(Lion Helen Burke, Pat Struble of Wellings of Stittsville and Lion Marilyn Southall are pleased with the partnership formed between Wellings of Stittsville and the Lions Club to support the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides Program. Photo: Beth Lewis)
Since 1985, Canadian Lions Clubs have been providing guide dogs to people with visual impairments through their Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides (LFCDG). The mission of the the Foundation is to assist Canadians with a medical or physical disability by providing them dog guides at no cost. At a cost of $25,000 to train and place each of these dogs, Lions rely only on donations and receive no government funding.
For this reason and knowing the importance of dog guides to those with impairments, on June 25, 2020, Wellings of Stittsville partnered with the Stittsville Lions to raise money for Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides.
How did this partnership come about? Pat Struble, of Wellings, loves dogs and “had a friend in Alberta with a Canine Vision dog”. Pat had this idea to assist the Lions and did her homework, and “here we are partners“. The funds come from recycling wine, liquor and beer cans. All monies received will go to the Dog Guide Programs. Beth Lewis, District A4 Governor and a Stittsville Lion said, “the Stittsville Lions are very pleased in this joint effort”.
(The team at Wellings of Stittsville have teamed up with the Stittsville Lions to support the training and placement of dog guides for those with disabilities by donating the Wellings’ wine and liquor bottles along with beer cans to the Lions recycling empties program.)
The Lions Foundation of Canada trains dog guides to assist Canadians with a wide range of disabilities. With seven programs in place, Canadians with disabilities are offered the opportunity to find greater independence, mobility and safety through the help of a dog guide.
Depending on the program, dog guides are trained to perform a set of basic skills that are useful to all handlers. However, some of their training is also tailored to meet the specific needs of their future handler. In the final stage of training, the client and dog guide train and live together at the Oakville facility for two to four weeks. This helps to ensure that the new working team develops a bond and prepares them for their next step — returning home.
Since the initial Dog Guide Program began, it has expanded to include many more programs for which these specially trained dogs are needed:
Canine Vision for people who are blind or visually impaired;
Hearing for people who are deaf or hard of hearing;
Autism Assistance for children who have autism spectrum disorder;
Service for people who have a physical or medical disability;
Seizure Response for people who have epilepsy;
Diabetic Alert for people who have diabetes with hypoglycemic unawareness; and,
Facility Support for professional agencies assisting individuals in traumatic situations.
Now the largest school of its kind in Canada, Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides is located in Oakville and has a breeding and training facility in Breslau, Ontario.
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