Loyal lab to the rescue
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/