On International Guide Dog Day, Robyne Adlam fondly recalls how a dog named Candy changed her life. Robyne was the first recipient of a BC & Alberta Guide Dog two-and-a-half decades ago.
“She was amazing,” says Robyne. “She opened my world up and made so many things easier and possible for me. Her first assignment was to be my co-counsellor at a summer camp for kids. My cabin was the one to be in because it was the only one with a dog.”
As Robyne completed her university degree, Candy was by her side. As Robyne walked across the graduation stage, Candy was there. Candy also had the honour of being the ring bearer at Robyne’s wedding.
All these years later, Robyne is still part of the BC and Alberta Guide Dogs’ family, recently welcoming Tasha, her fourth Guide Dog, to their Abbotsford home.
Since its inception, BC & Alberta Guide Dogs have graduated 139 Guide Dogs. In addition, they have placed 62 Autism Service Dogs and 88 OSI-PTSD Service Dogs.
“Being a part of BC & Alberta Guide Dogs for so long has been such a pleasure. The four dogs I have received from them have truly changed my life. I am so grateful to everyone involved in this organization for the ability to have some independence, autonomy, and companionship through these amazing dogs.”
William (Bill) Thornton, CEO of BC & Alberta Guide Dogs, says the public’s need for guide dogs continues to grow. He also serves as the International Guide Dog Federation Chair, where International Guide Dog Day was initially launched on April 26, 1989. International Guide Dog Day is celebrated on the last Wednesday in April each year.
There are 97 IGDF members in 34 countries, with 674 Guide Dog Mobility Instructors and more than 33,550 individual volunteers.
Bill says International Guide Dog Day is an opportunity to celebrate the work of Guide Dogs worldwide and raise awareness of the importance of Guide Dog services to help people who are blind or visually impaired enjoy life on their terms. It’s a driving principle behind the work at BC & Alberta Guide Dogs.
“As an organization, we are extremely grateful for the past 25 years,” says Bill. “None of this happens without the countless hours of sacrifice thanks to our volunteers. Looking back at the hundreds of lives changed because of a united effort by many to bring Guide and Service Dogs to those who need them is pretty humbling.”
“For us, Robyne represents the Silver Jubilee perfectly. She was our very first graduate, has received dogs from us over the years and is one of our recent Guide Dog recipients,” says Bill. “We first met Robyne when she was 18 years old, and we’ve had the privilege to watch her raise a family and experience many of life’s milestones. As an organization, it’s incredibly uplifting to be a part of her story.”
Bill says it is essential for people to recognize the significance of International Guide Dog Day to understand how lives dramatically improve with the help of a certified Guide Dog.
It’s a point Robyne reiterates.
“I want to take this time to thank all the donors, volunteers, trainers, and everyone involved. What they are doing is making a huge difference to those lucky enough to receive one of these amazing dogs.”
International Guide Dog Federation Member Organizations Facts and Figures*
*As of December 31, 2021:
- 97 IGDF Members in 34 countries
- 22,939 Guide Dogs currently working
- 2.405 Guide Dogs trained during 2021
- 18,907 Follow-up/aftercare visits
- 5,589 individual employees
- 674 Guide Dog Mobility Instructors
- 208 Apprentice/trainee Guide Dog Mobility Instructors
- 287 Guide Dog Trainers
- 120 Apprentice/trainee Guide Dog Trainers
- 33,551 individual volunteers