TAMPA (FOX 13) - It's all about the puppies at Southeastern Guide Dogs’ new puppy academy. It’s actually more like a preschool for canines – to help dogs grow up to help people.
The folks at Southeastern say they’ve needed this program for a while, and now it’s here.
Inside, it looks like a kennel, but it’s much more than that. The dogs are destined to become Seeing Eye dogs or emotional support for wounded veterans. And puppies will actually be born at the facility, and then begin their training when they’re old enough.
"Our puppies will start out there and they'll go from nursery school to preschool to kindergarten, and along the way we're going to expose them to everyday things. Things as simple as a vacuum cleaner, so when they go into their puppy-raiser home when they're 10 weeks old, that's not surprising. They've already been exposed to that. A hair dryer or maybe we'll pop an umbrella and see what their reaction is to that," explained Stacy Howe with Southeastern Guide Dogs.
The $4.7-million building was paid for entirely by donations. And if you need a puppy fix, Southeastern actually allows people to come play with their puppies, to get them used to being handled. But it’s by appointment only.
Right now they're moving the moms and puppies from the old kennel to the new puppy academy, but they'll start taking appointments again in June.
To learn more, visit https://www.guidedogs.org/activities/puppy-kindergarten-adventure/.