Palmetto, FL – September is National Guide Dog Month and National Service Dog Month. While this month is used to recognize working dogs, Southeastern Guide Dogs celebrates guide dogs and service dogs every day. The nonprofit breeds, raises and trains elite guide dogs for individuals with vision loss, service dogs for veterans with disabilities, and skilled companion dogs for children with significant challenges.
Every day these working dogs transform lives. These are some of the people who have experienced the life-changing services.
At birth, amblyopia or “lazy eye” gave Cheri Sytsma abnormal vision development, leading to double vision, dizziness, headaches, and depth perception problems. She struggled with reading and overcompensated for her poor peripheral vision by favoring her left eye. Over time, the symptoms worsened, and she stopped driving, left her job, and began falling more frequently. It became harder to get out and about and enjoy life. Cheri applied for a guide dog, and in May 2021, she was matched with a lovely yellow Lab named Hero.
U.S. Air Force Veteran Morgan Watt experienced chronic migraines and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He had lost all hope until he was paired with a service dog named Foley. This calm and relaxed goldador provided Morgan with freedom and independence by mitigating the symptoms of PTSD, and within a few months, he was able to sense Morgan’s migraines before they happened.
Lillee is a seven-year-old with snow-white pigtails and a giant, gap-toothed smile. She has Albinism, which carries with it low vision. She also suffered multiple strokes and major brain surgeries, with more medical interventions in her future. But, thanks to a sweet, gentle and intelligent goldador named Sally, Lillee now has her own Kids Companion dog—a best friend who follows her around like a shadow every day and will help her prepare for a future guide dog.
Thousands of graduates from Southeastern Guide Dogs have stories like this–stories that show guide dogs and service dogs provide freedom and confidence to those who need them most.
These extraordinary dogs begin training at just a couple of days old to prepare for their future career about two years later. The dedicated staff at the Puppy Academy stimulate the pups through sensory activities and play. The volunteer puppy raisers teach young dogs basic skills. The devoted instructors help each dog achieve their potential through advanced skills training Canine University.
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About Southeastern Guide Dogs
Southeastern Guide Dogs transforms lives by creating and nurturing extraordinary partnerships between people and dogs. Our organization operates the most advanced training facilities of any service dog organization in the world. Our experts breed, raise, and train elite working dogs—including guide dogs, service dogs, and skilled companion dogs—and provide life-changing services for people with vision loss, veterans with disabilities, and children with significant challenges such as vision loss or the loss of a parent in the military. Pursuing our mission since 1982, Southeastern Guide Dogs now has over 1,200 dogs under our auspices.
All of our services—which include state-of-the-art research on canine health and development; selective breeding; expert dog training; comprehensive on-campus student instruction; and the most robust alumni support program in North America—are provided at no cost to recipients. We rely 100% on private donations. Southeastern Guide Dogs has the distinction of being dually accredited by the two premier, global accreditation bodies: the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International. Learn more at www.GuideDogs.org.