I've been visually impaired or legally blind since birth. But with age comes lower vision and I was missing curbs which was causing me to take some nasty tumbles. II had also gotten quite depressed because I was unable to find a job due to my limited mobility. My wife was concerned and suggested that I might want to look into getting a guide dog. After much research, we decided that Southeaster Guide Dogs would be the best school for me to attend.
Going to Southeastern and getting my first guide dog, Keni was the second best decision I have ever made (the first was marrying my wife). Since graduation two years ago I have improved mobility, been able to find a job that I could not have previously done without Keni's help and I have a lot more self confidence. I am beyond thankful that a place as wonderful as Southeastern Guide Dogs exists and I'm so thankful that they gave me a sweet, furry friend who helps me so much and brings so many smiles every day.
It all started when I attended a Southeastern Guide Dogs presentation the Creation of a Superheroes in 2016, this organization stole my heart. The positive energy that flows in and around this organization pulls you in to be involved in making a difference in the lives of those individuals in need of a guide dogs or service dogs. The mission statement guides the organization which is evident with each staff member you meet and work with on campus. The staff goes above and beyond to help and educate volunteers in every area of the campus, working with loving dogs is the best of the best. When you are invited to attend a graduation ceremony this is a volunteers dream comed true, as the journey ends at the campus it really is the new beginning for graduate and guide dog. We are a non-profit, funded by private donations so that those in need receive the best guide and service dogs. So Southeastern Guide Dogs is a place in Palmetto, Florida to request a visit and your heart will be stolen too.
I work with puppies at Southeastern Guide Dogs. The love and attention I give to them is returned to me tenfold. Knowing these precious pups will go on to enhance the lives of those in need is so heartwarming. It is truly a labor of love.The staff at SEGD are so kind and appreciative. I feel blessed to be a part of this organization.
I have been a volunteer for Southeastern Guide Dogs for three years. From picking up "poo" to manning the front desk I've had nothing but warm feelings for this organization. I have learned about most aspects of the work done with the dogs to train them to the point of knowing 40 commands to help legally blind human being. I have seen the results, listened to the deeply felt experiences of those who are and have been helped including returning military personnel. It is amazing what this organization accomplishes and all provided gratis without any government contributions. I am so proud that I have been given the opportunity to do what I can to help Southeastern Guide Dogs.
I’d like to take the time to tell my story of how
Southeastern Guide Dogs saved my life by giving me my
best friend, Hooch. Unlike most best friends, mine
is covered in fur, has a tail that wags like a top notch
propeller, and instead of a handshake he prefers licking
my face until it appears as if I just came out of the shower.
I know that description doesn’t sound appealing to most,
but in my opinion it’s perfect and I wouldn’t have it any
When I was 17 I joined the U.S. Marines and
deployed to the Sangin district of Afghanistan for 10
months. As a 20/21 year old in combat, the experiences
and actions that were made, had to be done to ensure the
safety and survival of myself, and my brothers that were
with me during it all. I saw and did things that I’d never
imagine, that I never knew existed, and that I’d never be
able to forget. But this isn’t about those experiences and is
not a therapy session. This is about my recovery and the
goldador who made such a thing possible for me.
Following deployment I began to realize that I wasn’t
right. Nothing was right, but I tried to force myself to act
like it was. My life has never plummeted like it did after
Afghanistan. I walked around with a fake smile and a
source of alcohol and drugs at all times thinking that was
normal. I called it a “coping mechanism”. For the record, if
you’re a 21 year old using drugs and alcohol to make you
seem normal like all of your chipper friends and then pre
meditating the end of your life with an optimistic feeling
towards the thought, then that is not a successful “coping
mechanism”. In denial of being clinically insane, and
wanting to avoid ridicule from the majority of the big bad
Marine Corps who say that mental illness after war is for
the weak, I sought treatment. Immediately, I was
diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury, and PTSD.
Before treatment began, I was transferred to Wounded
Warriors Battalion on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. First
step: Medication. Long story short, I am now 26 years old
and over the course of treatment I have been prescribed
to 46 different medications and a max of 15 a day. This
may remind you of a lab rat, or a guinea pig if you will.
With all of these medications, I still could not escape the
pain, guilt, regret, and hatred towards myself that I was
constantly feeling. So I took my self medicating to a new,
and more dangerous level. Drugs and alcohol became a
necessity for me to function in everyday life. I was an
empty vessel walking amongst people who I considered
an enemy, and a threat towards my life. By people, I mean
everyone; including my best friends, my mother who has
loved me unconditionally since the day she gave birth to
me, and my entire family. My brother John who is my idle
and inspiration for many things, wasn’t my brother in my
mind. He was another living life form, and possible target if
he were to approach me in any way I found aggressive.
As you can see, I was lost, sick, and absolutely out of my mind.
One day my physiologist suggested a service dog for
TBI, and PTSD. Something I have never heard of, nor did I
care or think it would help. Thankfully, it wasn’t up to me; it
was in the hands of the licensed physician who provided
me with the answer to my prayers, and the start to getting
my life back. After months of paperwork and going through
the eligibility process, I was approved for a Veteran
service dog provided by Southeastern Guide Dogs of
Palmetto, FL. March 15th was the day I traveled to the
guide dog organization to begin the two week class,
educating me about service dogs and how to command
and co exist with one for mutual benefits. The first day
upon arrival is when you meet the rest of your six student
class, and let the trainers get to know everything about
you. The good and the bad, but no dogs were provided
yet. Little did I know, March 16th would be the day that my
life would change forever. We were told to wait in our
rooms, which were provided on the campus of SEGD. I
hear the commotion in the hallways consisting of multiple
footsteps, and whatever was moving was moving with a
purpose. I now feel threatened and defense/survival
instincts snap into action. But when my door opened I
unexpectedly had to look down to see what this target/
threat was. I then looked into the eyes of a black Lab/
Retriever and suddenly felt absolutely no feeling of threat
or fear. I sat on the floor because I had to get closer to this
dog who was able to make me feel like I did before
Afghanistan, before the drugs and alcohol, when I was
simply just happy. My new best friend’s name was
“Hooch”. Perfect. Everything about him was, and still is,
It’s been about 2 1/2 years now since Hooch and I
were paired but within days he started to change my life. I
began feeling happiness again, when I thought there was
no such thing. I reconnected with people, who I
considered a threat to me, only to know that they’ve cared
for me the entire time. I know Hooch won’t be alive forever
but, with tears in my eyes, what I can honestly say is that
he will always be with me, and I with him. I love him with
all my heart, and I owe him my life. A special thanks to
Southeastern Guide Dogs for saving my life by bringing
me together with, my best friend, Hooch.
I'm a volunteer and donor to this exceptional organization. The care they show to their dogs, students, volunteer and employees is unlike anything I have experienced in many years of volunteering. No government funds are used and ALL dogs are provided free of charge - including continued follow up visits. It does not matter where in the US the student lives, SEGD will support them throughout their working relationship with their dog.
When my husband and I retired to Sarasota, Florida, I was thrilled to see a highway billboard announcing that Southeastern Guide Dogs was close by. We had raised three puppies for Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Syracuse and then Albany, New York, and I was excited to think about being a part of another organization that offered these magnificent dogs to visually impaired folks. It didn't take me long to visit Southeastern (had the puppy hugging experience) and signed up to volunteer. I soon learned that they also provided specially trained dogs for veterans dealing with PTSD in the Paws for Patriots program. That was 2010/2011. I've never experienced a more dedicated and enthusiastic staff and that transfers easily to their volunteers. Their mission, their professional approach to running Southeastern, their true appreciation of and for their many volunteers, are a few of the reasons why Southeastern is an outstanding nonprofit organization. The impact they have on so many individual lives, whether visually impaired or a Veteran in need of a service dog, is best seen and heard on their website. To say these testimonies are a moving tribute to the value of Southeastern's mission and impact, is an understatement. I am a personal friend of two people who are each a recipient of a Southeastern dog, one legally blind and the other a Veteran and I've had the up close privilege of seeing what these dogs mean to them. The emotional bond and the working partnership are amazing to see. I truly believe that the GreatNonProfits Top-Rated Award couldn't go to a more deserving service organization.
I have been a volunteer puppy raiser for Southeastern Guide Dogs for almost 2 years now. The main reason that I selected this nonprofit organization was because of all of the positive reviews they have received online. After I joined this group. I quickly saw first hand why they received all of these reviews and most importantly that all of them were true and not made up by people paid to post positive reviews. Every single staff member, and volunteer that I have had the pleasure to meet are truly friendly, but most importantly they are professional. All of these wonderful qualities displayed by them are all because every single one of them absolutely love their jobs, and know what a life changing experience all of the people who in the end receives one of our guide dogs will encounter.
Southeastern guide dogs has been part of my life since 2002 when I got my first guide dog. Since then the school has significantly upgraded its infrastructure and added a service animal program for veterans with PTSD. During this time they have retained their core mission of graduating competent and independent guide dog teams
We are proud to be apart of this organization as volunteers. Donors, and a guide dog user. Visit their website for some inspiring stories and live web cams of the puppy kennels
Attached is a photo of “nick” , Larry and Nick’s puppy raiser Carey
I am grateful everyday that I have had the opportunity to volunteer for SEGD for the last 4 years. The staff is very committed and passionate about what they do and they do an excellent job and just keep getting better. The guide and service dogs that they train change people's lives everyday. The dogs are amazing, smart, loving and dedicated to their "forever" person. There is not charge to an individual for a dog. As a volunteer I have received so much more than I have given. Working for a charity that is committed to excellence is wonderful experience. All you have to do is be around the dogs and the staff for a few minutes to understand why this is a charity of the highest excellence.
My life has opened up since I received Atlas, my amazing guide dog. Prior to Atlas I would take a daily walk in my community the walk was slow are careful; not a lot of cardio exercise. Now, we both go at a fast clip just like the sighted walkers. Atlas is there with me at all times and loved by all. I volunteer as a drug rehab counselor and with a bereavement group for Hospice. I'm not sure who makes the greatest impact with the participants, it might be Atlas. He is remarkable in what he has learned since Guide dog school: He can find a public trash can, restroom, stairs, he will locate the car he arrived in faster than the driver, he attends church and listens when the finial Amen is spoken Atlas stretches get up without command and on and on. He is my best friend and faithful companion, thanks Southeastern what a perfect team we have become.
Hi my name is Pedro camarena and my guide dog is Freddy Gilman I am 31 years old and I have had 17 surgeries and I lost my right eye when I got my guide dog he opened up a whole new world for me he has given me independence I am doing things that I never thought I would be doing like flying a plane by myself doing walkathons now with him by my side anything is possible The limits are end lass I am going out more now than when I was just using my cane And people actually talk to you when you have a guide dog as opposed to when you have a cane people see the change in me many have told me that I am more confident In myself now and it’s all thanks to Southeastern guide dogs To those who are thinking of getting a guided dog I would just like to say go for it he will change your life for the better you will have the conference that you used to have yourself And he will make you think if I can do this what else can I accomplish
Southeastern Guide Dogs, Inc. truly changes people's lives! I have been volunteering there for over 3 years and witness the gift we give to the blind and PTSD sufferers on a weekly basis! It makes my heart sing to be a part of such a wonderful organization!
I am a puppy raiser with SEGD. Over the past few years they have made a lot of small changes which have had a huge impact for us as puppy raisers, making our volunteer job so much easier. The lines of communication are always open, and the support we receive from puppy raising services and our regional manager is amazing.
I have been a puppy raiser with Southeastern for nearly eight years. Oftentimes, once you become part of an organization, you begin to learn what it's "really" like, warts and all. Southeastern is an amazing organization in that everyone -- everyone! -- is laser-focused on what they do: provide guide dogs to the sight-impaired. I have had only positive experiences in dealing with anyone from Southeastern, from the CEO to the people who clean the floors in the puppy kennel. Their entire mission is underwritten by private donations, and they are an exceedingly responsible steward of the donations they receive. Southeastern is No. 1 in my book.
I became a volunteer Puppy Raiser in 2016. It changed my life. I am now raising my second puppy for SEGD. The experience is extremely rewarding and life-changing, both for the raisers and for the recipient of these remarkable dogs.
Raising a puppy for Southeastern Guide Dogs is an exciting, life-changing opportunity. The puppies are well bred and eager to learn. They give us far more than we give them in the time we are with them. They have to leave us in order to fulfill their real role in life, that of a superhero, but the paw prints they leave on our hearts last a lifetime. Southeastern Guide Dogs cares about the dogs, the puppy raisers and everyone else involved in the dog's life. Every step along the way is rewarding. Puppy Raisers grow right along side the dog. Thank you SEGD!
My neighbors have always been involved in Southeastern by either being puppy raisers or breeder hosts. They have always involved our community in Walkathons and raised awareness. So when my husband passed away 5 years ago, something clicked inside me that said "hey! I should raise a puppy"! The experience has changed my life....even though the goal of raising a puppy is to change someone else's life! I will be raising my 5th dog soon. This organization touches so many lives on all sides. It is an amazing place with amazing people that run a first class non profit organization. I am proud to be a part
My husband and I have been involved with Southeastern guide dogs since 1990. it is a five star nonprofit !!!
Recipe for Friendship
Southeastern Guides is the perfect gift for volunteers. Southeastern provides a sound and firm belief that we are valued... Together staff and volunteers generously change lives for our visually impaired and veterans...
What a rare opportunity to sweeten my life! "Thank you for sweetening my life. When I was 16 my mother wanted me to volunteer at a local hospital after school... I told her that I didn't want volunteer... Her reply " Anne, you will and do you will feel it in your heart!'
I did feel the difference! Each day at Southeastern Guide Dogs were surround with lots of caring hearts.