The Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides, organized by the Ponoka Lions Club, will be held on Sunday, May 26.
The walk is a fundraiser for the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides, which provides trained dog guides to qualifying individuals free of charge.
“I would love to see a minimum of 25 people walking. We’ve never had that many before,” said Dixie Tyndall, the secretary of the Ponoka Lions Club and next in line for president.
Registration is at 1 p.m. and the walk will start at 2 p.m., starting at Lions Centennial Park.
Dogs are welcome for owners who want to come out and get some exercise with their pooch, but aren’t necessary. All are invited to participate.
Not a walker? No problem. There are other family-friendly events going on in support of the Lions foundation.
The Canadian Search and Disaster Dogs Association will be onsite doing a demonstration and there will be a barbecue, with hot dogs for purchase.
There will also be a fishing derby with a $5 entry fee.
Events will start at about 1 and go until about 3 p.m., when there will be presentations made to those who raised the most in pledges.
Prizes donated by local businesses will be given to the winners. An unofficial total of the funds raised from the day will also be announced.
All proceeds of the walk, barbecue and fishing derby will go toward the training and placement of dog guides across Canada.
The average cost of raising and training a dog guide is $25,000, says Tyndall.
Through the Lions foundation anyone in Canada can apply for a dog guide, and if they qualify, receive a dog guide at no cost.
The foundation will even pay the travel costs of the new owner to come to the breeding and training facility in Oakville, ON, to meet their new dog guide and take him home.
There are several kinds of guide dogs: hearing guides, vision guides, seizure response guides, service guides, autism assistance guides, support guides and Diabetic alert dog guides.
Soon, Tyndall hopes the Ponoka and Maskwacis area will get its own support dog guide.
“I’m working at getting a support dog for this area,” she said.
Support dog guides are for use by professional agencies and are trained to provide comfort to victims or witnesses in traumatic situations which may include being a witness or a victim of a crime or a sudden tragedy.
They can also give added support to individuals who are providing difficult disclosure to police that may include crimes of child abuse or sexual assault.
Besides funding, the main hurdle is finding a suitable handler to care for the support dog.
This person must have time for the dog guide and for going out to requests for support and must be security-cleared.
The dog will live with the handler and come out to the RCMP, Victim Services or the court room as requested.
Camrose already has a trauma guide dog, which Ponoka recently borrowed for a court case, according to Tyndall.
Tyndall is currently working with a possible handler and is optimistic about receiving a support dog guide for this area.
“We definitely have it in the works.”
Pledge forms can be found at Ponoka News, Ponoka Vet Clinic, Central Vet Clinic, Pet Valu and Scizzor Wizzard Hair Design.
For more information, or to find a printable pledge form, visit www.walkfordogguides.com.