Why Do We Walk?
We walk because our extraordinary guide dogs change lives. Our dogs make a difference, and our Walkathons raise the funds that help us achieve our mission:
To create and nurture a partnership between a visually impaired individual and a guide dog, facilitating life’s journey with mobility, independence and dignity.
The cost to raise and train one guide dog from conception through retirement (usually at age 10) is tens of thousands of dollars. All of our services – which include selective breeding and training for our dogs; on-campus instruction for our students; and lifetime follow-up for our graduates – are provided at no cost to our students. We receive no government funding and rely 100% on donations from our community of supporters.
Creating lasting partnerships is our highest priority
As our dogs progress in their education, each one’s unique aptitude and abilities become clear. Dogs pursue a major based on their personality, health, temperament, trainability, and suitability for specific careers. At Southeastern Guide Dogs, the majority of our dogs pursue one of the following career paths:
+ Guide Dog Major: After about six months of formal harness training plus 26 days of student-handler training, dogs that graduate as guide dogs provide independence and confidence to those with visual impairments. This major requires exceptional intelligence, confidence, resilience to new challenges, willingness to please, and enough initiative to disobey commands for the safety of handlers.
+ Service Dog Major: After about six months of formal training plus 12 days of student-handler training, dogs that graduate as service dogs provide independence and confidence to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. This major requires intelligence, confidence, sensitivity, willingness to please, and a prominent level of calmness.
+ Facility Therapy Dog Major: Dogs that are hand-selected for this career provide therapeutic services to veterans and families being treated in military medical facilities across the nation. This major requires a peaceful demeanor, very affectionate mannerisms, and welcome interaction from strangers.
+ Genetics and Reproduction Major: Dogs that are hand-selected as breeders preserve the quality and diversity of the lines through selective breeding. This major requires exceptional health plus all of the best traits of guide dogs and service dogs.
+ Gifted Canines Major, with Minor Emphases:
Public Service Dog Minor: Dogs that are hand-selected for public service serve in law enforcement careers such as arson, firearms, and drug detection, and for the Fish & Wildlife Commission. This minor requires strong intelligence, poise, and extraordinary sniffing drives.
Canine Connection Dog Minor: Dogs that are hand-selected for this career become companions for youth with visual impairments, building a bridge to a future guide dog. This minor requires exceptional affection for children and extremely peaceful demeanors.
Emotional Support Dog Minor: Dogs that are hand-selected as emotional support dogs provide therapeutic comfort to veterans with disabilities. This minor requires affection, sensitivity, and a peaceful and calm demeanor.
Ambassador Dog Minor: Dogs that are hand-selected as ambassadors are adopted by active volunteers, enabling outreach and education to further the Southeastern Guide Dogs mission. This minor requires high levels of composure, affection, and enjoyment while interacting with strangers.
Giving with confidence
Our friends and supporters have learned to trust Southeastern Guide Dogs as a responsible steward of gifts and donations with a reputation of integrity and transparency.