Canine Health Is Important

August 27, 2020

Southeastern Guide Dogs has a sterling reputation for breeding, raising and training extraordinary guide dogs for sight-impaired individuals, service dogs for veterans with disabilities and companion dogs for children with significant life challenges.

Towards that end, the nonprofit organization is always adding programs that help its dogs and recipients have a longer and happier relationship together.

One of these is its two-year-old Canine Fitness Program, which includes the recently opened Stephen and Marcia Miner Canine Aquatic Center.

“Our program started in July 2018 and is comprised of four staff members and several volunteers,” said Jessica D’Ambrosio, its manager and a certified canine rehabilitation technician. “Its primary focus is to extend the working career of our dogs by improving their physical and mental fitness.”

The program has several components. “The first is physiotherapy, which involves agility equipment, stairs, ramps and inflatable props that move, provide different textures and are used for several physical exercises,” D’Ambrosio said. “The exercises we use focus on specific muscle groups, including (a dog’s) core, back legs, front legs and overall body. “It’s a great way for our dogs to expend energy and increase fitness.”

There’s a land treadmill for cardio that looks just like the one used by humans, and a waist-high hydrotherapy tank, where the dogs “that may be struggling with a specific health issue” can walk under water. It’s also an alternative to the land treadmill for these future superheroes.

D’Ambrosio is especially proud of what she called Southeastern Guide Dogs’ “incredible” aquatic pool, which has been in use since February.

“A few of our dogs don’t like the water, but most dive right in and thoroughly enjoy exercising in the pool by doing laps with us or swimming against their own resistance, using something called a “Super Swim,” D’Ambrosio said. “This device resembles a fishing pole, and it connects to a dog’s life vest, allowing [the dog] to swim away from the pole against its own resistance to build muscle and increase its cardiovascular health.”

After they’re returned by their puppy raisers and before starting with their trainers, all Southeastern dogs go through the Canine Fitness Program for one hour a day for four weeks. When they’re not working the program, they go back to their kennels to participate in a variety of enrichment activities. Each kennel houses two or three dogs.

“I love seeing how each dog progresses in confidence and physical fitness form the time they start to the time they leave us,” D’Ambrosio said. The idea is “if our dogs are healthier, they can possibly work longer and continue with their handlers. Fitness and health make their working lives easier.”

Southeastern Guide Dogs’ guide, service or companion dogs retire around age 10 or 11, and they’re adopted by the person they served, their puppy raisers or private individuals.

  • Most Recent News

    Helping Vets And Pets

    December 4, 2020

    AUTHOR AND ILLUSTRATOR Phyllis Limbacher Tildes always had a soft spot for those in need, and when she saw a video of rescued shelter pets being trained to help veterans cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, she felt compelled to give back. This burning desire helped inspire her to create a project she calls “Art […]

    Read more

    Service Dog Community

    December 4, 2020

    No longer will emotional support animals be considered service animals. A service animal is defined only as “a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.” That means “emotional support” peacocks, pigs and horses will no longer be able to fly. For Kelly […]

    Read more

    Health Wellness For Dogs

    December 4, 2020

    As humans, we’re increasingly taking care of our health and wellbeing in holistic ways – and now, it’s the same when it comes to our dog. Subsequently, a growing market of pet treatments, therapies and supplements are now available meaning our pampered pooches have never had it so good. “Dog owners consider their dogs as […]

    Read more

    Power Of Dogs

    December 4, 2020

    It’s been a difficult year for non-profit. Many rely on big gatherings and fundraisers to create the profit they need to keep the organization running. The same goes for Project 2 Heal, a Waxhaw non-profit, who works to raise puppies to become service animals. Project 2 Heal are believers in that a dig is a […]

    Read more

    Paws With A Cause

    December 4, 2020

     The Department of Transportation has ruled that airlines will no longer allow Emotional Support Animals on airplanes. Local assistance dog organization, Paws With A Cause, explains what this ruling means for them. Paws With A Cause, based in Wayland, custom-trains Assistance Dogs for people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act defines an Assistance Dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Jax

    December 4, 2020

    After every home game, Chandler head football coach Rick Garretson meets his wife, Wendy, and his kids at the north end zone at Austin Field. It’s there he greets his family and takes the leash of his German shepherd, Jax, who is a certified therapy dog. The two then walk toward the team huddle where […]

    Read more

    Service Dog Training

    December 4, 2020

    Do you love dogs and want to do a bit of good for the world at the same time? Now’s your time to shine. Southeastern Guide Dogs a non-profit organization that trains dogs to assist veterans and those with disabilities, is looking for a few willing volunteers to raise puppies for 12-18 months. Here’s how […]

    Read more

    Raising Money For Service Dog

    December 4, 2020

    One Somerset family is expressing their gratitude for their local community, which has come together to help them make life better and safer for two of their children. Brothers Dylan, 13, and Chase, 12, are the sons of Jami Johnson. Both were diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum as toddlers. And while the family […]

    Read more

    Guide Dogs

    December 4, 2020

    A yellow Labrador retriever named Paul was born to be a Southeastern Guide Dogs superhero, but as fate would have it, that wasn’t to be. Barely out of puppyhood, the 30-month-old dog spent his formative months like every future guide dog, living for his first year or so with puppy raisers, and then heading back […]

    Read more

    Wavely The Therapy Dog

    December 4, 2020

    or students stressed about tough classes or feeling anxious during the COVID-19 pandemic, Tupelo High School’s new therapy dog in training – a goldendoodle named Wavely – will be there to help. Anne Marie Goad, a special education teacher and MET Chair at the high school, had the notion to get a therapy dog for […]

    Read more

    More Recent News