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Introducing Guide Dog Users of Canada!

Editor's Note: Editor's Note: Devon Wilkins is GDUC's Vice-President and Public Affairs Director. She lives in Collingwood, Ontario.

In the late 1990's, a group of guide dog users, most of whom resided in Ottawa, resolved to resurrect the organization that had slipped into suspended animation on the untimely death of its former president, Mary Spice. In its infancy, it was known as CAGDU--the Canadian Association of Guide Dog Users--but when CAGDU's incorporation papers couldn't be found, the dedicated group was left with no choice but to set about founding an entirely new organization: GDUC--Guide Dog Users of Canada.

One of the goals listed at the very top of GDUC's statement of activities was the establishment of a Wellness Fund:

"GDUC will pay for receipted expenses of needy guide dog teams to cover extraordinary expenses that cannot be met by the person who is blind", the statement pledged. "GDUC will establish an application and review procedures with criteria designed to measure need and ability to pay. GDUC envisages that payments will be made to the service provider and not to the individual person who is blind. Financial assistance will be granted on a case-by-case basis for expenses such as: emergency veterinary care, including surgery; cost of care and treatment of guide dogs injured on the job; cost of care of annual inoculations of the guide dog; cost of medication for long-term treatment of conditions affecting the guide dog's ability to work; accessibility modifications to accommodate a guide dog, such as cost of dog run constructions and work place changes, such as the establishment of relieving areas; and assistance with the cost of care for guide dogs in the event of illness of the guide dog user."

Thanks to a lunch and silent auction which raised $12,000, the Wellness Fund has already been established. Guide dog users may contact the eligibility committee via E-mail at penny.leclair@rogers.com.

Another goal that has already been realized is the establishment of an E-mail listservice. It's a place where guide dog users exchange information on such topics of interest as canine health, access, legislation and human interest stories. It's also an excellent place to go when you're in need of peer support.

To subscribe to the GDUC listserv, send your message to listserv@listserv.uottawa.ca. Leave the subject line blank. In the oneline body of the message, write: subscribe gducl. You will receive a reply asking you to confirm your desire to join the list.

rising from the ashes of GDUC's predecessor is the newsletter known as Two By Four. It will be published twice a year on cassette, in large print and via E-mail.

The list of goals still being worked on by members of GDUC includes, but is not limited to, the dissemination of educational materials; the establishment of national and regional workshops; the fostering of demonstration and research projects; the establishment of both an accessible web site and a toll-free hotline; the establishment of a national registry of guide dog teams; and the provision of workshops to individuals who are blind on such topics as how to determine whether getting a guide dog is the way to go, guide dog etiquette, and canine first-aid.

Currently, membership in Guide Dog Users of Canada is free. If you would like more information, or if you would like to become a member, contact Box 1431, Station B, Ottawa, ON K1P 5P6.

As guide dog users, we all share common problems. GDUC invites you to become part of the solution