Non Profit Spotlight: I’m so pleased to present The Southeastern Guide Dogs as my non-profit organization for the month of January. Established in 1982, the mission of the Southeastern Guide Dogs is to create and nurture a partnership between a visually impaired individual and a guide dog, facilitating life’s journey with mobility, independence and dignity. Southeastern Guide Dogs currently has more than 600 active guide dog teams across the country and continues to create more than 70 new teams annually.
Guide Dog Programs:
- Paws for Independence: Partners people with visual impairments with professionally trained guide dogs;
- Paws for Patriots: Partners veterans with visual impairments with guide dogs, Veteran Assistance Dogs with veterans with PTSD, Facility Therapy Dogs at major military medical centers; and
- Gifted Canines: Provides law-enforcement agencies with dogs that show strength in search tendencies, gentle companion dogs with visually impaired children in advance of a guide dog to teach them the joys & responsibilities of dog ownership and ambassador dogs to represent Southeastern Guide Dogs.
What’s their secret? Fine breeding, respect, repetition…and plenty of love. Southeastern Guide Dogs has matched over 2,700 guide dogs with students whose lives are changed forever after they leave their school. And it all starts with their puppies. They breed intelligent and friendly Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers and “goldadors” (a delightful blend of Labrador and golden retriever) in clean, well-ventilated kennels. The puppies romp in the playground, frolic with volunteers, and enjoy fresh air and exercise. They eat a healthy, vet-approved diet. Southeastern Guide Dogs’ own veterinarians and veterinary nurses staff their clinic and provide timely medical care. From an early age, the puppies enjoy intentional socialization that exposes them to motions, sounds, and surfaces. Puppy-hugging sessions teach them to love all shapes and sizes of humans. Volunteers and kennel staff help them run and play. After weaning, volunteer ”puppy raisers” open their homes to the puppies to teach them manners, basic obedience, social skills and expose them to the wider world.
Teaching obedience — and disobedience, if necessary. At about 14 months old, the dogs begin intensive harness training with certified trainers and skilled apprentices. These clever dogs learn more than 40 commands, including intelligent disobedience, which means disobeying commands that place a human in danger. Trainers gain trust and teach obedience through respect, repetition, and love. And the dogs love the attention!
Taking it home. After harness training, dogs are carefully matched by personality and gait to visually impaired students. For 26 days, students live, work, and learn together on campus with their new guide dog. After an emotion-packed graduation and fond farewells, the association follows up with the guide dog pairs for life. They also offer home-based placement services for students with special needs. From breeding to whelping, training to graduation, healthy and happy puppies are the foundation of Southeastern Guide Dogs. To learn more about this wonderful organization, to volunteer or donate…. Please visit their website at www.guidedogs.org
Links: Here are a few books about dogs that were named best sellers in 2013:
- The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
- A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron.
- Chaser: Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words by John W Pilley Jr., Ph.D., and Hilary Hinzmann
- 101 Dog Tricks: Step by Step Activities to Engage, Challenge, and Bond With Your Dog by Kyra Sundance and Calcy (yes, the dog gets writing credit)