AUBURN, NS - Thanks to the fundraising efforts of Aylesford and District Lions Club members, an autistic child will be provided with a dog guide.
Aylesford and District Lions Club King Lion Fred Huntley said club members Joy Herbert and Peggy Bennett spearheaded the fundraising effort. Along with other Lions, they worked hard during the fall and early winter to raise $6,000 by Dec. 31 to sponsor an autism assistance dog guide team. Thanks to an anonymous donor, the funds were doubled so there was enough money for a full sponsorship.
The Lions raised the money through a road toll in September, selling cakes and squares and 50-50 draws at bingo nights, a spaghetti supper and some help from the scouts’ canteen.
Following a six-month training period for the autism assistance dog guide, parents travel to the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides training school in Oakville, Ontario, where they train and live for one week with their child’s new dog guide. The parents are taught how to work with the dog in real life situations.
After returning home, the parents begin to foster the bond between their child and his or her new dog guide. The final phase of the program is completed by the trainer who conducts a final week of in-home training with the child, family and dog guide.
Dog guides increase the safety and independence of autistic children while helping to provide newfound freedom for the entire family. Huntley said the club is aiming to sponsor a seeing eye dog this year.