The Southeastern Guide Dogs Student Training Program and Veterans Program provide guide dogs for visually impaired individuals and veterans, as well as service dogs, therapy dogs, and emotional support dogs for veterans with PTSD and other disabilities.
As the blind men and women arrive to start their training with a guide dog, I always notice how they come in. Many walk in with a red tipped cane - some hold onto the arm of a friend or relative. Their arrival is without independence, but I smile because I know how they will be leaving, with independence; the gift of freedom & independence at absolutely no cost.
Each person brings a story to Southeastern. I have seen people come in who have lost their sight for every reason there is: combat, traffic accidents, strokes, gunshot wounds, diabetes, glaucoma and other eye diseases. It never ceases to amaze me the number of things that can happen to the human eyes. I have met a Vietnam veteran who was blinded in the war, a young person who was shot by a relative, a retired admiral suffering from Macular Degeneration, and an 83-year-old retired schoolteacher who, after her spouse passed away, needed a dog to help her get around.
A pair of eyes is given to each of these individuals in the form of a guide dog. As a volunteer my greatest reward is the opportunity to witness this freedom and independence. Thank you for supporting Southeastern Guide Dogs.