New West graduation celebrates guide dogs

A special graduation took place in New Westminster Wednesday for a guide dog and their handler.

Ellis Parsons from Vancouver graduated as part of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind’s Guide Dogs Class of 2024. Alongside their black labrador retriever Jazz, they’re one of 23 graduating partnerships across Canada.

Parsons says connecting with Jazz through the guide dog program has had a profound impact on her life.

“I think that having a guide dog, if it’s something that you’re interested in, is definitely worth exploring,” Parsons said.

“It’s nice to have that constant companion with you wherever you go and… they’re amazing in terms of helping you get to where you’re going and having that company along the way.”

The event coincided with International Guide Dog Day, which intends to celebrate the impact these highly-trained canines have on people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision.

It takes two years for puppies to become guide dogs, the institute adds.