Guide dog graduation ceremony held in Vancouver
VANCOUVER -- At a special ceremony in Vancouver Friday, new graduates in caps and gowns celebrated a landmark achievement.
But this was not a normal graduation. For starters, half of the graduates had four legs.
Five pairs of dogs and humans celebrated the completion of their courses with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.
The graduating partnerships in Vancouver were just some of the 25 pairs graduating at ceremonies across the country Friday. Other graduations were held in Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, and St. John's, Nfld.
Dogs in the CNIB program go into one of three career paths, working as guide dogs, ambassador dogs or buddy dogs.
According to the CNIB, guide dogs are service dogs that foster independence for people who ae blind or partially sighted. Ambassador dogs are animals that partner with CNIB Foundation staff members or volunteers to promote the organization at community events, and buddy dogs teach children how to care for an animal, making it an easier transition for them to work with a guide dog in the future.
Participants in the Vancouver graduation ceremony included four buddy dogs and their humans, plus one guide dog partnerships.
Four of the graduating pairs came from cities around B.C., and the fifth made the journey to Vancouver from Calgary.
More than 1.5 million Canadians live with sight loss, according to the CNIB. That includes more than 250,000 B.C. residents.
"People with sight loss often say having a guide dog is a transformational experience," said Angela Bonfanti, vice president of the CNIB Foundation, in a news release. "Being part of a guide dog team provides mobility, safety and confidence, leading to increased independence and a sense of connection with the world for those who choose to work in partnership with a guide dog."