Walk in support of dog guides this Sunday


By Barb McKay

On Sunday, bring out your four-legged best friend and join the Kincardine Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides.

Kincardine’s walk will be held at the Davidson Centre and is one of more than 240 taking place across Canada. Proceeds from the walk go towards raising, training and placing service dogs with Canadians who have a medical or physical disability. Funds are also used to train the new handlers who receive the dog guides.

This is the third year for the walk in Kincardine, which is being organized by Helen Gitterand the Kincardine and District Lions Club and sponsored by Kincardine Pet Valu. All the funds raised by each walker will go directly towards the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides six dog guide programs, which include canine vision dog guides for people who are blind or visually impaired, hearing ear dog guides for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, service dog guides for people with a physical disability, seizure response dog guides for people who have epilepsy, autism assistance dog guides for children on the autism spectrum and diabetic alert dog guides for people who have type 1 diabetes with hypoglycemic unawareness.

“These dogs do amazing things,” Gitter said. “I’m not overstating my case when I say they save lives.”

Diabetic alert dog guides, for example, can alert individuals with diabetes or their caregivers if their blood sugar level has dropped by sensing a change in breathing, potentially saving that person from slipping into a diabetic coma.

The Lions Foundation of Canada provides dog guides to qualifying applicants free of charge and relies on donations and fundraising as the foundation does not receive government funding. Each dog guide costs approximately $25,000.

Last year, 44 people and 22 dogs took part in the walk and raised nearly $7,000.

“We had a great time last year and I’m sure we will this year,” Gitter said.

Mary Jane Edisbury is a client with Community Living Kincardine and District and is visually-impaired. This will be her second consecutive year taking part in the walk.

“Last year was fun,” she said. “I wanted to do it again because I like dogs.”

So far, Edisbury has raised $255 for this year’s event.

Kincardine’s Pet Value Walk for Dog Guides kicks off at 1 p.m. The walk will be led off by a piper and participants, with or without a dog, can walk laps around the outdoor track or use the trails behind the Davidson Centre. An autism assistance dog will take part in this year’s walk, which is open to all canines. The Lions Club will provide a barbeque lunch following the walk. To register, visit www.walkfordogguides.com.