The 12th-annual “Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides,” organized by the Fort Frances Voyageur Lions Club, raised $1,000.04 on Sunday.
The local event saw a small but dedicated group of nine pooches and 15 people walk from the Sorting Gap Marina to the base of the overpass, where a rest station was set up for dogs to get a drink, cool off in a pool, and eat a treat.
The group then headed back to the marina–only to get rained on from a sudden downpour during the return trip.
Even so, it didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits.
“There was a lot more participation this year than last year,” noted club president Gaby Hanzuk, who admitted the event has seen uneven participation in recent years and that she’ll make sure it is promoted better next year.
As in past years, the purpose of the walk is to raise money for the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides training school in Oakville, Ont.
This school is the only one in North America that trains dogs to assist with vision, hearing, special skills, seizure response, and autism.
Dog guides are provided at no cost to people with a physical or medical disability.
“But the walk is not just about raising funds, it’s about raising awareness,” Hanzuk stressed.
“We had five people come this year that are brand new,” she added. “That’s always really, really good.
“That’s five more people that know abut the guide dogs, what they do, and where the money goes for training.
“A 100 percent goes to training,” Hanzuk noted. “All of this money raised doesn’t go to anything other than the training of the dogs.”
The event also continues to see generous support from local businesses, namely the Nor-West Animal Clinic, Canada Safeway, and 4 Your Pets, all of which donated prizes and supplies for the dog walk.
All participants received grab bags while the top pledge-getters earned prizes.
The top fundraiser was 11-year-old Emily Jerry, who collected $250 in pledges.
4 Your Pets owner Pam Williams said she’s been supporting the dog walk for the past four years–not only as a sponsor but a participant, too.
“The Lions’ dog walk is a great way to socialize your dog, as well as meet some pretty interesting people,” she told the Times.
“Everyone who owns a dog has to walk them so once a year, why not walk them with a lot of other dogs and owners, and help our local Lions club raise money for a good cause?” she reasoned.
“I always enjoy talking to the other dog owners and walking with them–even in the rain,” added Williams.
She and her family also set up the midway watering station for both the owners and their dogs.
“There is always a kiddie pool for the dogs to play in, bowls of water for them to have a drink, and, of course some kind of treat for them,” Williams noted.
“We also supply some lawn chairs and water for the owners.”