By Kathy L. Collins

In order to provide guide dogs for a variety of individuals, Southeastern Guide Dogs depends on volunteers to be puppy raisers. Volunteers who take puppies into their homes and help them learn socialization and basic obedience from the age of about 10 weeks until they return for their formal harness training at anywhere from 14 to 16 months.

Recently, Southeastern Guide Dogs joined forces with MacDill Air Force Base to create a unique MacDill Puppy Raiser Group. For the very first time, all puppies raised by this group will be earmarked for Paws for Patriots careers. This means they are destined to serve veterans as future guide dogs, service dogs, facility therapy dogs and emotional support dogs.

Southeastern Guide Dogs currently has 30 puppy raiser groups across six states. Each and every puppy raiser donates their time, resources and love for the sake of future superheroes. But this MacDill puppy raiser group is different because it is veterans helping veterans.

“Serving our veterans is an important part of our mission,” explained Titus Herman, CEO of Southeastern Guide Dogs. “The MacDill group will help raise our puppies and help raise awareness of our extraordinary dogs, transforming the lives of veterans who are living with visual impairments, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and physical and emotional challenges.”

Carole Adamczyk and Mary-Jo Keeth are the co-area coordinators for the group. “I am a puppy raiser for Southeastern Guide Dogs because I found a place where I could volunteer, share my knowledge and love of dogs, and give someone the priceless independence of a guide or service dog,” said Adamczyk. “This MacDill puppy raiser group is so special because it allows us a way to help our veterans and their families.”

The group meets on a bi-monthly basis near MacDill Air Force Base. Southeastern Guide Dogs is actively seeking volunteer puppy raisers. Visit www.GuideDogs.org/RaiseAPuppy for more information.