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Longboat Key Wednesday, May 8, 2019 2 years ago

Longboat resident helps furry friends in spare time

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Volunteering at Southeastern Guide Dogs allows Patty McBride to use her love of dogs to give back.
by: Katie Johns Community Editor

When Patty McBride retired from her advertising career, she wanted to stay busy.

So she started to look for organizations for which she could volunteer.

She thought about volunteering at the library but decided she wanted something more active. Then she thought she might like to help veterans. Finally, she found Southeastern Guide Dogs, which would keep her active, allow her to help veterans and utilize her love for dogs.

After going through the interview process and training, she began volunteering there about three years ago. She started, like most volunteers, with the puppies as there are a lot of them, then she worked with the older dogs, most around 14 months old, who return to the campus after house training.

When working with the dogs, McBride, who volunteers twice a week, said the volunteers do everything — feeding, walking, cleaning — you name it, and the  volunteers do it.

Most recently, she became part of the volunteer advisory board and the canine conditioning program, which is for young adult dogs that are preparing for training.

“It’s a chance for you to educate yourself, help with dogs, give back to others and then all your efforts toward the dog then transfer to the students and every aspect of the organization, and it’s awesome,” McBride said.

McBride has also participated in the organization’s canine camp, which gives training guide dogs a weekend break. When the dogs participate in K9 camp, they get a weekend off from the hustle and bustle of the kennels, but it’s also a reminder for them on how to act in a house.

“It’s like when kids go off to camp and kind of forget what they’re supposed to do,” McBride said. “It reminds them of manners.”

In addition to staying active both physically and mentally, volunteering at Southeastern Guide Dogs makes her happy. She said she was worried about committing to an organization and then feeling like she didn’t fit in.

Fortunately, she hasn’t felt that way at Southeastern Guide Dogs. She enjoys it so much, it’s hard to take breaks.

“You actually feel guilty if you go out of town,” she said. “They (Southeastern Guide Dogs) give you all the flexibility in the world, but you feel so invested in the organization and for the dogs, you feel as guilty as leaving a child behind when you go on vacation.”

The more she volunteers, the more she falls in love with the organization, she said, especially when she attends the guide dogs graduation ceremony. At the ceremony, each veteran or person receiving a guide dog shares his or her story.

“It’s just so heartwarming to see dogs you helped, even if it was just cleaning their kennel, you touched that dog in some way or the person involved or the trainers involved,” she said. “You just feel so connected and so satisfied with the end result of these folks getting the freedom and companionship and all of that.”

And while humans, like McBride, might get a lot out of volunteering, the dogs get more.

“And for the dogs? They want a purpose,” McBride said. “They want to work, something to do, so I think it’s a win-win for everybody.”

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I’m Katie. I’m the Longboat Observer community editor, which means I cover all people, places and things pertaining to Longboat Key. I graduated from the University of Missouri in 2016 with degrees in journalism and Spanish. Reach me at 941-366-3468 ext. 364.
 

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