Guide Dogs 4/13/2017

Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club Goes to the Dogs

Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club (LWRWC) held their monthly meeting in April, welcoming the Southeastern Guide Dogs (SEGD).

Trish Newman, program chair introduced the featured presentation and guest speaker, Nancy Cottrell, a tour guide on campus and a puppy educator and socializer. She was joined by her dog Gunner. Ms. Cottrell outlined the mission of SEGD, their training programs, and the career paths for their dogs. Two other ambassador guide dogs were in attendance, a golden lab named Levi and a golden retriever named Ben.

SEGD was founded in 1982 in Palmetto, Florida and is internationally accredited and one of the most respected guide dog schools in the United States. They employ the latest in canine development and behavior research to create and nurture partnerships between visually impaired individuals and extraordinary dogs. Guide dogs also serve as service dogs for our Vets with PTSD and as Facility Therapy Dogs at VA hospitals, Military Facilities, and other hospitals.

Canine Connection Dogs can be placed with special needs children 10-17 years old who are taught to care for the dogs. Ambassador dogs are placed with active volunteers, enabling outreach and education to further the Southeastern Guide Dog mission. Public Service Dogs serve with Law Enforcement, Homeland Security, Sheriff Departments, and school systems.

SEGD is a 501(c)(3) organization that serves more than 450 graduates across the US and continues to place more than 100 dogs each year. These dogs provide confidence, independence, and freedom. SEGD receives no government funding yet provides all their dogs and services, including 21 days of training on how to interact with the guide dogs at no cost to the recipient.”

Karen Conkel, a SEGD volunteer, spoke about her experience as a puppy raiser since 2014. She is mom to Levi, who was sponsored by and named after Vietnam Marine Penrose Levi Keller who passed away just before Levi was born. Levi carries on his legacy.

Ms. Cottrell concluded the program by sharing several volunteer opportunities available with SEGD, including puppy raiser or host breeder. Interested members should visit their website,

Members had an opportunity to interact with the dogs at the end of the presentation.–