TORONTO -- It’s not what you typically expect to pick up at a drive-thru, but more than a dozen foster families in the GTA were recently able to collect their new canine companions by car. 

“This is just their first day of their life as a future dog guide,” says Maria Galindo, communications manager for the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides. 

The drive-thru event allowed 13 standard poodle puppies to start their journey to one day becoming a dog guide. One by one, at the breeding grounds in Breslau, the pups were picked up by the people who will be caring for them over the next year or so. 

The Lions Foundation of Canada says this is their first litter of puppies in almost a year, due to COVID-19. 

“We had to pause our breeding program for a bit,” explains Maria Galindo, communications manager for the Lions Foundation of Canada. “We started back up in January, thankfully. And now we know how to deliver safely to families!” 

Many of the foster families have raised puppies before. 

“This is our fifth dog that we’ll be seeing from a couple weeks old all the way through ‘til they’re 12-14 months,” says Abbie Little. 

“He’s number 10, actually,” Ellen McCleary tells CTV News. “I’ve fostered since 2013 and have raised 9 other poodles.” 

The dog guides offered by the Lions Foundation of Canada are considered ‘essential’ for Canadians in need. 

“For a lot of them it’s life and death,” adds Galindo. “These dogs provide safely, mobility and independence for someone that is blind, for someone that is deaf or hard of hearing. Someone that is diabetic and is going through a low.” 

Those picking up their foster puppies say they’re happy to be giving back to their communities. 

“The recipients of these dogs are just so grateful, and it makes you know any pain of giving them back so worth it,” says Jake Langstaff. 

“I love fostering, because it’s life changing,” says McCleary. “Oh my goodness, the difference it makes in people’s lives is amazing.”

It’s a different kind of curbside pick-up, with a goal of giving back and, eventually, delivering a life-changing companion to someone else. 

“For me it’s just being a part of something bigger than ourselves,” says Little. “I also love the puppy kisses.”