Canada-wide Walk for Dog Guides coming to Merritt and Logan Lake

By on May 15, 2017
Merritt will host a Walk for Dog Guides event in Voght Park on May 28, (Photo courtesy of Lions Foundation for Dog Guides Canada).

Most people are used to the idea of taking the pooch for a stroll — but for a large number of Canadians with a disability, walking with a specially trained guide dog can make a huge difference in their quality of life.

That’s the message Holly Tilstra hopes that people keep in mind during the national Walk for Dog Guides on May 28. Tilstra is organizing the local edition of the walk in Merritt, while another community-wide walk will take place in Logan Lake on the same day.

“The walk has been going on for about 30 years already, and growing like crazy across Canada,” said Tilstra. She said she decided to host the event in Merritt after having participated in other communities and realizing that without an active Lions Club in Merritt, the responsibility to organize the walk would have to fall to someone else.

All told, there are more than 200 communities across Canada taking part in this year’s edition of the walk, which aims to raise funds for the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides. The foundation provides specially trained dog guides at no cost to people living with a variety of disabilities — from those with visual or hearing impairment, to those living with epilepsy, autism or type 1 diabetes.

According to information on the Walk for Dog Guides website, training one guide dog costs approximately $25,000, and more than 2,500 Canadians have been matched with a dog.

Part of the process in being matched with a dog guide includes a two-week training period, where the prospective owner is trained alongside their dog guide, explained Tilstra.

Local dog owners, dog lovers and anyone looking to support a charitable cause while squeezing in some exercise are invited to come out to event, said Tilstra. Those looking to get a jump on contributing can sign up online. Participants can also find pledge sheets, and more information about the route on that page.

The walk is set to get underway at Voght Park, where there will be a variety of activities and attractions for both canine and human participants, said Tilstra, including a “Pucker Up for Pooches” dog kissing stand, as well as prizes and raffles.

The route is fully accessible, meaning even those with mobility issues will be able to participate. And while Fido is of course welcome to join, those without a dog are more than welcome to participate and support the walk regardless.

“I lived in a town where you saw this lady walking with her guide dog all the time, and my dog would go out and play with her,” said Tilstra. “To see the difference in her life with that dog, all the things she could do, it profoundly moved us both when we would walk with that dog.”

More details about the Logan Lake walk can be found at this link, though the Herald has confirmed with Logan Lake organizer Sharon June that the event is actually slated to begin at 1 p.m. — not 11 a.m. as listed on the site.

Merritt’s walk will start with sign-in at 1 p.m., and the walk slated for 2 p.m.

In either case, those planning on attending are asked to follow the links to the online sign up sheets, which will give organizers a better idea of the numbers to expect on May 28, explained Tilstra. For more information on the Merritt walk, contact Holly Tilstra at 250-280-8948, or via email at velvetpaws2u@yahoo.com.

One Comment

  1. Holly Tilstra

    May 16, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    Thanks so much for your support and super article, Cole! Merilyn in Oakville
    is stoked and appreciative too.

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