LWRWC Goes to the Dogs
On Thursday, May 17, 2018, a group of ladies from Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club (LWRWC) visited the beautiful Southeastern Guide Dogs (SEGD) Campus located at 4210 77th Street East, Palmetto, FL 34221, where amazing dogs go from birth through canine college to prepare for a heroic life of service. The outing was planned by LWRWC Program Chairs, Cathy Reinitz and Claudia Dombrow as an event in the club’s “off the ranch” program series.
The tour was conducted by Andy Kramer, SEGD Vice President of Philanthropy. Andy outlined the mission of SEGD, their training programs, and the career paths for their dogs and the ongoing renovation of their campus to transform it into a state-of the-art facility.
SE Guide Dogs starts evaluating the puppies shortly after birth and puts them through graded assessment tests when they are just six weeks old. Since both nature and nurture are the keys to producing amazing service dogs, these extraordinary canines will complete many levels of training, including preschool, kindergarten, primary and canine college before embarking on their service careers.
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. Their amazing dogs are smart, fit, and highly trained, like top athletes prepared for the challenge.
Through cutting-edge genetics and breeding, innovative puppy education, positive home experiences, and expert training, they produce healthier, stronger, more intelligent dogs that love people, love to learn, and live to please.
Through their advanced pedigrees of Labradors, golden retrievers, and goldadors and the latest in canine development and behavior research, they create and nurture partnerships between visually impaired individuals and extraordinary guide dogs and service dogs who give people the independence they need to live life to its fullest.
These dogs learn 40 commands and, even more impressive, use intelligent disobedience to protect the person they serve. For example, a guide dog will refuse to listen to a command to go forward into oncoming traffic.
Much like human college students, when they begin their higher education their ultimate career path is not guaranteed. Only 40% of the dogs are destined to be guide dogs for the blind, but all the dogs born at SE Guide dog campus will make a huge difference in the lives of those in need because these are no ordinary dogs.
Some of the dogs are best suited as service dogs for Veterans with balance issues, seizures, and hearing loss and/or challenges such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and are far more effective than drugs in giving our Vets a new lease on life! Some will work as Facility Therapy Dogs at VA hospitals, Military Facilities, and other hospitals. Some will serve veterans as emotional support dogs.
Others will serve as Canine Connection Dogs for children with special needs, ages 10-17 years old who are taught to care for the dogs. Some will be Public Service Dogs who will serve with Law Enforcement, Homeland Security, Sheriff Departments, and school systems. Some will become Ambassador dogs and will be placed with active volunteers, enabling outreach and education to further the Southeastern Guide Dog mission.