Support for dog guides is growing right across Rainy River District.
Not one but two “Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides,” organized by two of the district's Lions Clubs, are set to go this Sunday (May 27) in Fort Frances and Emo.
Here in Fort Frances, the Fort Frances Voyageur Lions Club will be hosting its 13th-annual dog walk.
It will begin at noon at the Sorting Gap Marina, with registration starting at 11 a.m. (although you don't have to come out that early).
The route will go to Seven Oaks and back.
Pledge forms are available at 4 Your Pets on Scott Street, from Voyageur Lion Gaby Hanzuk (274-3764), or online at www.walkfordogguides.com
As in past years, the purpose of this event is to raise money for the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides training school in Oakville, Ont.
This school is the only one in North America that trains dogs to assist with vision, hearing, diabetes, special skills, seizure response, and autism—even offering bilingual training for dog guide teams—at no cost to the clients.
But each dog costs $25,000 to train—a cost primarily paid for by the Lions Foundation with some help from sponsors, Voyageur member Bill Michl told the Times.
While some participants always collect pledges for Sunday's walk, it's not a requirement to take part. People can pay a registration fee or make a donation, if they so choose.
“We encourage people come out and raise some pledges for a good cause,” said Michl.
“Bring your dog, borrow a dog, or if you don't have a dog, just pretend you have one,” he quipped.
After the walk, fun prizes will be given out to the top pledge-getters, as well as to different types of pooches (the biggest, oldest, etc.)
Meanwhile, the Emo and District Lions Club will be hosting its first “Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides” that same day at the Emo fairgrounds.
Registration will be at 1 p.m., with the walk to start at 2 p.m.
Walkers will head south down Queen Street to Front Street and back to the fairgrounds, although a shorter route will be available for those who choose to take it.
“Since it's the first one, people should come out and get informed,” said club member Jo Woolsey.
“We've known abut the cause for some length of time but just never put together a crew that would be able to do it in Emo,” she noted.
“We want to bring the district together a little bit, I think,” she added.
Woolsey said the club is doing the walk in conjunction with—not in competition with—the Voyageur Lions' walk.
“I am telling everybody, 'Whichever walk is closest, and whichever time works best for you, go to one of them. Pick one walk,'” she remarked.
Pledge forms for the Emo and District Lions' dog walk are available at Cloverleaf Grocery in Emo, Aurora Wind Feeds in Barwick, and online at www.walkfordogguides.com
There also will be pledge forms at the walk for anyone who simply wants to register and perhaps make a donation that day.
Woolsey also noted participants can walk with or without a dog, adding there likely will be a few “spare dogs” on hands for those would like to walk with a dog but do not have one to bring along.
People don't even have to walk if they don't want to.
“I am just letting everyone know that even if they want to come out before the walk, or after, just to find out what it's all about, that's fine,” Woolsey said.
If anyone with a guide dog would like to take part, but needs a ride to the walk in Emo, the Lions will try to arrange transportation for them.
There will be prizes after the walk, along with doggie bags for every canine participants and a free hotdog barbecue.
For more information or arrange transport, call Woolsey at 276-6974.