What: Southeastern Guide Dogs
Web site: http://www.guidedogs.org/
What they’re all about: Southeastern Guide Dogs prepares canines for the critical job of partnering with people who have visual impairments. The school has provided guide dogs for people for nearly three decades.
Southeastern Guide Dogs' school is located on a 23-acre campus at 4210 77th St. East, Palmetto. Phone is 941-729-5665. Its Discovery Center in Sarasota is at 1618 Main St. Phone: 941-953-2892. There are training facilities in both Sarasota and Brandenton.
Southeastern Guide Dogs relies on volunteers to fulfill its mission. The organization proudly states that "our volunteers and donors help define us, embracing our culture of service by donating 100% of the funds needed to sustain our vision and mission, at no cost to our students."
The organization taps volunteers to help in all areas of preparing dogs for their roles as guides for the visually impaired. Although the organization has a staff that includes instructors and a veterinarian, its services to the visually impaired are free.
Core volunteers number more than 500, providing more than 15,000 hours per year, which excludes the volunteer puppy raisers, who contribute a whopping 584,000 hours per year.
How to help: So how can one person make a difference?
Southeastern Guide Dogs is described as a joyful place to work. Volunteer opportunities abound, and those involved say the hours spent are rewarding.
Raise a puppy: This job requires a big commitment. In addition, puppy raisers must say goodbye to the babies after 14-20 months, when the young dogs go to school for formal training. Puppy raisers help to socialize dogs. The pups learn about home life, basic commands and the world around them.
Hug a puppy/walk a dog: These fun, scheduled sessions involve holding and cuddling puppies so they become familiar with the love and kindness of humans. The dog walking provides recreation and exercise for the canines.
Other Volunteer Opportunities: The ways to help are numerous. Volunteers can find the job that fits their schedule and interests. The tasks include: dog walker educator, dog walker patrol who monitors the dog walkers, gerdener to help out with landscaping on campus, hugger helper who greets guests, kennel assistant who keeps things clean like washing dog dishes, maintenance and office help, gift shop clerk.
Want to learn more about the fascinating work of Southeastern Guide Dogs? Check out Weekly Tails, a series that has appeared on Patch.