St. Pete-Clearwater Int'l Airport Provides Training Environment for New Guide Dogs

As published on July 30, 2019

PALMETTO, Fla. — Imagine having brand-new baby, taking that child home and raising your baby for a year -- only to have to hand that child over to someone else. 

“She’s definitely my baby:" That’s how Steph James describes Jo-jo, a black lab who is 7 months old. In six months, Jo-jo will go to school to become a guide dog. 

James is the regional director and puppy raiser for Southeastern Guide Dogs. It’s something she has done twice before, but the end is never easy. Right now, she and Jo-jo are at the halfway mark.

“I just always thought it would be so cool,” James said. “You can take this dog with you and then it goes on to help someone and change a life.” 

Puppy raisers have to take these dogs into different places to expose them to people, sounds and situations that would excite any dog. No matter who gets Jo-jo, she will be able to keep that person safe.

The training takes her to places like St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport. The goal is for the dog to, one day, be skilled enough to guide a person who has no vision through an airport. Read More

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