Puppy Walking for the Canadian Guide Dogs for the BlindMay 28, 2021 - By Kim O'Malley
Hello, my name is Kim and I am a Puppy Walker for Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind (CGDB). You may have seen me around the neighbourhood walking Pebbles, who is a 16 month old Golden Retriever. Pebbles has been living with my family since she was 4 months old. She came to us as a friendly, rambunctious puppy – which she still is! As part of the Puppy Walking program it is our job to help raise her to be a well mannered dog that has been socialized in as many different environments as possible. That has been a challenge during Covid but Pebbles comes with me to as many places as possible. Whether that be grocery shopping, going to appointments, or just running general errands. The goal of a volunteer Puppy Walker is to help the dog get ready before they go to formal training at the Guide Dog Centre. Typically puppies are placed in volunteer homes between 8-12 weeks old. And will stay with that family for 12-18 months. Pebbles has attended obedience classes run by CGDB and we meet with the program co-ordinator around once a month so they can check on her progress and help problem solve any issues we may be having.
Pebbles is the second dog that we have been Puppy Raising. In March of 2020 the black lab that we had for the previous 18 months went in for formal training. It was very hard to say goodbye to Dahlia. But we knew she was destined for greatness! And we were very proud that Dahlia successfully completed her training and started working as a Guide Dog in March of this year. It was a bittersweet moment when we got to see her one last time before she started working. But she was still the same sweet dog that loved getting belly rubs from everyone that she meets! If you ever see me out walking with Pebbles while she has her training vest on then please do not approach or try to engage her. It takes a lot of mental focus for a dog to learn what is expected from them. And once they are working it could be dangerous to the client if the dog is not 100% focused on them.
Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind was founded in 1984 and does not receive any government funding. They rely on donations from the public, often through fundraisers. They provide Guide Dogs to clients across the country and Mobility Dogs in the Ottawa area. If you’re wondering how you can help please check the CGDB website https://www.guidedogs.ca for volunteer opportunities and fundraising initiatives.
Thank you from Pebbles and all the other future Guide Dogs!