April 22nd, 2024

Walk for Dog Guides helps provide furry assistance


By Lethbridge Herald on May 21, 2021.

Alejandra Pulido-Guzman

For the Lethbridge Herald

This month the Oler family, along with many others from coast-to-coast, are joining the Pet Valu Virtual Walk for Dog Guides in support of Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides, a national charity that provides dog guides at no cost to Canadians with medical and physical disabilities
For the Oler family, this walk is a way to pay it forward. They received an invaluable gift through the foundation and since then, they have contributed in every way they have been able to do so.
Typically held in-person in approximately 300 communities in Canada, the event is now virtual due to pandemic restrictions.
Throughout the month Canadians will be walking, biking, running and wheeling to help reach the goal of raising $1.3 million for dog guides.
Dan and Mindy Oler have been supporting the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides since 2016, after they had the opportunity to acquire Tyrell, an autism assistance dog guide free of charge, for their son Tyler.
They originally acquired Tyrell to help out with Tyler’s anxiety, safety and were also hoping to help him develop social skills.
“Tyler has always been nervous if we go to appointments, busy locations or different things like that. So, we started taking Tyrell with us and one of the very first ones that I remember is taking Tyler to the dentist. We have never been able to get anything done before that, but Tyrell jumped up on Tyler’s lap and we got a whole cleaning done and he was calmed and relaxed,” said Mindy.
The other main reason the Oler family acquired Tyrell was for Tyler’s safety. Tyler was used to escaping situations that made him uncomfortable, which left his parents worried and searching for him on many occasions. But that changed shortly after getting Tyrell.
“We were able to attach a bell with Tyler and attach it to Tyrell’s back, so if Tyler started to try and run away, the dog would drop to the ground and not move so he couldn’t run away,” said Mindy.
The Oler family was at a special needs family camp when through word of mouth, they found out about the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides.
“There were two or three other families that had service dogs for autistic kids, so we just kind of got talking to them and one of them suggested that maybe we look into it, because they thought that Tyler could really benefit from that. So, we started looking into it, got serious about it and started the application process,” said Dan.
The process took about two years from the time they first applied to when they received Tyrell, because there’s a lot of demand for service dogs.
“It was quite the process. We had to get all sorts of letters, then had to fill out a fairly large application form so that they know what kind of things they need to look for in order to match the dog properly and to which kid,” said Mindy.
“They’re very careful with who they match the dogs with, because you really want that good connection with each team,” added Mindy.
Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides breeds future dog guides and places them with volunteer families for 12-18 months. These pups come back to Dog Guide University to major in one of the seven programs the foundation offers and go on to change someone’s life for the better.
Since 1983, the foundation has provided over 3,000 dog guides across Canada. Each dog guide costs approximately $35,000 to breed, train and place at no charge to qualified Canadians with a medical or physical disability. The foundation receives zero government funding and relies on the support of the public to continue to provide dog guides.
To donate or join the Walk for Dog Guides, please visit http://www.walkfordogguides.com

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