By Lyonel Doherty
Oliver dog owners are being asked to give a few Canadians a new “leash on life” on May 28.
That’s when the Oliver Lions Club is hosting the annual Walk for Dog Guides in Lion’s Park.
Joanne Bray addressed Town council recently to talk about the event, which hasn’t seen much success in Oliver over the last few years. But she’s hoping this year will be different.
“I see hundreds of dogs in Oliver every day,” Bray said, noting that in the 11 years she has been organizing this event, she hasn’t broken the $3,000 fundraising threshold.
“If I said there was wine there, there would be a lot of people, which is sad.”
Bray expressed her passion for the cause, which involves raising money to train dog guides that help people who are blind, deaf, disabled, diabetic, autistic and prone to seizures. It costs $25,000 to train a guide dog.
It’s amazing what some of these dogs can do. For example, a diabetic alert dog can detect sudden drops in their handler’s blood sugar through scent. If this happens, the dog can alert the handler to ingest something sweet to avoid a diabetic episode.
A seizure response dog can help people who suffer from epilepsy. The dog can activate an alert system or start barking for help.
Elmer of Victoria was matched with hearing ear dog, Gordie
“The first time I met Gordie, I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I teared up. Gordie licked the tears away,” Elmer says. “I knew then that this was going to be an incredible partnership filled with purpose, and that even without wearing my hearing aids, I was safe and could be at peace knowing that Gordie was listening for me.”
Bray said the May 28 event, sponsored by Pet Valu, is a fun family outing that doesn’t require a dog to participate.
“You can put a leash on (councillor) Jack Bennest and take him for a walk,” she joked.
Or people can just sit in the park and donate what they can.
People are asked to fill out a pledge form to raise a bit of money for the cause. Forms can be picked up at Sundance Video and Crucetti’s Restaurant.
Event registration begins at 9 am, with the walk starting at 9:30 am.
Lions Foundation of Canada is a national charity whose mission is to assist Canadians with a medical or physical disability by providing them guide dogs at no cost. Its founding program, Canine Vision Canada, was established in 1985 to assist Canadians with visual impairments. Since then, the organization has added dog guide programs that include hearing ear, service, seizure response, autism assistance, and diabetic alert. To date, more than 2,600 dog guides have been placed with individuals across Canada.