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Getting squeaky clean for a good cause

The cost to raise, train, and match a dog guide is $35,000. North Bay has received a number of these dogs

Dogs of all shapes and sizes were lined up for the annual Widdifield Lions Club Dog Wash in support of the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides program.

The Foundation trains and provides dog guides for people living with disabilities in seven different program areas; hearing, seizure response, service, autism assistance, diabetes alert, facility support, and canine vision.   

Addyson Long is an original dog wash volunteer, starting at the tender age of six.

The teen was back again this year, this time to get her six-month-old dog Pepper washed.

“I like seeing all the dogs, and I like doing fundraisers for all the dogs. Last weekend I did the dog walk and I raised the most money.”

Long raised close to $1.300 for the walk, and made another donation to get her dog washed, money she knows will be put to good use.

“They are a lot of money and I think it takes two years to fully train them. I think it helps a lot of people.”

Nadean Bureau brought her 10-year-old dog Nova by for a quick wash.

“He did well. He loved every bit of it,” laughed Bureau.

“We love supporting the dog wash to raise money for guide dogs.”

Jessica Ryman took advantage of the opportunity to make her two-and-a-half-year-old rescue, Molly, squeaky clean, while supporting the fundraiser.

“There are so many people in our community and surrounding communities who could use the help of a dog guide,” she stated as her reason for attending the event.

Dog walk and wash organizer, Melanie Pigeau is a member of the Widdifield Lions Club which has been raising funds to support the program for quite a few years.

“The dog guide program is pretty amazing, it really helps people gain independence, freedom, and quality of life.”

During last weekend's dog walk, four dog guides were in attendance.

“We had Morley who is a hearing dog guide, we had a vision dog guide that came from Sudbury, named Edison. We had Albert who is retired now. Albert is a vision dog guide, and Hamlet, also known as Hammy, hung out with us all day, and he is an autism assistant,” shared Pigeau.

The cost to raise, train, and match each dog guide is $35 thousand for the first year and a half of their life, however, they come at no cost to successful applicants.  

“Even after they go through the training program, they have to train with the individual to make sure they’re a good fit for each other,” explained Pigeau.

“If someone needed a dog guide and we didn’t raise the $35,000 we would still get a dog guide here in North Bay. We get quite a few come through North Bay which is really nice to see.”

The figures for last weekend’s walk are in, and the final result is impressive.

“Last year we raised just over $16 thousand. We had a high goal of $18 thousand this year, and just after the walk, we were sitting at a little over $19 thousand. So, we might be pushing $20,000. That is the goal,” grinned a proud Pigeau.

The final total will be a walk, wash combination.  

The dog wash is always held on the weekend following the dog walk.

“The dog wash is a fun event and when I had the idea, obviously it would be too much to do it at the walk, so doing it separately was always the best choice. And it just gives it that extra top up on the walk funds and gives everybody an extra chance to come out and support it if they missed the walk.”