Longboat Key Kiwanis Meeting: Tayna then introduced our guest speaker, Ann Poser, an Ambassador Handler from Southeastern Guide Dogs. She introduced us to her Ambassador dog Holden, who was bred at their facility but didn’t qualify to become a service dog, and became Ann’s workdog instead.
The Southeastern Guide Dogs were founded in 1982, to aid the visually impaired. They have a 32-acre campus, where they breed 250 puppies each year, either Labrador Retrievers, Golden retrievers, or a mix of the two breeds called Gold-a-dors. All the puppies get obedience training in pe-school, then kindergarten, and then boarding school. Then they spend 12 to 14 months with puppy raisers, from where they go to Guide Dogs University. if the dog graduates, it must be in perfect medical condition before being placed with a visually impaired person.
Many small things can affect their careers, and if they are not placed with visually impaired, they are retrained to work with veterans with distress syndrome conditions. Some go to military hospitals, others are trained in bomb sniffing, drug detection, and other security or police work.
The breeding females are only allowed to have three litters and are then retired. The dogs that are placed with a visually impaired person, who must be over 18 years of age, stay with them for 8 years, and are retired at 10 years of age. They then can either be adopted by a member of the visually impaired’s family, or returned to their puppy trainer if they will take them.
Written by Tayna Vy, 941-955-2224