Deciding to reach out to a new guide dog school is a difficult decision. You get to know the trainers at their old school over time, and changing schools means starting all over again. More importantly, the trainers also need to get to know me. As they will also need to get to know you, if you decide to try life with a guide dog.
CNIB’s Guide Dog Program is new and is focused solely on guide dogs or dogs specific to vision loss. This is important because the vision loss community in Canada is less than 10% of many of the other disability communities. CNIB is also taking a different approach with this program.
CNIB isn’t focused on building a centralized “institution” of sorts. People will be served as much as possible in their home communities. No longer will it be necessary to leave behind work and your family for weeks at a time. The guide dog trainer works with the person right in their neighbourhood. This ensures the dog is up to whatever task is reasonably required and to make sure the fit is the best possible.
OK so far. But I want to try something new. I want to offer my insights as a person who has used guide dogs for the past 33 years. I want to help shape CNIB’s guide dog program so that anyone living with vision loss, no matter if they live in urban, rural, remote or northern communities, will be served in ways that make sense to them.
For these reasons, I’m opening up my life and also that of my family to the invasion of cameras and a wider audience. Yes, my goal is to show the trainers how I train and use my guide dogs myself, but I also want to have some fun by getting involved with the training process of a group of dogs with the hope that one of these energetic pups will become my next guide dog.