The last Sunday in May is always a special day, particularly if you have a dog. It is the annual Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides, where money is raised to help disabled individuals lead better lives.
I was again honoured to be the emcee at this year's event, and I must tell you it was just a fantastic day. More than 175 people came out, with at least 110, extremely well behaved, furry friends.
This year marks the sixth annual Walk for Dog Guides, sponsored by Pet Valu, in north Durham. If their goal of $35,000 is met, the group will have raised just shy of $145,000, in six short years.
Dog guides assist people with various tasks of everyday life. They are trained to respond to telephone ringing and door bells, changes in body temperatures of people with illnesses, and helping people cope with what many of us take for granted.
Individuals with Autism benefit particularly well, with a dog guide. Tasks such as, simply having a friend to cuddle, or gaining self-confidence when out in public, as well as being there for life saving happenings.
Several breeds of dogs are chosen, because of temperament, personality and an ability to learn quickly. The breeding facility, in Oakville, raises the puppies, and instils basic training instincts. Then they go to foster homes for a year or so, and after more training, are matched with a forever owner.
The potential, new owner, is then brought to the facility where they spend, what could amount to a few weeks, working with their dog. During this period, trainers determine the fit and the ability of the dog, to look after the owner.
The total cost for one dog is around $35,000, which is why this fundraising walk is such a great event. Few people could afford their own dog, but the positive addition the pets make in the lives of disabled people, is immense.
The walk is once a year, but donations are accepted and needed, all the time. If you find it in your hearts to help someone less fortunate, consider the dog guides as a cause you can get behind.
Visit the website at: walkfordogguides.com.
Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube.