Southeastern Guide Dogs: Enriching Lives, One Dog at a Time
All work and no play makes anyone grumpy—human or canine. Southeastern Guide Dogs has a program in place to make sure all of the dogs in training get playtime too.
Earlier in the week, we posted a picture on our Facebook page of two dogs cuddling in their run in the Training Kennel.
While it got lots of “a-w-w” and “so cute,” some people commented that the dogs shouldn’t be made to lie on the hard floor. We agree! That is why they have raised dog beds in each run, so they have a choice of where to rest.
Since everyone was so passionate about the care our dogs receive, we thought we’d share information about our Canine Enrichment program to illustrate just how pampered and well cared-for our dogs really are.
There’s no question about it, guide dogs work hard. They are responsible for someone’s safety and that’s a lot of responsibility for four paws. Guide dog training is also difficult, learning everything they will need to be the best guide they can be.
Staffers in the kennels found a way to take the stress out of kennel life and training for the dogs as they work their way through the program. Southeastern’s Canine Enrichment program started small and has grown as the results seen are remarkable.
So you may be asking, “Just what is Canine Enrichment?” Well, Canine Care Technicians and volunteers take the dogs one-by-one and spend quality time with them doing a variety of activities. The dogs may get a massage in a nice, quiet, lavender-scented room, getting all their kinks worked out. Or they may get to go to the play yard where there are obstacles for them to climb, puzzles to solve, and giant balls to chase – a dog’s dream.
Since Southeastern’s dogs are all working breeds, it is very important to keep them occupied and entertained to ensure they are happy. There are a number of different puzzles, or developmental activities that can help the dogs to sharpen their minds. These puzzles have treats hidden within them and the dog has to figure out how to get at the treat – a number of them have spinning pieces that when turned in the correct manner release a treat. One of the puzzles could even act to slow down a fast eater.
Since Canine Enrichment started, the staff has noticed that the dogs are more relaxed and the kennel is even quieter – apparently the aroma therapy they are doing has a great calming effect on the dogs.
Another part of Canine Enrichment includes weekends away – volunteers pick up one of the dogs and take it home for the weekend where the dog can just be a dog and enjoy the comforts of home.
So you can see, our dogs receive lots of love and attention along with their valuable training. Lucky dogs, if you ask me, it’s been ages since I’ve had a massage!