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Rod standing in front of a water fountain in a park with Wallace laying on the ground in front of him; Rod stands in a driveway with Wallace sitting on the ground to his right; Rod stands with Wallace on a leash in a field.

Raising Wallace

Recently retired, Rod Evans read an article about the need for volunteer puppy raisers in Regina, which was the beginning of this memorable experience. 

“The program sounded very interesting and a good way to support the CNIB community. I had time to devote to raising a puppy and sent in my application,” says Rod.

In August 2019, Wallace, a black Labrador-golden retriever puppy, became part of the Evans household.

“Wallace was very friendly and inquisitive. He quickly made himself at home,” explains Rod.

For 14 months, Rod raised the loveable and enthusiastic Wallace.

“Everyone enjoyed visiting Wallace and they were impressed with how he progressed with his training. Wallace learned the basics quickly, like getting house-trained. He would let me know if he wanted his ears cleaned or teeth brushed in between regular cleanings. He would also let me know when it was time to go for our daily walk if he thought I forgot,” says Rod.

Rod would take Wallace to his favourite spots, Wascana Park and Costco, and the two enjoyed interacting with their community.

“Wallace was always happy to meet new people. He was very eager to go on our walks, he loved to shop! People were interested in learning about the program, what Wallace is allowed to do, and what they should be doing around guide dogs,” says Rod.

With Rod’s encouragement and Wallace’s eagerness, the duo worked together as Wallace learned to master his cues.

“Raising a future guide dog puppy has its ups and downs,” explains Rod. “Fortunately, the good times far outweigh the bad – and overall, the experience is very rewarding.”

Despite any challenges, Wallace seemed to have an aptitude for the guide dog lifestyle.

“Everyone was quite amazed at how his behaviour changed when his vest was put on. I was told many times that he seemed to prance while wearing his vest, as though he knew how special he was,” says Rod.

In October 2020, Wallace completed his puppy training and moved onto advanced training at CNIB’s Canine Campus.

“Although it was sad to see Wallace go, we knew he had to leave for his next level of training. It feels great knowing that we had a role in his training for him to assist someone with vision loss, says Rod. "We are very proud of him, and look forward to raising another puppy for CNIB, if opportunity knocks!”

Update: Wallace was matched with a guide dog handler in July 2021 and will be graduating as part of CNIB Guide Dogs’ class of 2022 on April 27, 2022 

For information on puppy raising, visit cnib.ca/PuppyRaising.