(CARLETON PLACE, ON – Apr. 27, 2022) – As part of CNIB Guide Dogs' class of 2022, 16 Canadians who are blind or partially sighted are graduating with their guide dogs on International Guide Dog Day (April 27) after completing intensive training.
Whether it’s avoiding obstacles, stopping at curbs and steps or negotiating traffic, these guide dogs foster independence for people living with sight loss. In these partnerships, the handlers provide directional commands, and the dogs ensure the teams' safety.
At today's graduation ceremony, five buddy dog partnerships will also graduate alongside the guide dog partnerships. A CNIB Buddy Dog is partnered with a child or youth who is blind or partially sighted. Whether it’s feeding, grooming or walking this well-trained family pet, a buddy dog provides a child with an opportunity to care for a dog and, in some cases, makes it easier to transition into a guide dog partnership.
"Today's graduating dogs are changing the lives of Canadians with sight loss from coast to coast to coast. As we celebrate CNIB Guide Dogs’ fifth anniversary this year, we have more than 150 dogs in the program, with 52 guide dog teams and 19 buddy dog partnerships across Canada,” says Diane Bergeron, president of CNIB Guide Dogs and guide dog handler for 38 years. "The other dogs are still being raised and/or trained."
The graduation ceremony can be viewed at cnib.ca/grad after 6 p.m. EDT on April 27.
Since launching in 2017 with just two puppies and two staff members working from home, CNIB Guide Dogs has raised, trained, and matched 77 dogs in communities across Canada, including 52 guide dogs, 19 buddy dogs, and six ambassador dogs.
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.
CNIB Guide Dogs will launch its own dog-breeding program in 2022 to train Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and crosses of the two breeds. These dogs are ideal because of their temperament, personality, and desire to please. These two breeds also have double-layer coats, which means they can be placed anywhere in Canada and will shed according to climate. The new breeding program will enable CNIB Guide Dogs to raise, train and match more dogs with people with sight loss across Canada, and help close the gap for those waiting to be matched with a guide dog or buddy dog.
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 with mobility. In fact, 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 number-one priority.
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 cnibguidedogs.ca