Guide dogs are priceless to the people they help, whether to assist someone who is sight impaired, afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), autism, diabetes or seizures.
To the organizations that train these dogs, there is a hefty cost—sometimes as high as $40,000. With one in five Canadians limited due to a disability according to a 2017 Canada-wide survey, the need is great.
Kayla Aolick of Port Alberni has a seizure dog named Shadow, who has been trained to recognize when Kayla is going to have a seizure, and to get help if she needs it. Grateful for her guide dog, Aolick and Bosley’s by Pet Valu have teamed up to present the Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides fundraiser on Sunday, May 26 in Port Alberni.
The walk is one of about 300 that will be taking place in communities across Canada, with 100 percent of proceeds going toward one of the seven guide dog programs that the Lions Foundation of Canada runs.
Aolick, who is afflicted with seizures as a result of a brain tumour when she was a child, has had Shadow since 2012. She and her mother, Sheila Aolick, travelled to Ontario to the Lions Foundation of Canada headquarters for two weeks of training and orientation with Shadow before they were able to bring him home.
Kayla said Shadow has given her an independence she never thought she would have. Receiving a guide dog is a rigorous process and can cost thousands of dollars—none of which gets passed on to the person receiving the guide dog.
The Aolicks and Shadow attended their first Walk for Dog Guides in 2013 in Nanaimo. Wanting to give back to the organization that helped Kayla so much, the mother and daughter planned their first walk for Port Alberni in 2014 and have held it ever since.
”In 2013 we went to Nanaimo and that’s where (Kayla) got the idea to do it in Port Alberni,” Sheila Aolick said.
This will be the second year that Bosley’s by Pet Valu has sponsored the walk. The Alberni Valley Lions Club is also supporting the event.
The walk kicks off at 9 a.m. in front of Bosley’s, with coffee, doughnuts and registration. The walk will start at 9:30 a.m. and proceed down Cherry Creek Road from the store, across the street, behind Alberni Mall and emerge near the access to the SPCA. It will take about half an hour.
Pledge sheets are available at Bosley’s, 203-3555 Johnston Rd. In Pacific Rim Centre. For more information, call Holly at 1-250-736-1156.