July 15th, 2024

Cross country fundraiser walk set to support dog guides

By Dale Woodard - for the Lethbridge Herald on May 28, 2022.

Herald file photo Participants brought out their furry friends to take part in the Pet Valu Lions' Foundation Walk for Dog Guides in 2018. The event was intended to illustrate the importance of guide dogs and to raise some money for the Lions' ongoing efforts to provide the dogs to those who need them.

It will be an event for the dogs.

But this weekend’s fundraiser for man’s best friend will benefit the two-legged as well as the four-legged as the Lethbridge Lions Pet Valu Walk For Dog Guides hits the trail Saturday at the Gunnery Picnic Shelter at Henderson Lake Park. Registration is at 11 a.m. with the event starting at noon.
“We’re going to have a walk and a fundraiser to help support dog guides for the Lions Foundation of Canada. We have seven different types of dogs we train and it costs about $35,000 a dog to train them,” said Barry Simmonds of the Lethbridge Lions and co-chair for the event. “We’ve been looking for people to walk and give donations and on Saturday we’re going to get together and have a walk.”
Thousands of supporters across Canada will take to the trails to raise funds with options to participate in-person where possible or virtually in the event that ensures the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides can continue to fulfill its mission of empowering Canadians with disabilities to navigate their world with confidence and independence by providing dog guides at no cost to them.
The nation-wide goal is to “walk” the length of Canada – a total of 5,514 km – starting at Canada’s most easterly point, Cape Spear in Newfoundland, to Mt. St. Elias in the Yukon. 
People can participate by connecting a Fitbit device, downloading the Strava or Map My Fitness App or manually logging the distance they travel, be it by walking, running, biking or riding on a wheelchair accessible trail.
In Lethbridge, that will take the walkers outdoors once again following two years of virtual walks due to COVID.
This year’s goal is to raise $20,000 with $8,990 already raised as of Thursday.
“We’ll have some gift bags and things to give out. We’re not having burgers or anything this year because of COVID, but there will be other snacks given out,” said Simmonds, adding the walk has been taking place in Lethbridge for about 20 years. “Last year we were third overall in raising funds, which is pretty good for right across Canada. We average about $15,000 to $20,000 a year. We had about 50 walkers last time, which was three years ago now. We did it virtually the last two years.”
There are seven different dog guides, said Simmonds.
“We have canine vision, which is blind people who need to get around and have a dog to get them where they want to go. It protects them because they’re looking for all the hazards and things like that.”
There are also hearing assist dogs.
“They’re trained to hear sounds and let their owners know something is happening,” said Simmonds.
Seizure response dogs help comfort the owners during a seizure while service dogs can perform tasks such as getting items out of the fridge or laundry out of the dryer.
Autism assistance dogs can provide basic companionship, while diabetic alert dogs can sense when their owner is going into shock and are trained to respond and get help.
Facility supports dogs work with the police department, said Simmonds.
“I think we have about five dogs that came from the foundation here in Lethbridge. There are always requirements for new dogs and it doesn’t cost anything to get a dog from us.”
Those interested in getting a dog guide can visit the Lions Foundation of Canada in Ontario at www.walkfordogguides.com for further information.
Those wanting to make a local donation can visit http://www.walkfordogguides.com/fundraiser/lethbridge.

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