While at Southeastern's main campus in Palmetto, FL, we had an opportunity to take a tour of the 23 acre campus and facilities. We got to meet many of the staff to whom we had been communicating with over Facebook, telephone and email. It's always nice to put a face with a name!
Everything at Southeastern is top notch. The grounds are landscaped and well manicured, with plenty of shade and garden benches. It is immaculate and very serene. The entire operation is run with a priority to service -- and it is 100% funded by private donors.
Countless numbers of volunteers help to power this organization and contribute hours of hard work to make it successful. The day we were there, we saw volunteers running around everywhere! And we couldn't help but notice that they are all happy, friendly, enthusiastic supporters of the program who are enjoying themselves and their work. They are eager to talk about the guide-dog program. They are driven to make this organization successful and are proud to be part of it's mission.
All of this is important because Southeastern provides guide dogs at no cost to their students!
Our tour included the office, the training kennels, the vet clinic, a tour of the grounds, but THE most POPULAR stop on the tour was the puppy kennel! Puppies! Who doesn't love puppies?
The last stop of our tour allowed us plenty of time to tour the puppy kennel and experience what is called "puppy hugging". Southeastern has a wonderful puppy kennel where their new pups are born and housed for the first couple of months of life. The facility is spotless, super bright, and well-ventilated. After a walk through the kennel and peeking in at all the adorable puppies, we were escorted into the colorful and spacious puppy-hugging room, where early socialization helps puppies learn to love humans and feel comfortable with movement and people;
Upon entering the puppy kennel, a requirement is that you thoroughly wash your hands with antibacterial cleaner. But before we entered the puppy-hugging room, we had to clean our hands AGAIN. Everybody sat on the floor in a circle and the volunteers let the pups loose. It was like the running of the bulls in Spain. Puppies scrambled everywhere!
The puppies ruled the roost. They loved being the center of attention and were well aware of all the humans vying for their attention. They teased, they tumbled, and they frolicked.
Toys were laid out everywhere and we became kids again, captivated by the cuteness of these little guys and gals. These little pups knew their audience, and promptly filled our hearts with love.
And guess who we get to finally meet? Our new pup to raise, Stross. She is a beautiful female yellow lab. She is 14 weeks old. The St.Petersberg chapter of the DAR contributed a sponsorship donation to Southeastern for the naming rights of our little pup. Stross is named for John Stross, an entrepreneur and business owner in St.Petersberg, FL.
Stross is precious!
We can tell right off the bat that she is a bit of a DIVA..
..and that she is going to be a blast to raise.
Stross The Boss.
you are full of beans..
and a drama queen!
But you are just what we need to fill the gaping hole in our hearts.
Welcome into our hearts, little girl!
We love you already!