Building a Bridge for Visually Impaired Children

Our Canine Connections dogs close the gap between the child of today and the independent guide dog handler of tomorrow.

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The rigors of training with a guide dog challenge our visually impaired students to stretch themselves far outside of their comfort zones. We ask them to live on campus for nearly a month, discard their white canes, and walk with complete trust in a dog. Our students overcome these challenges and more, but because of these rigors, our school only accepts students age 18 and older. But what about visually impaired children?

Our Canine Connections program builds a bridge between the child of today and the independent guide dog handler of tomorrow. Visually impaired children gain confidence as they learn how to care for the dog’s needs: feeding, grooming, walking, and playing. The children gain a faithful companion, as well as a sense of ownership, responsibility and maturity. And when the day comes for them to train with a guide dog, they’ll experience a smooth transition to freedom and independence. If you have a child between the ages of 10 and 17 and are interested in obtaining a Canine Connections dog, email Susan Wilburn or call 941.729.5665 to learn more.

What people are saying…

“Over the past year, it’s been amazing to witness the bond that has developed between the two of them. Clifford is truly a blessing!”

Colleen, mother of Sean who is paired with Canine Connections dog Clifford