Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides is a national charitable foundation that was created by the Lions of Canada. Its mission is to assist Canadians with a medical or physical disability by providing them Dog Guides at no cost.
Since 1983, Lions Foundation of Canada has been providing specially trained Dog Guides to men, women and children from coast to coast. In addition to training Dog Guides for people who are blind or visually impaired, Dog Guides are also trained to meet the needs of Canadians with hearing, medical and physical disabilities, epilepsy, autism and type 1 diabetes.
All Dog Guides and required training, including transportation and accommodation, are provided at no cost to qualified applicants. The Lions Foundation does not receive any government funding and relies on the support of fundraising events like the Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides.
Canine Vision Dog Guides increase the mobility and self-confidence of people who are blind or visually impaired by enabling their handlers to travel safely through crowded areas, traffic and around obstacles, ensuring they “never walk alone.”
“Growing up in the Middle East, I didn’t know of anybody who had a guide dog. I remember learning about them and thinking, 'what a nice feeling it must be having a dog as a guide!' This past year, I achieved two wonderful things: I became a Canadian citizen, and I received a Canine Vision Dog Guide. Now I have my best friend right here by my side."
– Omid & Jupiter, Canine Vision, Toronto, Ont.
Hearing Dog Guides are trained to alert handlers who are deaf or hard of hearing to sounds they can’t detect. These Dog Guides react to sounds such as the telephone ringing, a doorbell chime, a child crying, an alarm clock sounding, the calling of their name and the sound of an activated fire alarm.
"Candy has improved my quality of life in more ways than I can count. Before Candy came into my life, I would isolate myself from the community and avoid conversations because I couldn’t really participate. Now I actively communicate with people and I have an important story to tell."
– Angele & Candy, Ottawa, Ont.
Service Dog Guides (formerly known as Special Skills Dog Guides) are trained to work with people who have a medical or physical disability, assisting them with daily tasks such as activating light switches, opening and closing doors and drawers, retrieving dropped items, assisting with getting into and out of wheelchairs and/or beds, and seeking help, should assistance be needed.
“We’re so in synch that sometimes I’ll drop something while I’m working and not even realize it until Jim brings it to me. He’s an incredibly intuitive dog, always anticipating what I might need, sometimes before I do. It might take me a bit longer to do certain things, but I’ve always been independent and sure of who I was, and having Jim has reaffirmed this.”
– David & Jim, Service, Calgary, Alta.
Seizure Response Dog Guides help handlers who are affected by epilepsy. They are specially trained to react to seizures by barking for help, activating an alert system, fetching a medical kit, or by seeking help within a home environment. After a seizure has occurred, they provide comfort, aiding in a quicker recovery.
“For so many years, I felt like I was watching life go by on the other side of the window. Because of epilepsy, I had no life. My whole world opened up when I received my Seizure Response Dog Guide. I finally had the safety I needed to go out on my own, and my whole family had the peace of mind of knowing I had this amazing dog looking out for me.”
– Judy & Anik, Seizure Response, Gatineau, Que.
Autism Assistance Dog Guides provide safety and companionship for children who have autism spectrum disorder. They provide calming relief in high-anxiety situations, and reduce the stress commonly experienced in public places. Bonding with the Dog Guide helps both the child and their family gain increased independence and social interaction.
“Having Gibson for William has really had a ripple effect on the whole family. We’ve been able to go on our first ‘real’ trips together, and we don’t have to use the divide-and-conquer strategy where one parent always stayed home with Will, while the other went out to run errands. It’s changed our way of life. We’re doing things we once only dreamed about.”
– Christina, mom to William with Autism Assistance Dog Guide Gibson, Saskatoon, Sask.
Diabetic Alert Dog Guides assist people who have type 1 diabetes with hypoglycemic unawareness. They are trained to detect decreases in their handler’s blood-sugar levels through scent, and alert them in the event of a low. They will also bark for help or activate an alert system in the event of an emergency.
"Diabetes is an invisible disability, and it can be difficult to describe to others what’s it’s like to cope with low blood-sugar levels. It’s made me feel old before my time. But having Juno has allowed me to feel like myself again. This has been a real gift."
– Megan & Juno, Campbell River, B.C