Loyal lab to the rescue

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The MacDonald fam­ily re­quested a dog guide from the Li­ons Foun­da­tion of Canada in an ef­fort to find a way to pre­vent Noah from un­ex­pect­edly bolt­ing. Argo came in 2010, just in time for Christ­mas.

MacDonald couldn’t imag­ine a more mean­ing­ful gift for Noah.

“No dog will ever com­pare to Argo,” she said, not­ing that Argo is es­sen­tially the same as a fam­ily pet when he is not work­ing, AKA “in vest,” but the loyal lab tends to stick near Noah any­how, of­ten ac­com­pa­ny­ing him to bed.

“He’s very calm­ing,” said MacDonald, a mother of four. “He’s just a very old soul.”

MacDonald is im­pressed with how quickly Noah’s school­mates at Pine Ridge learned the im­por­tance of let­ting Argo fo­cus on Noah when the work­ing vest is on. This means re­frain­ing from in­ter­act­ing with the dog in any way that can be dis­tract­ing.

“The kids at school will po­lice others not to pet Argo,” said MacDonald.

Argo is trained to fol­low di­rec­tions in­stantly. In vest, the dog is ca­pa­ble of stop­ping Noah in his tracks with a sim­ple com­mand.

“They al­ways ex­pect to be to­gether,” said MacDonald.

“If we did not have the Li­ons, this pro­gram would not ex­ist, and it’s a huge help to fam­i­lies with autism.”

MacDonald of­ten joins her hus­band in lead­ing pub­lic pre­sen­ta­tions about the Li­ons Foun­da­tion of Canada’s Dog Guides pro­gram.

“We owe them the most hu­mon­gous debt of grat­i­tude.”

Fam­i­lies re­ceiv­ing guide dogs must pay for the food and vet bills that come with look­ing af­ter the an­i­mal, but the Li­ons foun­da­tion cov­ers all of the nearly $25,000 in train­ing costs as­so­ci­ated with rais­ing, train­ing and plac­ing the pups.

“See­ing the dogs and what they can do is un­real,” said Barb Lyle, a Kingston res­i­dent and lo­cal Li­ons Club mem­ber who has vis­ited the non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion’s dog guide train­ing fa­cil­ity in On­tario three times.

“It was such a mov­ing thing.” The foun­da­tion trains six kinds of guide dogs: ca­nine vi­sion, hear­ing ear, autism as­sis­tance, seizure re­sponse, di­a­betic alert and ser­vice dogs for peo­ple with a phys­i­cal dis­abil­ity.

Lyle, on be­half of Li­ons clubs in Kingston and Ayles­ford, is or­ga­niz­ing a Pu­rina Walk For Guide Dogs that is slated to take place at 10 a.m. May 29, start­ing at the Green­wood Mall. All of the pro­ceeds will go to the Li­ons Foun­da­tion of Canada to as­sist with the dog guides that will be matched with a per­son in need of the spe­cial­ized as­sis­tance.

“It gives them a com­pletely new out­look on life,” said Lyle.

The Kingston walk will be one of about 200 tak­ing place through­out Canada this spring.

“We’d like to see as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble come out,” said Lyle.

Regis­ter or do­nate here: https://www.puri­nawalk­for­dog­guides.com/

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