Barrie South Lions' dog guides walk
With help from her service dog Bobby, Nicole Beaupré returns to her apartment, Monday. Beaupré, who is a member of the Barrie South Lions Club, is helping organize an upcoming fundraising walk to help others who could benefit from a service dog. The walk will take place Sunday, May 28 at Shear Park. Mark Wanzel/Barrie Examiner/Postmedia Network
Bobby barks when Nicole Beaupré pats her throat, and he won’t stop until help arrives.
The black Labrador can also open the fridge door, jump up to tap open the accessible door button, and barks when her blood-sugar levels drop.
Beaupré suffers from several debilitating injuries caused by a car crash more than 20 years ago. This is her fourth dog guide, but she thinks he may be the smartest.
“He barked to attract the neighbours when I was in a (diabetic) trance,” Beaupré said. “But he wasn’t trained for that. He was trained to be a guide dog, not a diabetic guide dog.”
Apparently Bobby has learned to pick up on the scent human bodies emit when their blood sugars are low.
As one of many recipients of a dog guides through Barrie South Lions Club, Bobby is helping people with disabilities, like Beaupré, live a more normal life.
This month’s Pet Value Walk for Guide Dogs will raise money to help more people access dogs through the Lions Club of Canada, which has raised more than $1.4 million nationally to bring people and their working pups together.
Angela Romano says her daughter has been on the Lions Club list for more than two years.
“My daughter’s on the autism spectrum and is a flight risk, so some of the dogs are trained to act as an anchor when a child tries to run,” Romano said.
While Romano waits for her daughter’s dog, she actively participates in helping the Lions organize their walks each year, knowing once her daughter reaches the top of the list, she’ll get a really well-trained dog.
Each Lion dog guide costs approximately $25,000 to raise and train for its specific purpose. Each recipient attends an all expenses paid six-week training camp to learn how to work with their new dog, Beaupré said.
Dogs with calm personalities are ideal for sight-impaired people or those in wheelchairs who aren’t in a hurry, Romano said. But for people who work and take public transit, they require dogs comfortable in busy traffic and large crowds.
The Barrie South Lions Club was started by 21 members in 1999 and will help Lions Club International celebrate 100 years of service to their communities this year.
Past president Leonard Day said although the Barrie walk usually raises between $5,000 and $6,000, it helps people across Canada when Barrie’s funds are combined with other city’s walks.
“It’s the largest walk of its kind in Canada,” Day said. “Whether it’s helping someone get a guide dog or helping people through the Barrie Food Bank, it’s the joy of knowing people are getting help. That we’re giving service to people who need it.”
The Pet Value Walk for Dog Guides will be held on May 28 at the corner of Holgate and Innisfil streets near Shear Park. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m.