Pet Expo Supports BC Guide Dog Services
The Vancouver Island Pet Expo will take place on May 28th & 29th in Victoria BC. At the expo we love to support a local charitable or non profit organization that focuses on pets and animals. We raise funds through face-painting, balloon animals through Par-T-Perfect and donations at the door. This year we will be raising funds for BC Guide Dog Services.
BC Guide Dog Services has been working to provide the highest quality of service to the people of BC for the last 15 years, and we are proud to have them on board as our Charity of Choice!
Though sometimes thought of as a dog organization, B.C. Guide Dog Services (BCGDS) and Autism Support Dogs (ASD) is, in reality, an organization about people. They see ability, not disability!
Their goal is to improve the quality of life for visually impaired or blind people, and for families with autistic children.
Their work begins even before the dogs are born, as they design their own specialized breeding program, often collaborating internationally with other quality breeders. When each of the puppies is old enough, it is placed in a home with a volunteer puppy raiser. With professionally-supervised support, the puppy raisers help to foster well-socialized, obedient and confident dogs.
When they are about fifteen months old, the dogs start professional training with a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor (GDMI). It takes approximately eighteen weeks to complete this advanced training, depending on each dog’s individual needs. Then the trainers begin what is possibly the most complex process of all—the individualized matching of dog with client. All aspects of the dog’s abilities and needs must be well understood, as must the abilities, needs and expectations of the client.
The GDMI works one-on-one with each client and dog partnership for a minimum of 50 hours of in-harness training during which they cover the entire spectrum of possible situations—working in both urban and rural areas, on public transit, in shopping malls, covering routes both with and without sidewalks, safely crossing streets and negotiating obstacles as well as dealing any access issues that may come up.
Their work doesn’t end here though. BC Guide Dog Services continue to provide life-long after care for the pair always with the aim of providing the highest quality service and support. (The working life of a Guide Dog is approximately eight years.)
At BC Guide Dog Services, they provide professionally-trained dogs at no charge to their clients. They raise all of the $37,000 needed to breed and train a Guide Dog or Autism Support Dog from donations. They don’t receive government funding for the work they do.
At the Vancouver Island Pet Expo, they will be running a Blindfold Walk! Sign up to experience the amazing abilities of a Guide Dog, first hand. With support from a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor, you will be blindfolded and led through an obstacle course by a Guide Dog. You will need to rely on the cues and information the trained Guide Dog is giving you to negotiate obstacles, and complete the course.