Singing the praises of Canine Vision
by James Laking
One member of our choir at St. George’s Church in McAdam doesn’t sing, but he does occasionally groan during sermons, which prompted our former rector, the Rev. Wendy Amos-Binks, to ask him if the sermon was too long. He ignored her, but that isn’t as rude as it sounds. Porter is my constant companion –– a chocolate Labrador retriever and a Lions Foundation of Canada trained Canine Vision dog. His monogrammed black leather harness and leash make his status official.
Most Sundays my wife Margaret drives us to church, but when she has to work, Porter and I walk. When he realizes we are going to church, he increases his speed to the point that I sometimes have to say “Easy Porter they won’t start without us”.
Once we get to the church, Porter takes us to the door that leads to the choir room, then he waits while I get my gown on and pick up my case. Then we head up the steps to the main floor.
We hand in our church envelope and make our way up the aisle and then up the steps to the choir pew. Porter finds his spot and waits for his reward for a job well done –– a cookie. He stays in the pew by himself when we go the communion rail and staying in place earns him another small cookie.
When the service is over, we get up and do the routine in reverse –– down the steps, along the aisle, greet the rector, downstairs to the choir room and get ready to go home.
People are amazed at how quiet he is in church and some even tell me he behaves better than their children!
Canine Vision dog guides are one of the safest methods of mobility for blind and visually impaired people. They make loyal choir members too; Porter has attended regularly since 2002.