Dog Guides are working animals that, according to the Purina Walk for Dog Guides, are “to some … their eyes, to others, their means to live independently.” Dog guides help their humans hear and see, they activate alert alarms in cases of diabetic or epileptic seizures, and they provide stimulation and companionship to those with autism.
Dog guides, in other words, are an extension of some people’s very existence.
Every year, the Sooke Harbourside Lions Club hosts a Purina dog walk that raises funds in support of Dog Guides.
This year, Sooke Harbourside Lion Deb Schenk dedicated both the walk and the following article to Robert Foster, a young man who was diagnosed with Nodular Sclerosing Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, stage two, in October last year. He died on November 27 at the age of 23.
According to Schenk, Robert’s dog guide, Radar, “was trained to open doors, bring articles on demand, pick up dropped objects, alert another adult if Robert said ‘help’ or if he fell out of bed or his wheelchair. Radar acted as another set of eyes and ears for a young man who didn’t always want to hang out with his caregivers which afforded Robert some independence and autonomy.”
This year’s Purina Walk took place on May 25 on Whiffen Spit.
Following is Schenk’s article.
FOR ROBERT FOSTER
This Purina Dog Guide Walk and article is dedicated to Robert Foster, Sherri St. Pierre’s foster child.
Although I did not know him personally, I heard of his courage and strength and his will.
Radar, Robert’s ever faithful companion, (now retired), was by his side to the very end.
This is why we hold these events and strive to make a difference allowing each and every person to have the independence, companionship and loyalty we all sometimes take for granted.
Sherri St. Pierre honoured him by attending the walk this year and I am so very grateful for her presence through this very difficult challenging time. I hope that Radar is now giving her some comfort and helping to ease the emptiness in some way.
This year, the walk was a rainy one again, (perhaps some tears being shed universally?), but it was a light rain and a constant wind but it was not to beat us down.
The walkers who came were enthusiastic as ever awaiting the official start time. Mayor Wendall Milne cut our purple ribbon and walkers were off in all their glory with tails wagging.
Our ever faithful Lions were:
– giving out registration bags full of goodies,
– cooking hotdogs that were smelling oh so good,
– selling dog biscuits that sold like hotcakes,
– selling people cookies that were a nice treat to have with our
– enjoying complimentary coffee from Stick in the Mud, and
– overseeing the silent auction table full of pet items so kindly donated.
Our pet contest for best dressed was very successful this year with some very charming participants. Definitely a keeper…if only for photo sake!
As you can see the weather did not dampen our spirit and once again the money came in to a grand total…although not official yet as awaiting some money, but here it is at $5,240!
Submitted by Deb Schenk