This seeing eye dog, Irv, helps one Red Deer man with his every day activities. Photo contributed

This seeing eye dog, Irv, helps one Red Deer man with his every day activities. Photo contributed

Red Deer walk to help provide dog guides to Canadians with disability

Switching from a cane to a canine changed one Red Deer man’s life.

Gary Hiney has had retina pigmentosa all his life, but the condition got worse about six years ago. That’s when Hiney’s life changed: he could no longer work or drive, or do any of his daily activities without a cane.

But then Irv, a canine vision guide dog, came along about three years ago.

“It’s life changing. It not only gives you confidence, but a sense of balance,” Hiney explained.

“You build this bond with your dog.”

The Red Deer man said none of this would’ve been possible without volunteers and businesses such as Pet Valu that support Lions Foundation of Canada – a national charity whose mission is to assist Canadians with a medical or physical disability by providing them with dog guides at no cost.

Hiney and Irv will be at the Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides on May 26 in Red Deer showing support for the event that helps to raise, train and place dog guides.

While each dog guide costs an average of $25,000, they are provided free of charge to qualifying Canadians.

“We’re very fortunate to be living in Canada where this is possible,” said Hiney.

Today, the 63-year-old Red Deerian is more confident to do everyday activities. This past winter, he went to Portugal with Irv to get away from the Alberta winter, something he says wouldn’t have been possible without his seeing eye dog.

“He got me over there and back.”

He describes Irv as sociable and quiet. When the harness is on, Irv is on the job, but when that harness comes off, the three-and-a-half-year-old companion is like any other dog.

“When he is out of the harness, I take him to the dog park, he’s just a dog. He plays with other dogs, he loves it,” he explained.

Tammy Dahl, who is hosting the Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides in Red Deer, said she has seen Irv mature into a guide dog and help Hiney.

“It’s so hard to not just want to hug his dog. He’s a black lab and he’s just beautiful, and so kind. But you realize this dog is basically helping Gary get through life and get to Point A to B,” she said, noting petting service dogs is a no-no.

By participating in the nation-wide walk, you can help provide life-changing dog guides to Canadians with disabilities, Dahl noted.

The event has raised more than $17 million to date across the country.

Dahl hopes the turnout at the third annual walk in Red Deer is higher than the past two years, as more central Albertans learn about the event.

The walk supports canine vision dog guides, hearing dog guides, service dog guides, autism assistance dog guides, diabetic alert dog guides and support dog guides.

There’s no registration fee. Dahl said money is raised through sponsorhsips and donations.

Those looking to register can do so online at walkfordogguidescom. Registration is also open the day of the event starting at 9 a.m., followed by the walk at 10 a.m. at Three Mile Bend.



mamta.lulla@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Ella Stoner, five, is ready to cut off her hair and donate it to A Child’s Voice Foundation. (Photo by Lauren Stoner Photography)
Central Alberta girl to donate her ‘princess hair’ to A Child’s Voice Foundation

A five-year-old girl from Rimbey has never had a haircut before. Now,… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr
Central Alberta MLAs comment on UCP members kicked out of caucus

A pair of central Alberta MLAs have commented on the two United… Continue reading

Contributed photo
Johanna Hannaford: Central Alberta designer offers inclusive clothing

By Stephanie Rhodes Local designer Johanna Hannaford’s inclusive clothing creations are smashing… Continue reading

Red life-ring with splash
Started from the bottom: How a family business started and grew in central Alberta

By Carina Moran We started our business in the basement of our… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Zack MacEwen (71), Travis Boyd (72) and Jimmy Vesey (24) celebrate a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during third period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 15, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Big third period lifts Vancouver Canucks to 4-1 victory over Edmonton Oilers

Canucks 4 Oilers 1 EDMONTON — Matthew Highmore scored twice in the… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Canada’s vaccine rollout operation won’t miss a beat with new military leader: expert

DARTMOUTH — The sudden departure of the senior military officer in charge… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Quebec premier argues province has power to amend constitution in letter to Trudeau

MONTREAL — Quebec Premier François Legault has written a letter to Prime… Continue reading

A demonstrator stands in front of riot police officers during a banned protest in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in Paris, Saturday, May, 15, 2021. Marches in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were being held Saturday in a dozen French cities, but the focus was on Paris where riot police countered organizers who said they would defy a ban on the protest, ordered on the grounds that it risked turning violent. (AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh)
Police fire tear gas on banned Palestinian march in Paris

PARIS (AP) — French riot police fired tear gas and used water… Continue reading

Photo by The Associated Press
NYC Pride parade bans police; Gay officers ‘disheartened’

NEW YORK (AP) — Organizers of New York City’s Pride events said… Continue reading

Welcoming cowboy boots at the historic and colourful Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne near Drumheller, Alta., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. The bar and hotel are up for sale. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘It was a going concern’: Remaining bar and hotel in Alberta coal ghost town for sale

WAYNE, Alta. — Built during the First World War, it survived the… Continue reading

A letter from a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 is shown in an undated handout photo. A team of researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to solve the mystery of whether a letter in a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 was indeed from a young victim of Titanic shipwreck or simply a hoax. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, N. Beaudry, UQAR *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Real or hoax? Quebec scholars probe mystery letter allegedly from Titanic passenger

MONTREAL — Researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to… Continue reading

Minister of Transport Marc Garneau takes part in a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication between the federal Transport Department and the Canadian Transportation Agency regarding passenger refunds throws into question the independence of the CTA, an arm’s-length body. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Emails reveal close communication between government, transport regulator on refunds

OTTAWA — Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication… Continue reading

Most Read