The City of Côte Saint-Luc is proud to be hosting the Autism Speaks Canada Dog Walk on Sunday, October 21 (9:30 am to 11:30 am) at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park on Mackle Road. The event goes rain or shine. I cannot think of a better way to start my birthday off.
One in 66 individuals is diagnosed with autism. Autism Speaks Canada aims to raise awareness and fundraise to support family community services and research into causes and better interventions for autism and related conditions.
“We recognize and value that dogs provide unconditional love to all,” said Krista Leitham, the Regional Walk Coordinator. “Specifically, to the family living with autism, dogs also provide important therapeutic support. Both research and pet therapy providers alike support that dogs provide important pet therapy to individuals with autism which help improve their social interaction, increase attention and cooperation, decrease anxiety and provide support for independence skills.”
Our Dog Owners Committee, chaired by Jonathan Goldman, is supporting this wonderful initiative. I urge all dog owners to register with their dogs of course.
“This is the first time ASC will hold an ASC-branded Dog Walk,” said Leitham. “At our signature Walk events across Canada, we have an increasing number of pet therapists participate, in addition to families with trained therapy dogs. The idea for an ASC-branded dog walk is inspired by an ASC supporter in Alberta, a veterinarian with a son on the spectrum and he has organized a local dog walk for the past few years.”
Leitham notes how research supports that dogs (pets) help improve social interaction, increase attention and cooperation, decrease anxiety and provide important tools for independence skills. Research articles are available on the Autism Speaks (US) website, an example is here.
Also, an increasing number of schools are including trained therapy dogs into the classroom pedagogy or after-school programs. This is a true grassroots initiative with local community support. Merchants with dog care services are new to participate at an event like this and welcome engaging with the community by exhibiting their services and leading family-friendly and dog-friendly activities.
The response on social media has been consistently strong. A noted number of community groups and organizations are sharing our posts. We encourage participants to register online so we can best prepare for the number of participants.
Registration is online at (English) www.autismspeaks.ca/dogwalk or (French) www.autismspeaks.ca/promenadedechiens. Event-day registrations are welcome, but online is preferred. The cost is $30 fee per family or team; just one person needs to register to represent the family or team. Registrants with their family or team are encouraged to fundraise. Donations are preferred by credit card online or cash/cheques can be remitted on event day.
Event day activities will include the following:
- Exhibitors: Dog care specialists, local community organizations, each will lead a family and dog-friendly activity.
- Event day contests: Best Dressed Dog, Best Dog Trick, Best Doggie-Owner Look-a-Like, Best Halloween Costume, Best Dog Strut, etc. Contest winners receive a gift.
- Pre-event contest for Best Dog Photo :Registrants are invited to send in a dog photo with the dog’s name and breed, and share their story how their dog is important to their family, especially if they are a family living with autism. The photo and story is posted onto the Montreal Autism Speaks Canada facebook and event Instagram @ascdogwalk leading up to the event. The public vote will be announced on event day.
- Prize Draws: Fundraising Reward tickets are remitted to registrants on event day based on their fundraising. The more you fundraise, the more tickets you receive. On event day, registrants select which Prize Draws to place their tickets towards to increase their chances to win.
- 1 km Dog Walk: To close the event to empower families both directly and indirectly affected with autism.