By Diane Bergeron, President, CNIB Guide Dogs
When travel restrictions, including the border closure, resulted in an increase in demand for CNIB Guide Dogs, a very special guide dog school in the United States came to our rescue in a big way.
Michigan-based Leader Dogs for the Blind, which was founded in 1939, provided six dogs for CNIB's guide dog training program.
Cosworth, Henson, Kinzie, Norman, Pharoah and Yoda arrived in Canada on November 17. They are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, or crosses of those two breeds – and between the ages of 14 and 18 months.
Guide dog programs, including Leader Dogs, breed guide dogs for a very special set of traits, including personality, abilities and an excellent health record.
The pups will spend the next four to six months in advanced training at CNIB Guide Dogs' Canine Campus in Carleton Place, working with professionally qualified guide dog trainers and guide dog mobility instructors. The dogs are now being introduced to the harness and the basics of the guiding role, including working safely with a handler.
This isn't the first time CNIB Guide Dogs and Leader Dogs for the Blind have turned to each other for help during the pandemic. When the border closure meant Leader Dogs for the Blind wasn't able to provide service to its Canadian clients, CNIB Guide Dogs stepped up to provide wellness checks and refresher training to the handlers.
While we are absolutely thrilled with Leader Dogs' gift of six dogs, we know we need many more dogs to keep up with the demand. To help CNIB Guide Dogs raise, train and match dogs with Canadians who need them, visit: cnib.ca/urgent