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Tamara Tedesco, communications coordinator for CNIB is seen with her guide dog Pike in Vancouver, B.C., in this photo from 2011.

JONATHAN HAYWARD

The donor: Jim Gauthier

The gift: $50,000

The cause: The Canadian National Institute for the Blind

Story continues below advertisement

The reason: To start a guide-dog program in Winnipeg

Jim Gauthier and his wife, Joyce, have always been animal lovers and they donated generously to their local humane society in Winnipeg.

Ms. Gauthier died four years ago and Mr. Gauthier, who owns four car dealerships in the city, was eager to maintain their commitment to animal charities.

Last year, the CNIB approached him about developing a guide-dog program in Manitoba. Currently, blind people in the province have to travel to breeders in Ontario or the United States to get a trained guide dog and they often have to wait up to four years.

Mr. Gauthier jumped at the chance and contributed $50,000 toward the cost of raising and training Winnipeg's first guide dog. The new puppy, a golden retriever named Jocie in honour of Ms. Gauthier, is expected to arrive in Winnipeg this month, along with five other pups, from a breeder in Australia. The CNIB is seeking donors to cover the cost of training the other dogs.

"When you hear the story of a person who can't see and how important these dogs are to them, you just want to get involved," said Mr. Gauthier, 79, who still runs the dealerships with his son and grandchildren. "We just felt there was a real need for this in Winnipeg."

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