More than two dozen walkers and their dogs took part in Elliot Lake’s Walk for Dog Guides Sunday morning. At the marshalling point outside the Pet Valu store off Highway 108 (corporate sponsor of the event) Elliot Lake Lion Robert Kerr announced the $4,000 figure before the walkers set off. He told ElliotLakeToday it was a great fundraising outcome on a very busy weekend in the city.
Saturday, the Moose FM Radiothon for the Society for Animals in Distress on Perini Road collected pledges on air and raised more than $4,500 for the local shelter. It was also a weekend with a number of activities taking place during the annual Elliot Lake Pride Weekend festivities.
Mr. Kerr said, “We have to explain to people this is not just a dog walk, but rather a Walk for Dog Guides. You don’t need to have a dog to take part.”
The Lions Club accepts no government assistance as it trains dogs to assist people dealing with six specific issues and conditions in their lives. Dogs are trained in Oakville to assist people with vision impairment, those with physical or medical disabilities, those dealing with autism, people needing hearing ear dogs, those with seizure issues, along with diabetes alert guide dogs to assist diabetics. The approximate cost of training each dog is $25,000 or more, including the training the new owner receives.
Karen Gamble knows about the program first hand. She is visually challenged and was on hand at the Elliot Lake walk for Dog Guides to give something back. She received her dog about one and a half years after applying to be in the program. She says the dog allows her to live independently in a way only a dog or another person on duty 24 hours a day could do.
“Thanks to my Dog Guide, I can walk just about anywhere I need to go on St. Josephs Island (where she lives),” she said. “My Dog Guide gets me to the store, the library, the hairdresser, to medical and dental appointments, and to see my kids.”
Aside from its generic training, each animal gets specific instruction to help it deal with the individual needs of each recipient.
Organizers of this year’s Elliot Lake Walk for Dog Guides were thrilled with the weather, too. Elliot Lake Lions Club president Anne Brant noted last year’s event was plagued by “monsoon like conditions.” She said it rained so hard, “we weren’t able to get any pictures of the walk.” By contrast, this year’s walk was blessed with sunny skies and mild temperatures in the low 20s, and the photographers were busy.
Walkers headed north from the marshalling plaza after doing warm up exercises on site and walked along the sidewalk as far north as the Miner’s Memorial, on Horne Lake. After a brief break they turned around and returned south along the same route. Lions Club volunteers greeted their return with hot dogs, drinks and other refreshments served at Pet Valu.
Donations are still being accepted to assist the Dog Guide Program. For more information you can visit here or call them at 1-800-768-3030.