At eight weeks old, Willow arrived at Toronto Pearson Airport from Australia in May 2017, with three of her littermates. The sweet and gentle Golden Retriever was immediately placed with a puppy raiser in Scarborough.
"When we introduced Willow to the puppy raiser, she snuggled right up to her. She is very sweet, affectionate and gentle – a little softie," says Karen Hanlon, Manager, Canine Development and Training, CNIB Guide Dogs.
The team soon decided that, although she was not confident enough to be a guide dog, she would be a perfect Ambassador Dog for CNIB Guide Dogs.
"She loves the outdoor environment, so we knew she would settle in nicely at CNIB Lake Joe, an accessible camp that provides a unique blend of recreation and skills development for Canadians with sight loss," says Karen.
As an Ambassador Dog, Willow's role is to help raise awareness about guide dogs, introduce people to the benefits of guide dogs, and ensure societal acceptance and appreciation for guide dogs.
"Willow is a great addition to the team. We've always been guest-centric, but she has made us more aware of the programming we should be offering for guide dog partnerships," says Eugene Chong, Manager, CNIB Lake Joe. "We've also found that just having her here is calming and therapeutic for both guests and staff. She's got the perfect disposition."