We Want You! To Volunteer
Looking for something fun to do over the summer break? How about volunteering at Southeastern Guide Dogs?
It takes somewhere in the neighborhood of 368 people to breed, whelp, raise and train a guide dog for Southeastern Guide Dogs. Wonder how they do it? Well, it is all thanks to the support of a group of very loyal volunteers.
Puppy Raisers give of themselves tirelessly for more than a year so that these wonderful dogs may one day be provided to a visually impaired individual all at no charge. But, those aren’t the only volunteers who play an integral part in Southeastern’s mission. Here is a snapshot of the different volunteer opportunities available at Southeastern Guide Dogs.
Breeder Host Homes
How would you like to give of yourself simply by just loving and caring for a dog? In order to produce the traits required for successful guide dogs, Southeastern manages their own breeding colony of dogs, selected specifically for their intelligence, temperament, hardiness, soundness and trainability. The dogs in the breeding program are not housed on campus, so they need loving homes in which to live when they don’t have business at the school. Breeder hosts open their homes and hearts to care for these special dogs during their reproductive years and are required to live within 100 miles of the Palmetto campus so that they may return the dogs when their service is required or when it’s time for puppies to be delivered. After the dogs have completed the breeding program, many host families adopt the dogs and continue to enjoy their company as a family pet for years to come.
Ambassador Dog Handlers
Would you like to spend your spare time spreading Southeastern’s mission and possibly brighten someone’s day? If so, being an Ambassador Dog Handler may be right up your alley. Ambassador Dogs and their handlers are the face of Southeastern Guide Dogs in public, representing the organization at myriad local events, speaking to groups wanting to learn more about the program and services. They also visit nursing homes, hospitals, hospice homes, schools and the like to bring that special unconditional love of the four-legged variety. Dogs for this program are specially selected for their exceptional manners in public and their empathetic demeanor.
The Southeastern Guide Dogs campus offers numerous volunteer opportunities tailored just for your skill set. Enjoy working outside and getting your hands dirty? The grounds crew can always use a hand! Really love puppies? “Hugger Helpers” spend their time on campus making sure the puppies are always safe and sound and volunteers in the Early Puppy Socialization Program give the pups a head start on things they may come across when sent off to their Puppy Raisers. Love our dogs? Help out in our Kennel Enrichment program and spend time playing with, grooming, and exercising the minds of our dogs-in-training. Whiz at organization? Volunteers in the administration office help to keep things running smoothly and efficiently. Like to meet new people and make them feel at home? Our Student Enrichment Program strives to give the students the best possible experience while in the 26-day intensive training course on campus. Volunteers spend time with the students during down time from training to foster the relaxed, friendly atmosphere for which Southeastern is known.
Dog Walkers & Puppy Huggers
Want to spend some time with exceptional dogs and cuddly puppies without the responsibility of actually bringing them into your home? Every day (except Sunday & Thursday) Southeastern Guide Dogs invites the general public in from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 am to help socialize the puppies in Puppy Hugging sessions. This playtime for the pups and the public allows the puppies to be exposed to a wide variety of people (an important part of socialization) and the public gets to experience puppy breath – a win-win! The older dogs that have been returned to the campus for formal harness training (Guide Dog U) also get to spend some time with the public during dog walking on campus – great exercise for both the dogs and the volunteers.
As you probably know, Southeastern Guide Dogs operates strictly on donations. They do not charge for their services, nor do they receive any government funding. Do you have a knack for raising funds for a good cause? Then Southeastern can certainly put your skills to work! We are already looking ahead to our Walkathons (yes, there will be more than one in 2013) and starting to organize teams to fundraise and walk for our biggest fundraisers of the year. You can put together a team for the walk and fundraise as a group or challenge a family member to outfundraise you. If you are interested in heading up a team, or you would like to become a member of the committee to help plan the events contact Nina Ionata in Development for more information.
Southeastern Guide Dogs - Sarasota
Live south of campus and still want to volunteer? Well, Southeastern Guide Dogs – Sarasota is located right in downtown Sarasota and provides some great options for those who don’t want to drive to Palmetto. Spend time with the students when they are in Sarasota learning to work in the downtown environment. Lend a hand in crowd control when the little puppies go to Sarasota for Puppy Hugging. Or even help out in the unique pet boutique. A friendly greeter is always a welcoming touch at our Sarasota location.
As you can see there are lots of ways you can help out at Southeastern Guide Dogs. Some other opportunities for lending a hand are helping with special events, hosting a fundraiser or joining the Speaker’s Bureau to help spread the word about Southeastern and the services available. They say it takes a village to raise a child and the same is true of a guide dog, so the next time you are looking for a way to do something meaningful with your spare time, give Southeastern Guide Dogs a call 941-729-5665.