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Clubs gearing up for dog walk

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As part of a national fundraising campaign, the Voyageur Lions and its Fort High-based Leo Club are planning a “Purina Walk for Dog Guides” here May 28.

And with only a few weeks to go, organizers are focusing on getting more people to register, collect pledges prior to the walk, and come out with their four-legged friends that Sunday.

Leo Club advisor Val Martindale said posters and registration forms are being distributed around town this week, and dog-owners should keep their eyes peeled for them.

Forms will be available at the Nor-west Animal Clinic, among other places.

Those who want to participate also can register online at www.purinawalkfordogguides.com

“We’ve got about 20 kids at the school signed up and now we’re looking at getting people from the community signed up,” said Martindale.

She added the walk has occurred nationwide for years and believes it will become an annual event here.

Martindale also noted it has gained popularity across Canada, with the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides having 112 walks scheduled to go this May 28 as opposed to just 40 last year.

The local walk will start at 1 p.m. at Pither’s Point, proceed to the Sorting Gap Marina, and then head back.

There will be refreshments and lunch for participants afterwards, as well as contests for dogs and their owners.

Participants will get pledges prior to the walk, and then will be eligible for prizes such as shirts and hats depending how much money the bring in. The event is sponsored by Purina and Super Pet, which also are providing prizes.

Any pledges over $15 get a tax receipt.

Proceeds will go to the national Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides program. Dog guides help the blind, hearing-impaired, and those with other physical disabilities (like people in wheelchairs).

The dogs are trained to aid them in their daily lives and get help for them if a problem arises.

A dog guide means increased mobility, safety, and independence to people who have lived with a disability for a long time or whose lives suddenly have changed due to an accident or illness.

The Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides has been serving Canadians with disabilities since 1983.

It raises most of its puppies and places them in foster homes for their first year.

Once mature, the dogs are selected and trained for six-eight months, which then is followed by recipients staying at the Foundation for two-four weeks to be matched and learn how to work with their new dog guide partners.

All of the formal training, residences, and administration are based in the Foundation’s Oakville, Ont. headquarters. There also are puppy and training facilities in Breslau, Ont.

It takes time—and money—to raise, train, and place a highly-skilled dog guide. From learning basic house manners to honing the skills required of them in service can take up to two years and cost as much as $25,000.

For more information, call Martindale at 274-7829.

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