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'Walk for Dog Guides' slated Sunday

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If Fido and Spot are getting restless this week, there's a “paw-some” opportunity coming up to get them out and active while at the same time helping someone in need.

The Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides, held in support of the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guide program, is ready to run this Sunday at the Sorting Gap Marina.

Voyageur Lion Gaby Hanzuk said the walk is a fundraising event that offers a fun day in support of a great cause.

“The money that we raise, 100% of it goes to train working dogs,” Hanzuk said.

She also added that anyone who's interested in taking part can do so, even without a dog.

“All people have to do is put a $20 donation onto the pledge form and they can come and walk,” Hanzuk explained.

“You don't need a dog to do this; this is not about walking your dog, this is about raising money to support the Dog Guides of Canada.”

The Dog Guide program raises and trains dogs to act as supporters for people with disabilities. There are several different training programs that produce dogs with different specialties, including canine vision, or seeing-eye dogs, as well as hearing, seizure response, autism assistance, diabetic alert, and service dogs.

“They also added a new one, support dog, into their program,” Hanzuk said.

“That basically covers a whole pile of things, everything from physical disability to mental disability.”

Hanzuk shared that raising funds for the Dog Guides program is important, as it costs money not only to train new dogs, but to train their future owners as well. Anyone who successfully applies for a guide dog travels to Oakville to take part in a two-week training session with their new partner.

“It costs $25,000 per dog,” Hanzuk explained.

“But that also includes, for example, if there's somebody in Fort Frances who is blind and applies for a dog, and the application goes through, then they're down there training with the dog. It's all covered, so half of the money goes to when the person who's receiving the dog gets down there, plus the trainers, so all-in-all it's expensive.”

But Hanzuk said that the benefits of people receiving their support dog is worth the costs involved.

“It really does give some people a lot of freedom, especially the autistic children,” she said.

“I saw it first hand at one of our mid-winter conferences. There was a young boy that came with his dog and he is calm, he can live a reasonably normal life, and his parents can live a normal life, because the dog is so good.”

Hanzuk said she isn't sure how many people have registered to take part in the walk, but shared that there was a lot of interest in the event at the Business Expo this past weekend.

Those interested in raising money for the Dog Guides can pick up a pledge form at 4 Your Pets, the Nor-West Animal Clinic or the Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau, or call Gaby Hanzuk at 274-3764.

Hanzuk said that she hopes everyone turns out to the Sorting Gap Marina this weekend to take part in the Walk for Dog Guides and help support people who need a little help from a canine companion.

“We really enjoy having people coming out, and there are always little treats for the dogs,” Hanzuk said.

“And if you're not interested in going, or you don't have a dog, or you don't have the time, you know what? Donate. Donate to somebody who's going in it.”

The Walk for Dog Guides will begin at 1 p.m. at the Sorting Gap Marina this Sunday. Registration for the walk will begin at noon.

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