Alanna Brooks walks with her two shelties

Local pups walk in support of service dogs

The Sooke Purina Walk for Dogs usually raises between $2,000 to $3,000 each year

Broods of local dogs trekked through Whiffin Spit for the fifth annual Purina Walk for Dog Guides on June 17 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to raise money for service dogs.

The Sooke Harbourside Lions organized the event, which is held in support of the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides — an initiative that trains and supplies assistance dogs to  Canadians with disabilities at no cost.

Sooke Harbourside Lion, Susan Percival, said the Sooke dog walk raises between $2,000 to $3,000 each year through donations and pledges from residents.

Percival said there are six or seven dog guides from the foundation currently serving Sooke residents, one of them being a young, autistic boy.

“He was always up during the night and active during the night,” she said. “But since he’s had his dog to sleep with, he’s calm, relaxed,  contented and sleeps all night.”

Dogs of all sizes and breeds were seen happily ambling along the Spit, with tails-a-wagging. A majority of pups were adorned with orange Purina Dog Walk bandanas.

One of the largest donations came from Geraldine McGuire, who managed to collect over $1,000 in pledges.

Due to her great efforts, McGuire’s Burmese mountain dog, Teddy Bear, was dubbed the dog walk ambassador for the day.

Over 250 different Lions Clubs across Canada also held Purina Walk for Dog Guides, and all funds will go towards the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides to train, house and connect dogs with families.

The foundation trains dogs for five different services, including: canine vision, hearing ear, special skills, seizure response and autism assistance.

There are two training facilities in Breslau and Oakville, Ontario. The total cost of training and placing a service dog is about $20,000.

The program receives no government funding and is funded by donations from service clubs, individuals, foundations and corporations.

Donations can be made at: www.dogguides.com/donate.html