Thursday, February 10, 2011

This will warm your heart

Here's a slideshow of one of Southeastern Guide Dog's recent graduated teams - Maureen & Dexter - and their work at hospice.

Maureen Smith and her guide dog Dexter

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How to support the cause

Some people have heard about the guide dog service program, and have asked us how they can help. Here is a way.

The Houston puppy raiser group is raising funds towards Southeastern Guide Dogs' biggest fundraiser of the year: the Walkathon. This year marks the walkathon's 25th anniversary, too, which makes it even more special. The Walk-a-thon is March 5th in Bradenton, FL.

The $3000 goal set by the Houston puppy raisers group is to sponsor a guide dog puppy.  All monies collected go directly to Southeastern Guide Dog organization, who rely 100% on private donations, receives no government funding, and doesn't charge their students a dime for their services.

While puppy raising is a volunteer activity, these funds do not go to the puppy raisers themselves, but are used by the Guide Dog school for breeding, housing, veterinary care, and administration of the Guide Dog school.

If you want to help the Houston Area Puppy Raisers with fundraising for Walk-A-Thon 2011, click on the link below.

Thank you for supporting Southeastern Guide Dogs!

Sit Stay Give - Houston puppy raisers fundraiser

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Feb 2011 Guide Dog Meeting

Our February meeting was on SuperBowl Sunday. 
We had a farewell party for Star and Bruce, who will be returned to Florida for IFT (In for Training).
Left to right: Lauren with Star, Christie with Bruce
These two pups have spent the last 12 months learning the required commands and are now ready to be handed off for final training and pairing with a visually impaired client. We wish them well! 

Here are recent photos of the 3 remaining pups in our group::
Look at how cutie pie Sunshine is growing!
This is Little Star. She is so sweet!
This is Houston. He is a beautiful boy!
And guess what?  We got the news that six new puppies are coming into our group in March.  Our "birth announcments" gave the sex, color, breed and name of the puppy that we will receive.  

In this photo, Eileen and Jenny get the news of their new pup, a black female lab named Lulu.

Last but not least, WE got the news that our puppy will also arrive on March 8th. He is a black male lab named Smoky.
We look forward to reporting his arrival!!

Other January highlites

January was a busy month for us. We had a home inspection on Jan. 15th by our area coordinators, Carol and Bob Rone.  The purpose of the inspection is to ensure that our house is "puppy proof", and, to get recomendations for required tie downs for the puppy. 

They also inspected our motor home because we received permission to travel with the puppy, and tie downs are also required in vehicles along with crating at night.

We are happy to announce that we passed the inspections and signed the consent form to seal the deal. We are officially on the wait list for our first puppy.

A final requirement for being a puppy raiser is to secure a local vet to provide care for the puppy for the 12 months that we will raise it.  We are excited to have selected Dr. Raymond Miller, new owner of the Veterinary Medical Center of the Gulf Coast, 2609 N.Velasco St., in Angleton.  Dr.Miller seems to be very excited to be part of this experience and we look forward to working with him. Here's a link to his website. Thank you Dr. Miller!

Veterinary Medical Center of the Gulf Coast

January 2011 Outing - IMAX theatre

Once a month, the puppies and puppy raisers meet together for an "outing". This is usually in a public place to socialize the dogs and to give them various experiences out in the real world.  These outings can be to a mall, a restaurant, an airport, and even an Imax theatre!
Left to right: Michael and Meredith with Sunshine. Bob and Carol with Houston. Lauren with Big Star. Christie and Sue with Bruce. Cynthia with Little Star.
Having the puppies in public places always generates interest, especially when in our large group. We field alot of questions and get alot of encouragement from the public during these outings.
Puppy raisers usually carry literature about the guide service with them to distribute to interested parties whether it be for potential future puppy raisers or people in need of a guide dog.

Photography was not allowed during the movie, but we captured a photo or two afterwards!  At this IMAX theatre there are many sets of stairs that the puppy has to learn to navigate. Whether it be stairs going up or stairs going down, the puppy has to learn to sit at every landing. Eventually, an older pup will be taught to "Find the stairs" and Sit to alert the visually impaired client of the stairs.
After the movie, the pups are allowed to go "Busy", which means go potty! Pups are trained to "Busy" on command. Isn't that great? They must be taught to relieve themselves on different surfaces and in different locations, all on command.  Also notice that the blue jacket has been taken off. The rules are that jackets must come off before the pup can go "busy".

This is Christie with Bruce. Bruce was a GOOD boy!

Of course, all puppy raisers must pick up after our little ones. Notice Bob has the big ole poopy bag - yeah - somebody has to do it!  By the way, Bob can recommend quality dog food that results in minimal cleanup. LOL!

January 2011 meeting

Once a month, the puppies and puppy raisers all meet together for information sharing and obedience practice sessions.  
Here we are doing our obedience session with the new pups.
In a Down Stay, the pups are expected to stay in this position for several minutes, depending on their age. Younger pups do well to stay for 2-3 minutes. Older pups require longer durations.
This is Sunshine doing a Down Stay.  She is doing very well!  Most of these training sessions proove to be distracting for the pups because they are excited to be reunited with their brothers and sisters again.  Also, the pups are tested for distractions such as food. During these practice sesssions the puppy raiser stands back to allow other raisers to work the pup using the same commands. This allows the puppy to learn to respond to multiple trainers. A trained guide dog has to successfully perform these commands under distractions as part of their service to the visually impaired.
This is Cindy with puppy Houston. Here she is teaching Houston to sit when coming to a door. Older pups are expected to sit at every door without being told. The command for older pups is "find the door", which is to find the door without assistance and sit at the door. Eventually, the pups are taught to "switch" which is an indicator to the visually impaired of the way the door swings open or closed.
This is Christie putting a harness on Bruce. Bruce is an older puppy, almost ready to transition back to Florida for final service training. Notice the blue coat has been taken off of Bruce before the harness is put on.
The pups wear the blue coat while in training, until such time that they are old enough to tolerate a harness like the one shown. The purpose of wearing the blue coat is to prepare the puppy-in-training to eventually wear a harness - and - to associate it with work time. 
This is Lauren with Star, an older pup, who is also being introduced to the harness and showing her skills with an extended Down Stay.
After 2 hours of this stuff, even the most patient of all, little Sunshine, is ready to hear the command "Take a Break", which means PLAY TIME! 


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