By Greg Price
Taber Lions Club is hoping people will help a good cause while having some fun with their four-legged friends.
Confederation Park will be one of many sites that will be participating in the Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides on Tuesday, May 22.
“We’ve been doing it for 16 years (locally) now. It helps the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides. We have multiple dogs here in southern Alberta helping people out,” said Dean Arnold, secretary for the Taber Lions Club and a co-chair of the local dog walk. “If you talk to people who have participated in the walk, they know of somebody who has had need of a guide dog. The community has really latched on to the event. More and more people are participating in the walk all the time. When I first started, I think we had four people in the walk. Last year, we had nearly 35.”
For 32 years, the Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides has been a vital national fundraiser in support of Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides. Taking place in approximately 300 communities across Canada, the walk raises funds to provide life-changing dog guides to Canadians with physical and medical disabilities at no cost to them. Providing specially-trained dog guides through six distinct programs, meeting a wide range of needs, dog guides increase the independence, mobility, and safety of their handlers.
“It costs about $25,000 to train a dog properly. There is nothing cheap about it, and it is no cost to them. There is some cost that comes afterwards in the care of the dog,” said Arnold. “For me, when you see an autistic child who hasn’t said a word in five or six years all the sudden relates to the dog and they are best friends and the kid comes out of his shell, that’s big to me. People who are bound to wheelchairs have that support. The dogs are part of the family.”
Participation in the walk does not necessarily have to involve a dog.
“People can just come to the event with their donation and participate in the barbecue and help out that way,” said Arnold. “Some people are afraid their dog isn’t quite trained properly in crowds and they worry about that. You can walk by yourself if you want.”
Thanks to the support from walk sponsors, it is free to register and participate. Fundraising is an important objective of the walk, however, and participants are encouraged to set a personal fundraising goal. You can register online as a walker or sign up as a team captain and challenge your friends. You can also use the walk donation form to collect donations, or make a donation online.
“IGA and Co-op are donating food and drinks for the walk. We are hoping for good weather and a good turnout for the event,” said Arnold.
Since 1985, over $15 million has been raised for the event. Locally, Arnold estimates the Taber area has been able to raise approximately $200,000 in all the years it has done the walk.
Taber’s annual Walk for Dog Guides goes Tuesday, May 22 at Confederation Park. Registration and barbecue begins at 5:30 p.m. With a $2 donation to the dog walk, each person will receive a hot dog/hamburger, bag of chips and a pop or water. There is no participation necessary for the barbecue.
The dog walk will begin at 6 p.m. and be around Confederation Park. Taber Lions Club and sponsors will match all donations.