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CNIB Guide Dogs bilingual logo : An illustration of a guide dog with a handle and harness. Text: CNIB Guide Dogs.

CNIB Guide Dogs celebrates Class of 2023 on International Guide Dog Day

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(CARLETON PLACE, ON – April 26, 2023) – After completing intensive training, it’s finally graduation day for the CNIB Guide Dogs class of 2023! Today, CNIB Guide Dogs is celebrating 15 new partnerships, including nine guide dog graduates, five buddy dog graduates, and one ambassador dog graduate. 

At a CNIB office, Penny sits in a chair. Her guide dog, Honour, a black Labrador retriever-golden retriever cross, sits at her feet. Penny pets Honours head and smiles with joy.
Penny Hartin & Honour

“Being part of a guide dog team provides mobility, safety and confidence, leading to increased independence and a sense of connection with the world,” says Diane Bergeron, President of CNIB Guide Dogs. “From British Columbia to Newfoundland and many communities in between, we are so proud of the partnerships who have completed their formal training and graduated as part of the Class of 2023. Congratulations, graduates!” 

Launched in 2017, CNIB Guide Dogs raises and trains Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and crosses of the two breeds to become guide dogs exclusively for people who are blind or partially sighted. With its person-centric focus, the program offers training tailored to the needs of each partnership, and there is no cost to the individuals.

Recently, CNIB Guide Dogs reached two significant milestones: welcoming its first litter of pups as part of its new breeding program and becoming an accredited member of the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF), which supports its members in their efforts to encourage and advance the provision of guide dogs as a safe means of independent mobility for people who are blind or partially sighted. 

Becoming a guide dog requires two years of intensive training and support. During this time, the dog must learn how to socialize, be obedient, navigate obstacles and guide someone who is blind or partially sighted. 

“The partnerships we’re celebrating today wouldn’t be possible without the support of our committed volunteers who help raise, train, and board our puppies in early stages of training,” says Kristen Black, Director of Operations and Business Development with CNIB Guide Dogs. “Volunteers are a critical part of our program, and we’re always in need of more volunteers to care for the pups in their first year of training. By volunteering with CNIB Guide Dogs today, you can support the future graduates of tomorrow.” 

To get involved, visit

Viewing parties for the CNIB Guide Dogs Class of 2023 ceremony are being held in communities across Canada on Wednesday, April 26 – International Guide Dog Day. You will be able to watch the graduation at after 3 p.m. Eastern Time. 

  • Guide dogs are among the most highly trained dogs in the world, performing tasks that require intensive standardized training and are specifically trained to assist someone who is blind or partially sighted. Guide dogs are one of the only service dogs trained in intelligent disobedience, which is disobeying their handler’s command if it will put the handler’s safety at risk. The safety of their handler is the guide dog’s top priority.  
  • A buddy dog is partnered with a child who is living with sight loss. Whether it’s feeding, grooming or walking this well-trained family pet, this will give the child an opportunity to care for a dog and, in some cases, help make it easier to transition into a guide dog partnership in the future. 
  • An ambassador dog is partnered with a staff member or volunteer to promote CNIB Guide Dogs at community events and raise awareness about the role of guide dogs. Whether it’s introducing someone to the benefits of guide dogs, recruiting volunteer puppy raisers for puppies-in-training or connecting with people who may be interested in sponsoring the program, these dogs are important members of the marketing team. 

About CNIB Guide Dogs 

At CNIB Guide Dogs, we raise, train and match dogs with Canadians who are blind or partially sighted. We also raise our voices to ensure people with sight loss have opportunities to live, work and play without barriers. We’re committed to ensuring social attitudes shift to universal acceptance and appreciation for guide dogs. We also provide advocacy support for guide dog handlers across Canada, regardless of where their dogs are trained. For more information about CNIB Guide Dogs, visit

Media contact: 
Karin McArthur
Manager, Marketing and Communications, CNIB
C: 437-922-7353 |

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