After months of extensive training, CNIB Guide Dogs is excited to announce the graduation of its inaugural class. In total, six dogs have been paired with handlers from across Canada and are ready to embark on a lifelong journey in helping their human counterpart live a fully independent life.
“This is a milestone for our guide dog program,” said John Rafferty, CNIB president and CEO. “We’ve been able to see our vision for this program come to life and exceed our expectations. Today, we get to see it all come together as our first guide dogs and their handlers start on their new journey together.”
Launched 18 months ago, the program was designed to train guide dogs to specifically meet the needs of people with sight loss, with training philosophies focused on maximizing success. With its person-centric focus, the program offers training tailored to the needs of each guide dog partnership and is at no cost to the user. Additionally, the program offers a full suite of follow-up support throughout the dog’s working life, including additional and refresher training, peer support and social groups.
“I’m pleased this new program is expanding the availability of guide dogs in Canada,” says Victoria Nolan, CNIB Guide Dog Program head of stakeholder relations and community engagement. “We look forward to continuing to support our first graduating class with ongoing training and aftercare as they return to their home communities this week.”
There are almost half a million blind and partially sighted people in Canada. For some, a guide dog provides an unparalleled level of mobility, freedom and confidence, while opening up the world in a whole new way.
Photo: CNIB Guide Dogs graduating class with training staff. CNW Group/CNIB photo