Meet Ray, Only Puppy on Coast Being Trained as Guide Dog
Ray is a six month old yellow lab and unlike most puppies, one day Ray will be paired with a visually impaired adult to help make life a little easier. Jennifer Taylor, a puppy raiser for Southeastern Guide Dogs, says, "For example, if you’re on a street corner and you want to cross the street and there’s a quiet Prius driving by and you don’t hear it, but the dog sees it, it won’t allow you to take him across that street."
Southeastern Guide Dogs is an organization based in Florida. Taylor will raise Ray until his is about 18 months old, teaching him basic socialization and house manners. Then Ray will go to a formal training school, where he will learn all the crucial skills needed to be a guide dog. Right now while there are only two puppy raisers on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Southeastern Guide Dogs is hoping more people will volunteer their services. Taylor also says, "This is something we can do here in south Mississippi. This is how we can contribute, if not globally, at least throughout the southeast and you know, we can all take part in it."
Taylor says being a puppy raiser is perfect for someone who loves dogs. She says it’s incredible to be a part of raising such special animals. Taylor closes, "When we put the jacket on them, they go from being dogs to having this air about them. They just know that it’s time to work, and when we take the jackets off, they get to be dogs again. They just seem to really blossom. They love what they do."
Even if you don’t want the responsibility of raising a guide dog puppy like Ray, you can always donate to Southeastern Guide Dogs. The organization provides the dog and all the care associated with the dog to the visually impaired completely free of charge.