Local Lions supporting ‘dog guides’

Press Release

In the early 1980s, Lions clubs across Canada sought to develop a national project to reflect their service to Canadians with visual impairments.
The result was the Lions Foundation of Canada and its founding program, Canine Vision Canada, which was established in 1985.
Since then, the Foundation has grown to include additional dog guide programs (Hearing Ear, Service, Seizure Response, Autism Assistance, and the newly-introduced Diabetic Alert).
The Lions Foundation of Canada’s mission is to assist Canadians with a medical or physical disability by providing them with dog guides at no cost.
To do this, the Foundation operates Dog Guides Canada, a pre-eminent national training school and charity that assists individuals with disabilities through specialized dog guide programs.
These dog guides are provided at no cost to eligible Canadians from coast to coast despite costing $25,000 to train and place.
The Foundation relies on donations from individuals, service clubs, foundations, and corporations, and does not receive any government funding.
Now the largest school of its kind in Canada, the Lions Foundation of Canada dog guides’ head office is located in Oakville, Ont. and has a breeding and training facility in Breslau, Ont.
There are literally hundreds of success stories but one that stands out is Nancy and her dog, “Lolly.”
Nancy describes living with Type 1 diabetes with hypoglycemic unawareness as “very complicated.” Normally, a person with diabetes will exhibit warning symptoms when blood sugar levels decrease-the usual markers include sweating, shaking, or drowsiness.
But with hypoglycemic unawareness, those symptoms are absent, meaning Nancy is at risk of the potentially life-threatening effects of her illness and so constantly must monitor her glucose levels.
“A couple of times, I’ve had to go to emergency in an ambulance,” says the Quebec resident, whose young daughter was tasked the first time with making the life-saving phone call.
“I thought to myself, ‘This is too much responsibility for my daughter to take on.'”
Through a television news broadcast, Nancy learned that dogs were being trained to alert to diabetic “lows,” and she began the application process to receive a dog guide through the Lions Foundation.
Earlier this year, she was matched with “Lolly,” a yellow Labrador retriever trained to detect diabetic lows through scent.
When a low is detected, Lolly fetches a bag containing an insulin kit and a bottle of juice–the vital items needed for Nancy to test her glucose levels and get them back under control.
“Lolly” also will bark, alerting anyone in the home or if out in public, anyone in the vicinity, to Nancy’s distress before it’s too late.
“Having ‘Lolly’ has been a break for the entire family,” Nancy says. “We’re all less nervous so my quality of life is much better.”
If you know of someone who could use a dog, or you would like to donate, contact a member of one of the Lions clubs in the district.
Better still, consider joining a Lions club near you!