raise more this time out.”
Richardson added the Leo and Lions clubs’ two major causes are vision care and diabetes, and the dog guide initiative falls into that mandate.
The local walk will start at 1 p.m. at Pither’s Point, proceed to the Sorting Gap Marina, and then head back.
There will be refreshments and lunch for participants afterwards, as well as contests for dogs and their owners.
Those who want to participate in the walk can register online at www.purinawalkfordogguides.com
Participants will get pledges prior to the walk, then will be eligible for prizes such as shirts and hats depending how much money they bring in.
Pledges also can be made online at www.purinawalkfordogguides.com
Any pledges over $20 will get a tax receipt.
All of the proceeds from the walk will go to the national Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides program.
Funding for dog guide training is 100 percent obtained from donations and no government funding is received. Dog Guides Canada already has provided their specially-trained dog guides to more than 1,200 men, women, and children.
All dog guides are provided to eligible candidates at no cost.
Dog guides help the blind, hearing-impaired, and those with other physical disabilities (like people in wheelchairs). They are trained to aid them in their daily lives and get help for them if a problem arises.
A dog guide means increased mobility, safety, and independence to people who have lived with a disability for a long time or whose lives suddenly have changed due to an accident or illness.
The Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides has been serving Canadians with disabilities since 1983. It raises most of its puppies and places them in foster homes for their first year.
Once mature, the dogs are selected and trained for six-eight months, which then is followed by recipients staying at the Foundation for two-four weeks to be matched and learn how to work with their new dog guide partners.
All of the formal training, residences, and administration are based in the Foundation’s Oakville, Ont. headquarters. There also are puppy and training facilities in Breslau, Ont.
It takes time—and money—to raise, train, and place a highly-skilled dog guide.
From learning basic house manners to honing the skills required of them in service can take up to two years and cost as much as $25,000.

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