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Service dogs to be celebrated at fundraiser

Mehreen Shahid

By Mehreen Shahid, Special to the Packet & Times

Tessa has been trained as a service dog and will finally graduate on Aug. 12 at the Go Dogs Go fundraiser being held in Midland. SUBMITTED

Tessa has been trained as a service dog and will finally graduate on Aug. 12 at the Go Dogs Go fundraiser being held in Midland. SUBMITTED

Dogs are man's best friends.

At Sweet Charity, they're going a step further and becoming lifesavers.

Tessa was picked up at a local shelter by Kathy Currie-Eyers, program director for Sweet Charity, after the dog had been slated to be euthanized.

The three-year-old was displaying what Currie-Eyers called resource guarding, being protective of her bed and snapping and barking at staff when approached.

Currie-Eyers's friend called her to come meet Tessa. On their walk together, Currie-Eyers decided she was going to give Tessa a new lease on life. That's when Tessa started training under the non-profit's diabetic support program, which was initiated last year with an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant.

This year at Go Dogs Go, Sweet Charity's annual fundraiser, Tessa will be handed over to her new friend, a 12-year-old boy who was diagnosed with diabetes.

"The diabetic support program can make a huge difference for children," said Currie-Eyers. "Children quite often go through a lot of emotions when they're diagnosed with diabetes. They can feel lonely, frustrated, and angry, and the dogs can help break barriers with friends. It gives the child a sense of responsibility. It gets them out and gets them walking."

Sweet Charity, founded in 2013, boasts of two programs that help train dogs to assist young patients manage stress and physical symptoms related to diabetes. The organization is looking to raise awareness and funds for its programs, diabetic alert dog and diabetic support, with its upcoming Aug. 12 fundraiser in Midland, where it will take place, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., at Little Lake Park.

"The diabetic alert dog program is where dogs alert the person that their blood sugar is dropping," said Currie-Eyers, adding this can save lives in many cases. "They do this by sensing the change in the scent of the breath. When the dog smells the change in their breath, they alert the person their sugar is dropping by pawing at the person, and if they don't respond the dog gets more and more agitated and will bark and create a disturbance. If the recipient is a child, the dog can be trained to alert the caregiver."

Training diabetic alert dogs can cost up to $20,000 for each dog, including the cost of acquisition of a puppy from a breeder and 18 months of training, she said.

Both programs are offered to qualifying clients, aged three and 20, who have received a diagnosis of diabetes, added Currie-Eyers.

The fundraiser promises to be lots of fun for family and pets with agility courses and scent-training demos as well as other games, she said.

"We're doing a fundraising event called Puppy Poker Derby, and it's for all to participate," said Currie-Eyers. People will go with their dogs to each station and have their dog perform a behaviour. After they perform the behaviour, they get a card and move on to the next station. At the end of the game, the one who has the best poker hand will win a gift basket."

As well, families can bring their dogs to be tested to received a Canine Good Neighbour certificate from the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC).

"It's an official process that the Canine Kennel Club supports," said Currie-Eyers. "It supports the fact that the dog is a well-mannered dog. Sometimes people can use it to support their applications for renting an apartment."

Visiting families will also be able to enjoy a barbecue as well go by vendor booths and take part in a silent auction, which can also be accessed online at

"We'd love people to come out and get involved," said Currie-Eyers. "We're hoping people will come and see what's going on and participate with their family pet dog."

For more information on Go Dogs Go, visit

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