Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hi Fello Graduates:

I just got the scoop on what’s going on at Vinoy Park during and following the walkathon, and I thought I’d pass it along to you. So you’re reading it first, right here!

In addition to crowds of people and dogs everywhere, the staff at Southeastern have been working hard to set up all kinds of fun for this special day. Events Coordinator, Stacy Price, told me that they have confirmed a number of food venders, with more to be firmed up soon. These include food trucks such as Jimmy Meat Balls; Maggie on the Move (selling breakfast sandwiches, pitas, and other types of sandwiches); and Keepin’ It Reel (selling seafood).

Laura Allen Photography Studios, specializing in pet photos will take pictures of dogs. Veterinarians will be around to answer questions and offer tips. Have your tired feet massaged by Healing in Balance who specialize in reflexology. Let your kids enjoy the Bounce house, provided by Let’s Jump.
 And don’t forget to stroll by the items from Southeastern’s own gift shop.
There will also be a silent auction.  

End up your fantastic day at the Celebration dinner. Stroll through the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts during the cocktail hour and then join us for a fab dinner and results of the Walkathon fundraising efforts.

Southeastern Guide Dog's 26th walkathon will be more than a walk in the park. Come join us, and spread the word!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

26th Annual WALKATHON Saturday, March 3, 2012 Vinoy Park - Saint Petersburg, Florida
It is happening again and in a beautiful new location. Come be a part of this year’s exciting event. Support our school. Join us for food, music, fun, companionship and a wonderful 3K walk. Tell all your friends, family, neighbors and coworkers about SEGD and the Walkathon to raise money. And be sure to sell raffle tickets.
The Walkathon helps Southeastern Guide Dogs continue providing services for us after graduating and dogs for new students. Think about the life-changing gift of mobility Southeastern gave to us. Remember how special we felt, how grateful we were to everyone who trained, fed, and supported us for those few weeks. Now, its time for us to help each other and to share the life-changing gift of mobility with someone else. We need to be champions for ourselves, for our dogs, and for our wonderful school. The annual walkathon is one of the best ways we can do this.
Of course, not all of us can afford to attend because of travel and hotel expenses, but this doesn't mean we can’t get involved for our donation to count. We can send our donation and raffle ticket money in a check to SEGD and include a note saying that it is our contribution for the Walkathon.
Need some ideas to raise money? Here’s what some of us are doing. Try one or all of these. It is easy. Create your own donation web page at We can help you set it up, or someone at the school can help as well. We don’t have to be afraid to ask for support to do this. We can send notes to all our friends on Facebook. We can go to all the businesses we frequent where they have seen us with our guides, the grocer, our favorite restaurant, where we buy our clothes and ask for them to “play it forward”. We can e-mail all our friends in our address books. We can throw a party and ask for a donation as an entrance fee, and while everyone is there, sell raffle tickets (the first prize is $10,000). We can come up with more ideas, so let everyone know them. Blog back your thoughts. Need more help or have questions? Contact SEGD at 941.729.5665, or

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Packing for your Guide Dog when flying
By Bob Smallwood
It is always helpful to have friends or family with you when you travel. Then there are the times when you need to fly by yourself on a business or pleasure trip, so be prepared and do not hesitate to ask for help. I fly with my guide dog many times throughout the year on business and want to share some of my experiences that may help you.
Before you go, plan your packing. Just as you sort your things for the carry on and checked luggage, do the same for your dog.   First thing I do is put each day’s meal for my dog in separate sealable baggies. I then add any daily supplements that he gets with each meal into those baggies. Packing individual meals this way is not only convenient but lets you fill in all those little empty spaces in your luggage.
            In my carry on, for my dog, I pack two days meals, small or collapsible water bowl (dogs get easily dehydrated when flying), any medications, treats, waste cleanup bags, proof of rabies or other shots required when traveling out of country, and a small first aid kit. Sometimes checked luggage gets lost and this gives me time to replace missing items for my dog.
            In my checked luggage goes the remainder of his food, a bowl for water and one for his food, more treats, more cleanup bags, his favorite toy, a dog comb or brush, and a sweater if traveling in the cold weather. I also pack my white cane in case of an emergency or injury of my dog.
In my experience, it is best not to feed my dog, Skye, for at least 12 hours before flying. On long flights, this means we are not looking for relief areas during what might be a short layover. I do feed Skye when we arrive at our destination.
            This helps us both in making the trip easier and more pleasurable. So plan ahead. It only takes minutes and may save hours.

Flying with your Guide Dog
By Bob Smallwood

          Now I am packed, have taken my dog for a walk, and ready to leave for the airport. When going to the airport in a taxi or by other means, I get dropped off at curbside check in if possible.  Curbside check in has shorter lines and they can get you a skycap to escort you to the gate. The skycap will get you and your dog quickly through security. One caution, skycaps tend to move rapidly. If they walk too fast for you or your dog, make them slow down.

            At the security checkpoint, make sure to have your I.D. and ticket easily accessible. Place items like your belt, cell phone, Keys, coins, or any other metal objects into your carry on. I have a small zippered bag that clips to my luggage for these items. This makes it easier as you or your assistant will not need to search through several containers to make sure you have everything.
            When you get to the gate, confirm that you will have an escort onto the plane. If traveling alone, have the skycap seat you and explain where the counter and gate personnel are if you need help. Do not forget to tip the skycap. If I am on a long flight and at a layover gate when my dog needs to go out for a walk, I ask the gate personnel for help. They have always been helpful.  If no relief area was near the gate, they have on occasion escorted us out onto the tarmac for my dog to relieve himself.

            Upon boarding the plane, with a cabin Stewart escorting us, I remove my dogs harness in order to make it easier for both of us to maneuver down the aisle and get seated.  My dog, who weighs 90 pounds, then tucks himself under the seat in front of me. If on a long flight, remember to get the water bowl out of your carry on and ask the Stewart for a bottle of water for your dog. The planes air may make your dog quickly dehydrated. Now sit back and relax.

            Before disembarking from the plane, if at a layover or final destination, confirm with the cabin Stewart that an escort or skycap will meet you at the gate to get you where you need to be. Planning ahead and asking for help will ensure that your travel is less stressful both for you and your dog.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Passion and a Purpose
Interview with puppy raiser Alice Boose
By Shirley Tracy

Why would anyone want to pour their heart and their money into a precious puppy, do the hard work of housebreaking, obedience training and socializing them, only to have to give them up in about a year? That’s the first question I asked Alice Boose, a long-time puppy raiser for Southeastern Guide Dogs.

I first met Alice at a writers group meeting last spring. A gentle, soft-spoken woman, she had wonderful things to say about Southeastern, and she was thrilled to see me out and about with my guide dog Cleo, a real-life example of what the program is all about.

Alice’s connection to Southeastern began nearly twenty years ago, when she and her husband Bob met a couple at their church who frequently talked about going somewhere and hugging puppies. "One day Alice asked the wife, “Where do you go to do that?”

The woman told her, “Southeastern Guide Dogs,” and explained where it was located.

As soon as she could, Alice found a day in her schedule to visit the kennels. “I went down and hugged puppies,” she says, “and I just fell in love with those little puppies.”

Alice says she also recognized that this was a made-to-order community service for her, because her mother was blind, as well as two of her mother’s sisters, and Alice could appreciate the work and mission of the program.

“    I feel that everybody should have something that they’re passionate about,” she says, “and I became very passionate about that.”

Puppy hugging was only the beginning. Alice soon began walking dogs, participating in walkathons, and performing other volunteer work for the school.

On her first walkathon Alice raised enough money to name a dog. She decided if she could name a dog, she ought to raise it. So twelve years ago, she and Bob began raising puppies. Their first dog was a goldador named Grace. Their most recent dogs have been collies. Presently, Alice says they are without a puppy but might like another.

When asked how she feels about raising a puppy and then having to give it up, she responds honestly, “That’s the hardest thing in the world. They tell us thirty days ahead what particular week we are to bring them in, and that’s when I get sad and start crying. But I focus on what the dog is going to do--what their job is going to be and how they are going to help other people. So that’s how I’m able to give them back, wish them success, and hope that they do get to be a guide for a blind person. You can’t help but bond with them and love them, but you go through that agony because its absolutely worth it.”

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The following holiday tips are provided by Rose City Animal Hospital, Portland, Oregon:

Lights, decorations, good food... every year, as we celebrate the holidays, we fill
our homes with seasonal cheer for ourselves and our families. However, what may seem
beautiful and harmless to us may pose hidden dangers to our pets. Don't let an emergency
spoil the festivities! Below are some common holiday hazards for dogs and cats and
ways to prevent them.
Holiday Hazard
How to keep your pet safe
Dangerous Foods
The following can be toxic to pets: chocolate, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, garlic,
onion, alcohol, caffeinated beverages, bread dough, and sugar-free candy and gum
containing the artificial sweetener xylitol.
Regular Foods
Despite tradition, bones should never be given to pets. Even beef, ham, and other
"regular" foods that are not considered toxic can cause illness in pets. If your
pet is a moocher, keep a saucer of his regular treats on the table to offer when
he asks. He probably won't know the difference!
New Treats and Toys
Even a pet-safe treat can cause stomach upset if it is new to your pet. Offer only
one of these at a time (ideally, separated by a few days). If your pet becomes ill
after eating a holiday treat, it will be easier to trace the source and discontinue
it. Also, check new toys for sharp edges, pieces that can be chewed off, or other
potential hazards.
Hazardous plants include mistletoe, some evergreens (including some types of pine),
and holly bushes and berries. Try to keep these plants away from pets, or at least
supervise pets when dangerous plants are nearby.
Tinsel, tree ornaments, ribbons, string, and garlands are some items that can be
dangerous if eaten by pets. Keep these items away from pets — especially when pets
are unattended. Don't forget to cover any electrical cords or keep them out of reach.
Fire and Carbon Monoxide
Monitor pets near fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, candles, and portable heaters.
Also, don't forget to check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to make
sure they are functioning properly. Space heaters, furnaces, and idling cars (in
a garage) can increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in pets and humans.
Christmas Trees
Monitor your pets when they are around your holiday tree. Pets may eat the needles
(even from artificial trees) or drink water from the base of the tree, which can
be toxic (especially if there are preservatives in it). Keep electrical cords and
decorative lights out of reach, too.
In many cases, if your pet has eaten or drunk something toxic, warning signs will
include gastrointestinal problems, such as vomiting and diarrhea. Other signs may include tiredness and lack of appetite, especially in cats that have eaten lilies.

Contributed here by Dulce Weisenborn.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Have you set up your fund raising page to help raise money for the Southeastern Guide Dogs 26th annual walkathon?  This year, SEGD is providing us with a clever tool to help us with our efforts.  Anyone who visits and sets up their own walkathon fund raising page can receive “business cards” with your dog’s picture and name on the front and the link to your sit stay page on the back.  You can use these cards to publicize your site to help SEGD. After you have set up your page, Contact Miranda Spinner at if you would like her to order some of these cards for you. She will need your name, address, phone number, dog’s name, and the link to your sit stay give page.

To set up your sit stay give donation page:
2.  Click on the link that says “get started.”
3.  You can upload your own photo or the school will provide a picture of you and your dog. 
4.  fill in the required information for each field:  name, address, email, password, etc. 
5.  Create the link for your page.  This link will start with followed by your preference, your name, your dog’s name, it’s your choice. You do not need to type in the first part of the link in the edit field, only your unique identifier after the slash. 
6.  After you have filled in all required information, press the submit button at the bottom of the page.
7.  You will come to another page, which will ask you to create a message for your page.  You can create your own message or use one of the customized messages available on the site, depending on whether you are a graduate, puppy raiser, volunteer, etc.  Check the appropriate radio button to view and/or change the customized message.
8.  When finished, click on the continue link.  For speech users, this one is located at the top of the page.
9.  Your page will be created and saved.  You can always log in and go back and edit it afterwards.

Submitted by Dolores Myers


Monday, December 12, 2011

Some useful Information
The following link, posted on the Seeing Eye web site lists each state and its current guide dog access and protection laws. 

For screen reader users, you can use the links list hot key provided by your screen reader, (insert f7 for Jaws users), and press the first letter of your state to jump directly to your state’s listing.  The page also contains other information handlers may find helpful. 

Happy holidays from Dolores and Blossom!!