The 2018 Walk for Dog Guides in Port Alberni has a new look and a new route.
For the past few years dog guide recipient Kayla Aolick has organized the walk as a way of giving back to the organization that arranged for her dog guide. Aolick is a brain cancer survivor, but one of the side effects that afflicts her is seizures. Several years ago she received Shadow, her seizure response dog, through the Lions Foundation of Canada’s Dog Guides program.
Shadow gave Aolick her life back, allowing her some independence as she moved into her early 20s. So she and her mother Sheila give back by raising funds to provide other dog guides for people who need them.
This year, Holly Cathcart from Bosley’s Pet Valu in Port Alberni is coming on board as a major sponsor. In conjunction with the Bosley’s announcement, the route for the walk will begin and end at the store in Pacific Rim Shopping Centre.
The route will take walkers from the store along Cherry Creek Road to the trailhead for the Scott Kenny Trail by Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences (PCU-WHS), then toward the SPCA behind Canadian Tire before returning to the store.
“We’ll try it here this year and see how it goes,” Kayla Aolick said. “It’s a well-known area, it’s more visible. It might get people’s attention more because it’s more central.”
People of all ages and abilities are welcome to attend the walk. “You don’t have to have specifically a dog guide to come,” Aolick said. “It can be any dog. You don’t have to have a dog.
“Kids are always welcome.”
The Aolicks have arranged for the Alberni Valley Lions Club to put on a barbecue, and “pawdicures” for pets will be offered at Bosley’s.
“We’re hoping for a really good response this year,” Cathcart said. “We think it’s an important group. We want people to recognize their work, how important they are and what it means for the life changes for people.”
Each dog guide costs the Lions Foundation of Canada approximately $20,000, from training the puppy to training the new owner on how to work with a dog guide. The recipient doesn’t pay for the dog; the organization relies on donations to be able to provide dog guides.
There are as many as five dog guide teams in the Alberni Valley including Shadow, who is a seizure dog. A number of dogs in town are autism dogs. Considering British Columbia has brought in approximately 15 dog teams, the stats are impressive. “That’s quite a feat for our small community,” Cathcart said.
Bosley’s is located at 3555 Johnston Rd. #203, beside A&W. For more information, go online to www.walkfordogguides.com and search for the Port Alberni walk. Or call 250-724-3393 for more information. Registration will be at 12 p.m. and the walk will start at 1 p.m.