In late October of last year, my family’s name finally – after 18 months – came to the top of the list. Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides called and told us that we would be receiving a dog to support our daughter, Brielle. Brie is six years old and has autism. She is a very bright and vivacious girl, but struggles with her language and social acumen.
Lions Foundation of Canada trains Dog Guides and assists Canadians with a wide range of disabilities. With six programs in place, Canadians with disabilities are offered the opportunity to find greater independence, mobility and safety through the help of a Dog Guide. The six programs are:
Canine Vision for people who are blind or visually impaired
Hearing Ear 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 disability
Seizure Response for people who have epilepsy
Diabetic Alert for people who have type 1 diabetes with hypoglycemic unawareness
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.
It was for this last part – the specific needs of the recipient – that I went to LFC Dog Guide’s centre in Oakville, ON for ten days last fall. There, I was given Jersey, an 18-month old black lab who had been trained to work with a child with autism but who had also been waiting for the perfect family to be matched up with. Over my ten days, I learned all of Jersey’s commands and how to work with him. At the end of the ten days, he flew home with me and has been making a positive impact on my daughter’s life ever since.
I also got to know what a wonderful organization LFC Dog Guides is. They train and provide hundreds of dogs to Canadians every year and do so relying solely on charitable donations. A single dog, from being specially bred, fostered by volunteer families, fed, provided medical care, housed, and trained costs $25,000.
So, that’s why I am giving back. Going forward, for every real estate transaction I participate in, I will be making a donation in the name of my buyer or seller client in support of LFC Dog Guide’s puppy program. By “adopting” a puppy, I will be helping offset the veterinary medical costs of a future dog guide.
Brielle and Jersey