April 21, 2008 10:55 ET

Guide Dogs Help Deliver Mail With First-Ever Canadian Braille Stamp

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 21, 2008) - Canada Post will issue its first ever Canadian Braille stamp featuring Guide Dogs. The domestic-rate stamp will have the denomination in both print and in Braille. The stamp is being issued to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Montreal Association for the Blind which is also being recognized with a Commemorative Envelope.

"Canada Post is committed to providing Canadians with innovative and interesting products," says Bob Waite, Chairman of the Canadian Stamp Advisory Committee and Senior vice-president, Corporate Social Responsibility, Canada Post. "We provide vital communication links to all Canadian households and to offer a Braille stamp reinforces our commitment to meet the needs of all Canadians."

With thousands of soldiers returning from World War I blinded by poison gas, a German doctor named Gerhard Stalling explored the notion of training dogs to guide the wounded men. His research in training methods led to the opening of his first guide dog school in Germany in 1916. The school prospered and some 600 dogs were trained each year. Word spread and soon trained dogs were assisting people with vision loss in Britain, France, Spain, Italy, the USA, Canada and Soviet Union.

The most common breeds of guide dogs are Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers; chosen for their intelligence, size, and temperament. A calm disposition, a high level of initiation, and a strong desire to please are all characteristics expected of guide dogs.

Six to eight week old puppies head off to foster families for their training. The foster families expose the puppies to as many environments as possible while testing their response to distractions. The puppies will then spend four weeks with their future partner, and then undergo final testing before receiving their certification. Guide Dogs often retire at age ten.

Designers Stephen Boake and Andrew Perro of Toronto's Designwerke sought to keep the stamp's design simple and give prominence to the dog in order to reinforce the intimate connection to the human partner. The yellow Labrador Retriever on the stamp is a Canine Vision Dog Guide from Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides. The addition of Braille created various printing challenges, as did the increase in font size of the denomination, another incorporated element to assist vision-impaired individuals. Additionally, the text on the stamp booklet and Official First Day cover were printed in a larger than usual typeface in respect for the needs of individuals with varying degrees of vision impairment.

The 52-cent stamp, available as of April 21, measures 38 mm x 27 mm (horizontal) with simulated perforations. Lowe-Martin printed 3.5 million stamps, to be sold in booklets of ten. The self-adhesive stamp will be printed using lithography in four colours on Tullis Russel paper, with Braille embossing by Montreal's Choquet Engraving Inc. They are general tagged on all sides. The Official First Day Cover will bear the cancel OTTAWA ON.

Additional information about Canadian stamps can be found in the Newsroom section of Canada Post's website, and photos of this new stamp is in the Newsroom's Photo Centre. Stamps and Official First Day Covers will be available at participating post offices, or can be ordered online by following the links at Canada Post's website or by mail order from the National Philatelic Centre. From Canada and the USA, call toll-free: 1 800 565-4362, and from other countries, call: 902 863-6550.


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