Nunavut’s first guide dog

A guide dog helps a visually-impaired person find curbs, doors, stairs, and other landmarks. Photo courtesy of B.C. Guide Dog Services.

A guide dog helps a visually-impaired person find curbs, doors, stairs,
and other landmarks.
Photo courtesy of B.C. Guide Dog Services.

Adapted from CBC Radio
and information courtesy of B.C. Guide Dog Services
and Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind

Level 1

Noah Papatsie is a very happy man.
He lives in Nunavut in northern Canada.
Noah has a beautiful new dog.
The dog’s name is Xeno.
Xeno is a guide dog.
Guide dogs help people
who have a problem with their eyesight.
We say these people are blind
or visually-impaired.

Noah Papatsie with Xeno Photo by Karen Hanlon, Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind

Noah Papatsie with Xeno
Photo by Karen Hanlon, Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind

Noah’s story
It is the year 2000.
Noah makes videos about news stories.
One day he has an accident.
Video lights blow up in his face.
Doctors try to save his eyesight.
They tell Noah that he is blind now.

Bad news
Noah is very sad.
“I really didn’t know what to do,
am I going to lose everything?
Am I going to lose my children?
Am I going to lose my friends?”
He said, “I really didn’t know what to do.”

Noah tries
For years Noah uses a cane
to walk in Iqaluit town.
Iqaluit is the capital of Nunavut.
It is -30º C in the winter.
There are no sidewalks.
There is snow and ice everywhere.
Life is very hard for Noah.
One day he contacts
Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind.
He tells them he needs help.

Noah Papatsie trains with Xeno at the Parliament Buildings, Ottawa. Photo by Karen Hanlon, Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind

Noah Papatsie trains with Xeno at the Parliament Buildings, Ottawa.
Photo by Karen Hanlon, Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind

Xeno’s story
Noah meets Xeno in Ottawa.
For four weeks in Ottawa,
Noah and Xeno work together.
Then they go to Iqaluit with a trainer.
Xeno needs shoes for the snow.
The dog needs a special coat.

Xeno wears his special vest to protect him from the cold.  Photo by Karen Hanlon, Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind

Xeno wears his special vest to protect him from the cold.
Photo by Karen Hanlon, Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind

Noah’s life changes
Noah is very happy with Xeno.
Noah’s children love Xeno, too.
Noah says, “He’s like my buddy,
a buddy from the sky,
almost like an angel from the sky who fell….”
Noah says Xeno is happy, too.

It takes two years to train a guide dog. Volunteers teach the puppies basic skills  like "sit" and "stay."  The dogs practice  riding buses and walking through  malls and restaurants. Photo courtesy of B.C. Guide Dog Services

It takes two years to train a guide dog. Volunteers teach the puppies basic skills
like “sit” and “stay.” The dogs practice riding buses and walking through
malls and restaurants.
Photo courtesy of B.C. Guide Dog Services

B.C. Guide Dog Services
Bill Thornton is the head of
B.C. Guide Dog Services in Delta, B.C.
The Services have a special program
for youths ages 13 to 18.
These dogs go to school with their young owners.
A trainer from the Services
helps other students and teachers.
The trainer tells them not to feed the guide dog.
The trainer tells them not to distract the dog.
Thornton said at one time there were
four guide dogs in one high school.
To learn more about this program, look at the links in the PDF.

Angell is a student at SFU. Her guide dog Kobe goes to school with her. Photo courtesy of B.C. Guide Dog Services

Angell is a student at SFU. Her guide dog Kobe goes to school with her.
Photo courtesy of B.C. Guide Dog Services

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