About 100 dogs on leashes, sniffing along in search of dog treats concealed in plastic Easter eggs.
That will be the scene in Guelph’s Centennial Park on Friday, as National Service Dogs hosts its annual Easter Egg Hunt for Dogs, a fundraising event. There are eight such events across the country, seven in Ontario, one in Alberta.
“It’s an Easter egg hunt like other Easter egg hunts, only it’s for the family dog,” said Judy Frank, NSD manager of fundraising. “There’s no chocolate involved. The treats are Milk-Bones and other doggy treats. We put a Milk-Bone and prize sticker into each egg.”
There are three prize levels, small, medium and large, she said. Once all eggs have been collected, the stickers are affixed to a prize card and turned in to claim prizes.
The entry fee is a donation to the cause of $25, and participants are also encouraged to collect pledges and donate more.
Register in advance at www.nsd.on.ca, or show up at Centennial Park, 377 College Ave. W. at 10 a.m. Friday. The hunt starts at 11 a.m. sharp.
“It’s a fundraiser, so it’s a pledged event,” she added. “Anyone that wants to collect additional pledges, we love that.”
A trip by rail to Montreal is up for grabs to the largest pledge earner.
“In Guelph were prepared for 100 people and 100 dogs,” Frank said, adding that Guelph is one of the smaller events. “We have a goal across all eight cities of $100,000.”
National Service Dogs is in its 20th year. Back in 1996 it began training and placing service dogs with children with autism. It was the first organization in the world to train dogs to assist autistic children.
“It was so successful, and that’s how National Service Dogs was born,” she added. NSD works with autism focused agencies around the world, and also places dogs with people with post-traumatic stress, as well as training dogs for treatment professionals in canine intervention scenarios, whether in school settings, dentist or psychiatrist offices.
“We’re a charity, so all the money we use to operate is entirely by donation, and through fundraisers like this,” Frank said. “Easter Egg Hunt of Dogs is our largest annual fundraiser.”