Why choose Southeastern Guide Dogs?
We’ve summed it up in our four important areas:
- Level of expertise
- Level of preparation
- Level of care and comfort
- Level of follow-up
Level of Expertise: Top Notch
Southeastern Guide Dogs has provided expertly trained guide dogs since 1982, with more than 2,500 guide dog teams paired and over 600 active partnerships still supported through care and follow up. Our school is accredited by the International Guide Dog Federation in Reading, England and is a member of the U.S. Council of Dog Guide Schools, which means our practices and programs are carefully scrutinized, reviewed, and held to the highest standards.
Our certified trainers teach our dogs over 40 commands, including intelligent disobedience, or when to disobey their handler for safety and obstacle avoidance. Our trainers spend many careful hours individually matching specific dogs to specific people, considering pace, personality, pull, living arrangements, and many more characteristics to ensure successful matches.
For seasoned graduates who have experienced multiple guide dogs both from our school and elsewhere, they share over and over again that we’ve far exceeded their expectations and experiences.
Level of Preparation: Nothing Left to Chance
Before a student receives their new guide dog, we’ve expended about $60,000 to breed, raise, and train the dog. (And we provide our dogs and services at no cost to our students, thanks to our generous supporters.) We use selective breeding to produce dogs of amazing intelligence and friendliness. Our onsite veterinary facilities ensure our dogs are healthy. Our dog-loving staff makes sure our dogs are happy and fit. We intentionally socialize our dogs from birth, exposing them to voices, sights, textures, sounds, and people to improve their adaptability and friendliness. As mentioned, our expert trainers spend months getting a dog ready for service, teaching them over 40 voice commands and home-friendly behaviors.
With nearly 30 years of experience, we’ve learned what makes an exceptional guide dog, and our programs and practices focus intently on making successful matches.
Level of Care and Comfort: The Best
We enjoy hearing back from graduates, and one recurring comment we often hear is that their stay at our school was beyond their expectations. They arrive wondering what it will be like to be away from home for 26 days, and are usually pleasantly surprised. They enjoy their private, well-equipped room and private bath. They rave about our food, prepared by our in-house professional chef. They comment about how friendly everyone is, and how they feel welcomed and cared for. Our staff members and volunteers are passionate about what we do and the people we serve — and it shows.
Level of Follow-up: Lifetime
Once we send our guide dogs home with their new handlers, the care continues. We’ve committed lifetime support to our guide dog pairs, and have a well-thought-out program of follow-up and communication. Our trainers are available for questions, and we make home visits after graduation. Our graduates can feel confident that we’re with them every step of the way.