Happy Halloween! The gentle hills of our community are perfect for Trick or Treaters and dog walkers alike. My dachshund Bree meets many of his four-legged friends on our daily walks. Caramel, Toby, Maggie and Bella are a few favorites. But his best buddy is Seymour, another playful doxie in the neighborhood.
For many years, neighbors Laurie and Cliff Carpenter have been actively involved with the Southeastern Guide Dog organization. Founded in 1982, the organization places more than 100 dogs each year into careers benefiting veterans and the visually-impaired. Puppy raisers like the Carpenters provide full-time care until the pup is 14 months old. Home activities promote socialization. Once returned to headquarters in Palmetto, Florida, the pups are evaluated and then begin training for guide dog or veteran service dog work.
Of course, not every dog is perfectly suited for these demanding jobs. Scarlett, a guide dog in training, started showing signs of stress when returned to her kennel. The puppy raiser team made the tough decision to release Scarlett from the program. She was then adopted back to the Carpenters who had helped raise her during her first year.
But Scarlett’s job was far from over! Marsha Brinson is the director of the Lady Lake Public Library. Her future plans include enlarging the library’s programs, especially for children. Laurie thought a reading therapy dog would fit perfectly into the youth program, improving the children’s literacy skills, building their confidence and self-esteem. Exciting plans are now in the works for Miss Scarlett to be the new Reading Dog in the Lady Lake Public Library!
In addition to donations, Southeastern Guide Dogs holds annual walk-a-thons. The Orlando Walkathon is April 11, 2020. For information or donations, go to http://participate.guidedogs.