By Ruth Lando
Southeastern Guide Dogs has added an exciting new dimension to its highly popular puppy hugging activity with the launch of the Puppy Kindergarten Adventure. While guests have loved playing with adorable puppies and helping to socialize and accustom them to human interaction, the Puppy Kindergarten Adventure goes further. Up to seven guests at a time will actually become volunteer Kindergarten teachers, upping the educational value of playtime as the puppies experience fun, multi-sensory learning sessions that expose them to new sights, sounds, puzzles, textures, under-footings, and more. Every intimate experience is geared to preparing the dogs for the diverse environments and physical activities they will face as extraordinary service dogs.
“Our future superhero guide and service dogs are going to transform someone’s world and change a life forever someday,” said Leslie Shepard, director of puppy raising services. “The creation of extraordinary dogs is both an art and a science, and our education and training strategies follow clear career paths from pre-school to graduation. The Puppy Kindergarten Adventure introduces young dogs to important skills and competencies during the first three months of life, when their brains and learning ability are developing most rapidly.”
Puppy Kindergarten Adventure will include a variety of different curriculums, each focusing on one particular lesson, such as Health Class, which teaches puppies about staying calm for veterinary exams. Physical Education promotes the exploration of new surfaces and under-footings. No matter which module visitors are offered, they will enjoy novel and engaging hands-on experiences of play with a purpose led by trained volunteer puppy educators.
The Puppy Kindergarten Adventure is suitable for ages 6 and up. Guests must register online at www.guidedogs.org/activities/puppy-kindergarten-adventure. One-hour sessions are offered Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. The cost is $25 per person and proceeds help defray food and other expenses for Southeastern Guide Dogs, which is a nonprofit that has nurtured almost 3,000 partnerships between inspirational people and extraordinary guide and service dogs.
Southeastern Guide Dogs is located at 4210 77th St. in Palmetto. For more information, visit www.GuideDogs.org or call 941-729-5665.