There’s something therapeutic about enjoying the waterfront on Lake Simcoe with your best furry pal. This summer you have a chance to embark on a tour with your pooch from Centennial Beach in Barrie, around Big Bay Point to Leonard’s Beach in support of COPE Service Dogs.
On Saturday, July 27, paddlers are invited to join a 25, 10, 5 and 2 km stand-up paddle board tour along Lake Simcoe. Kayaks and canoes are also welcome, or you can show your support from shore along the route, says Jane Boake, Founder of COPE Service Dogs and Canines in the Classroom.
“COPE Service Dogs not only train dogs for facilities and people with disabilities, it also helps keep kids engaged in school by involving them in the training process of the dogs. It’s this aspect of the charity that inspired Buddy Paddles Simcoe,” says Boake.
Last year Boake, and her dog Buddy paddled the shores of Lake Simcoe to celebrate Buddy’s retirement after 13 years of service. He helped to improve student mental health, and taught job skills in Canines in the Classroom, shares Boake.
“It’s in this spirit that paddlers are invited to join this one-day event to raise money to help COPE dogs benefit more youth. After they’re trained, the COPE dogs impact our community in so many ways. Not only are they partnered with people who have disabilities, they provide therapy and comfort in places like Hospice Simcoe, Child Advocacy Centres as well as being Reading Buddies for children, and visiting seniors’ homes,” explains Boake.
At the end of the tour, everyone is invited to a free after-party from 1 – 4 p.m. at Leonard’s Beach in Innisfil where there’ll be food, balloon twisting, COPE dogs, and agility demonstrations. Boake says your dog is welcome to attend and can learn how to ride a paddle board like Buddy.
There are other opportunities to support COPE Service Dogs such as hosting an event or being a volunteer. People are needed to be Puppy Fosters, while the dogs are in training, says Boake. COPE Service Dogs currently have brand new puppies that need fosters. They also require drivers of the COPE van, so they can get the dogs to school and training as well as to events.
“COPE dogs are bred through our breeding program, which is part of an accredited North American service dog breeding co-operative. They’re trained by the students in Canines in the Classroom, and by COPE trainers. Some of the Canines in the Classroom students go on to work with dogs as a career or train their own dogs,” explains Boake.
If you don’t want to paddle board, but you’d like to support COPE, you can fundraise on behalf of Buddy. “For every $50 raised, your name is entered into a draw for an Infinity Paddleboard,” enlightens Boake.
Also, both Centennial Beach in Barrie and Leonard’s Beach in Innisfil have Mobi-Mats installed, a lightweight non-slip roll out mat that allows easy accessibility for everyone.