WILMINGTON — For a pre-convention activity, members of the Alumni Association of Pilot Dogs (AAPD) group were welcomed to a Wilmington-area trail riding and horse boarding facility to pet and ride a horse at an indoor arena.
Members of the pilot dogs association are, of course, sight-impaired so after they mounted a horse, a person led the horse while another person walked alongside.
The 59th annual convention of AAPD is being held Friday and Saturday in Wilmington, with the Wilmington Lions Club serving as hosts for the fourth time. Members of AAPD are graduates of Pilot Dogs Inc. located in Columbus. This dog-guide training school provides highly trained dog guides to blind and sight-impaired individuals at no cost to the recipient.
The indoor arena at Trail M Boarding and Guest Farm on Cuba Road was just the place to gather on a brisk Thursday. Three horses were ready for the guests and their canine companions. AAPD members would first pet a horse and later, with the assistance of a wooden platform and Lions members or farm staff would get on the horse and take several trips around the arena ring.
There were guests from as far away as Tucson, Arizona and Seattle, Washington.
One of the wranglers — for this activity, somebody who walks ahead of the horse and handles the reins to lead the horse and rider — was 2016 Wilmington College agriculture graduate Liz Barrett. She started working at the Trail M Boarding and Guest Farm a couple weeks earlier, moving here from Michigan.
There were a number of activities planned for the convention itself. On Friday morning, a guest speaker from the National Weather Bureau visited and spoke about disaster preparedness when there are dogs involved.
After lunch, Janet Schultz with D&G’s Paws and Claws Snack Shack was the speaker.
Later, the Wilmington Lions Club sponsored a Friday evening picnic.
“At that time, we will be doing the Tall Tales contest so get your story ready. It can be a tall tale or an actual experience that you have had with your dog,” states the event preview.
On Saturday from 9 to about 11 a.m., there will be a dog obstacle course and obedience competition on Clinton County Courthouse Square in downtown Wilmington.
An AAPD business meeting will be conducted later, followed by a Saturday evening banquet.
All the while, it’s a time to catch up and reconnect with fellow AAPD graduates.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.