My husband and I raised Shadow from about 10 weeks old. (We took him back for college in October - yes you can do that! It's hard, but SEGD does a magnificent job with the ceremony!) It's hard to find words to describe how gratifying it is to know that you are raising a beautiful superhero to be. And, at the same time, get constant puppy love. Your puppy will come with a manual - with plenty of detail. And you will have support of SEGD and your area "family" of puppy raisers.
I recently returned home with my first guide dog Beecher. My time at Southeastern was wonderful! The trainers and staff were fantastic. I would recommend this school to anyone considering getting a guide dog!
My wife and I recently had the great pleasure of visiting the Southeastern Guide Dogs facility in Palmetto Fla. To say that we were impressed is an understatement. The facility is really a university for the " Superheroes" ( as these wonderful dogs are affectionately called). Along with 5 other visitors,we enjoyed a wonderful hour with a group of 8 week old puppies in "The Puppy Kindergaten Adventure"- my wife was in heaven. At about 10 weeks these puppies will go to puppy raiser families, where they will spend the next 15 months or so, before returning to university. It is here where they will go through the intensive training of becoming a guide dog for the blind, companion for a vet with PTSD or many other valuable services. Some, who do not "graduate" go on to be breeders. Another impressive service is that the new "patients" are house at the center while training with their new BFF. There is currently construction underway, which when complete, will house new traing and veterinary facilities. Non of this receives any government funding. All funding comes from private or corporate donations, in addition to about 135 on "staff" there are about 500 volunteers, making it all the more impressive. The Southeastern Guide Dogs facility is a "must see" for anyone living in or visiting the Bradenton/Sarasota area.
My daughter and I are about to turn in our second puppy to Southeastern Guide Dogs. We are puppy raisers and just want to encourage others to help out this amazing organization. We initially were drawn to Southeastern for puppy hugging. Imagine sitting on the floor of a room and somebody releasing a litter of eight-week-old puppies! Oh my goodness, we were smitten! After a session of plentiful puppy kisses, we knew we wanted to be a part of this. Yes, initially we were drawn in for the puppies but after learning about what Southeastern does to help veterans, my husband and I being veterans as well, we knew we wanted to help in any way we could. Over the last two years, we have seen the difference these dogs make in the lives of other military families. Southeastern does all of this at no cost to the families matched with these amazing dogs. When we take our pups out, the most frequent question is how can you give them up and that that person could never do it. If you choose to do so, you can fill out the paperwork ahead of time and the day your pup goes in for training, you can go home with another pup...that day! The pup you turned it will always be in your heart but puppy kisses help heal a sad heart! You'll receive updates on the pup and will be so excited to hear all that these pups accomplish. Then, when you finally hear how the pup is changing lives, you will be so proud. Thank you Southeastern for letting us be a part of this amazing process.
Southeastern Guide Dogs is an excellent non profit that gets no government funding, raises money through fundraising and provides the blind with dogs to guide them through the world and comforting, service dogs to guard and protect veterans from a world that they are afraid of. The facilities are excellent and provide a comfortable place for students to live and learn how to use their dogs. Raising puppies for them has been one of the most rewarding experiences ever. I've raised 5 dogs for them. They provide support for raisers and make the turning in process a little less painful through puppy hugging, a training simulation, and listening to a graduate that's life changed after getting a dog. I highly recommend them if you need a dog or want to raise one.
My name is Cathy. I recently “graduated” as a student being the handelar. I am Blind and have recently had an eye removed. I had lost my confidence for walking alone and had to have someone go with me. I love being outdoors and having to stay indoors more was really getting me down. Southeastern guide dogs trained me to be with my new dog companion. Their facility is beautiful and the food was awesome. The school provided and tended to all of my needs while the dog trainers trained me. That my friends was no easy task. The trainers were patient, knowledgeable, and tough on me at the same time. They brought the real world come alive when we went to the various cities for using and implementing what we practiced as far as crossing the street safely. The trainers taught and made us experience every facet of walking that they knew and to be confident and successful again in the real world setting. Their support services are awesome as well.
I encourage anyone whom is visually impaired to learn to be free again to visit the school. The are non profit and funds come by way of donations, fundraisers, and endowments.
I have had an opportunity to meet and work with some fantastic people and pups at SEGD! This organization takes their volunteers seriously, providing education and scheduled time to learn and serve in many capacities. I have volunteered for the Canine Assessment Ctr, Weekend Getaway Program, the Puppy Academy, and now as a breeder host. I love the organization’s mission and how they honor and and help their students as well as volunteers. Great organization made by great people!
My husband said "ok, we can get a dog." We are retired and love to travel internationally. That made having a dog difficult and seemed unfair to the dog. Then one day we were working the 2012 Presidential election. In walked a couple with an adorable puppy wearing a blue coat. They were volunteer puppy raisers, and the pup was from Southeastern Guide Dogs. They allowed us to pet the puppy and told us all about the program - including the fact that you keep a puppy for about a year. That was all it took.
We checked them out on Charity Navigator and visited the campus for a tour. After seeing the campus and hearing about the mission, plus petting puppies, we were hooked. We began attending meetings in our local community and, after reading the manual, handling puppies at meetings, and passing background checks and a home visit, we were allowed to begin sitting for puppies. We had them for a few hours, then overnight, a weekend, a week, and finally a month. They were black, brown, and yellow Labs, every one with a different personality. We felt ready, so we applied for our first guide dog. What a joy it is to raise a puppy for this organization. The level of support we receive is impressive - a manual, meetings, videos, plus a wealth of knowledge from other raisers - all from people dedicated to puppies with one goal of delivering well socialized dogs ready to learn how to become a guide dog or service dog.
Yes, you fall in love with them. Yes, it's hard to give them up. For us, seeing our first pup as a guide dog with his handler was so gratifying. Of course, we did it again - after a trip abroad. And now again for a third time - after another trip abroad. We've had a yellow, a black, and now another yellow Lab. They've all been different. They've all been fun. They've all been challenging and rewarding at the same time. Watching these pups grow into confident dogs ready for their next challenge is the reward for volunteers like us.
Amazing non-profit! I've been a volunteer for over eleven years for this wonderful place. All volunteers are treated as respected colleagues and given lots of in-service training. Besides, who doesn't want to volunteer to work with adorable puppies! They are destined to become Superheros to someone who cannot see (our sight-impaired clients) or someone who has seen too much (our wonderful veterans.)
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!
I am a first time ‘Puppy Raiser’ for Southeastern Guide Dogs, raising the most intelligent and overall wonderful puppy, Papa Bear. From the first meeting attended before receiving and being matched with Papa Bear, the many one on one sessions with my Area Coordinator, and the frequent semi-monthly meetings where all puppy raisers learn and practice new behaviors, acclimate the pups to exposures, environments, and experiences that are a learning experience for both raisers and the pups, it has been an overwhelmingly positive and family like experience. As raisers we’re guided and shown that our job raising a future guide dog is of utmost importance. The support and coaching we receive from every volunteer and staff member along the way has been an inspiration and motivation to continue this role for this wonderful organization and all their special ‘super heroes’ in fur coats.
The Most Extraordinary Non Profit Experience Ever!
I retired after a 20 year career in fundraising leadership at the Ohio State University, I can honestly say Southeastern Guide Dogs is a “Top Tier” non profit organization. When I moved to Fort Myers I was looking for the opportunity to become involved with a non profit in the Fort Myers community. I researched charities and reviewed information on various charity websites. Southeastern Guide Dogs (SEGD) is financially responsible with donors funds and they do an amazing job thanking their volunteers and donors. Providing guide dogs to the visually impaired and service dogs to veterans free of charge with no government funding is truly remarkable. From a donor perspective SEGD does a great job of showing their appreciation and conveying their thanks. The leadership at SEGD understands the importance of giving back. Volunteers and donors give of their time and financial resources while the people at SEGD give independence and freedom to so many by training these amazing dogs.
Becoming a volunteer puppy raiser has been without a doubt the most rewarding experience of my life. Becoming a donor has been equally rewarding because I know my investment in SEGD is truly making a difference not only in Florida but across the United States. I plan to continue my involvement with SEGD for years to come.
We have been volunteer puppy raisers with SEGDI since 1999. We are currently raising our 12th puppy(Bravo-2A17). We have worked with and met thousands of fellow volunteers, staff members, and recipients of our "Miracles with tails", been part of and attended many activities on and off campus and are proud, honored and blessed to be part of the SEGDI family. Being part of the SEGDI family is a "Life Changing " experience.
Dave & Maggie Thompson
S.W. Florida Puppy Raisers
Southeastern Guide Dogs changes lives, especially for our veterans. As parents of an Iraqi Veteran and also an active FL National Guardsman, we have seen the transformation made with our veterans when they are matched to one of our Southeastern Guide Dogs. As puppy raisers, our first puppy, Ranger, has been matched to an Iraqi Army veteran. They have fallen in love and Ranger will provide a great service to him. We know both of them will take good care of each other. Yes, its hard to give the puppy up at 13 or 14 months old, but the results are well worth it.
We raised a puppy for this fantastic organization. They were helpful, organized and supported us every step of the way from overjoyed puppy meeting to puppy training to tearful but grateful farewell. Our dog has gone on to support a veteran and we couldn’t be more thrilled with his career and the opportunity we had to make a difference. Oh, and the daily puppy kisses didn’t hurt either.
My husband and I moved to Florida eight years ago. We were involved in some organizations in Connecticut for many years. Coming here in Florida was a big move for us but we wanted to become part of the community as well as doing good works. Southeastern Guide Dog has been an adventure! We are now on our sixth puppy, made lots of friends, visit nursing facilities, elementary schools, veteran groups and chair our local Walkathon. This organization has it all, a great staff, accountability for it's spending, a very worthy cause helping the visually impaired , veterans and their families, Veteran Hospitals, Florida Fish and Wildlife and Florida Rescue and so much more. I've attached a photo of our current puppy Wyatt. As a Puppy Raiser we keep our puppy for a year, teaching him house manners and about 30 commands before returning him back to the schools to the professional trainers. When the sight impaired person comes to the school for three weeks of training they are treated with the utmost respect and dignity. The dogs and the training are at no cost to them. Thank you Southeastern Guide Dog for letting us be part of your great organization.
In twelve years of volunteering as a puppy raiser for Southeastern Guide Dogs, I have been privileged to see the caring attitude of everyone involved, whether they are employees or volunteers. When dogs are evaluated, it is always the same question...what is best for the dog? Our dogs love the work they are chosen for or they would not be selected for the particular job. These dogs who are bred on campus perform miracles everyday. Everyone who visits the campus comes away with a smile. I can not believe how many lives are changed every year by our dogs.
I have been a puppy raiser for Southeastern guide dogs for about 8+ years. I have raised 6 dogs for the school and hosted countless others. The people I have met over the years who have been touched in some way by SEGD have been many. I have heard countless stories of how these dogs have changed their lives for the better. Freedom dignity and confidence has been regained thanks to all the amazing volunteers and staff at SEGD. It has also been an amazing journey for my family. My 3 children have watched pups come and go. They have seen the amount of training, time and love that is necessary to create these superhero dogs. They have also had the honor of meeting the people that the dogs we raised are helping. They get to see that our hard work with these dogs has contributed to something so important. A gift that will change a strangers life forever. The sadness at sending our dog back for training quickly fades when they get to see the good this dog goes on to do. (And the arrival of a sweet new puppy each year doesn’t hurt either) We are very proud to be a part of this organization.
My husband and I have been raising guide dog puppies for over 22 years. We started with SEGD in August 1995. We were later with 2 other guide dogs schools, and a Diabetic Alert Dog group and now are so delighted to be back with SEGD. With Titus Herman as CEO the school is, in our opinion, the BEST Guide Dog School ever. They care deeply about every facet of the school: staff, puppies, volunteers, guide dog users. career changed and retired dogs. The only negative is that we live in Dallas and cannot volunteer weekly on campus! That has always been a desire of my heart. WE LOVE SEGD!!! Donna Wright
True story - I work at Southeastern Guide Dogs and one of my roles is to interview each person with their new dog and then write a short bio about each one. These bios are provided to the puppy raiser and the sponsor of the dog, to let them know of the difference their dog makes.
I've heard so many heart-wrenching stories of vision loss and the accompanying loss of freedom--no more drivers license; no more ability to look into a child or grandchild's eyes; and a loss of hope and confidence. I've spoken to veterans with PTSD who can't seem to forget the memories of Afghanistan, Iraq, and even Vietnam.
And then they get their dogs--their guide dogs and service dogs--and everything changes. Their shoulders lift; they sleep through the night; and they travel and go and do and be and LIVE.
As a female, I make sure to wear waterproof mascara before interviewing them, because often when they begin to get teary and misty, I can't help but cry myself. Good tears. Tears of amazement and hope and renewed expectancy and confidence.
It is an absolute privilege to see the incredible transformations and the difference a dog makes. Here at Southeastern Guide Dogs, it's often said that we transform lives, one dog at a time.