Hi Everyone, I’m Pilot!
I’m so bouncy to be here with you Taylor! Thanks for asking me to do this interview.

I’m a black Labrador retriever, training to be a Guide Dog for Southeastern Guide Dog Organization, in Palmetto, FL. That’s where I was born. But, I’m living and working here with Nancy Colby for my puppy training. She’s been my Human since I was 10 weeks old!

When I get fully trained, I will be a Guide Dog for a blind person. There are LOTS of blind people who want a guide dog, maybe not enough of us dogs to go around.

Pilot, Nancy Colby, Guide Dog Puppy TrainerRight now, I’m told I’m still a rambunctious, crazy puppy. But I am learning lots of skills. When I put on my cape, I know it’s time to learn; like being in school. When the cape comes off, I can run and play. I love to chase my ball and bring it back to Nancy! Did someone say ‘Squirrel’!?

(Nancy, would you mind putting on my cape? I just can’t sit still. *** Oh – thanks, that’s better.)

So far, I have learned Sit, Stay, Down, Off and lots of other manners. Nancy is trained to know all the skills I need before I graduate to “In For Training” (IFT.)

And I go everywhere with her, it’s fun! I have on my cape, so I know it’s time to work and not be crazy. We go to stores, on trips, to the Airport, all so I learn all about people. People can be silly sometimes. Some want to pet my head, some are afraid of me, some are sad for me (they don’t know how excited I am for my future life). If it’s OK with Nancy, they are allowed to pet me. Kids are my favorite! I’m not allowed to give them a quick lick, but sometimes I can’t help myself. They smell so good!

Pilot, Southeastern Guide DogWe go to SEGD Chapter meetings every week or so in Ft Myers. Lots of my friends are there. We learn and practice new skills with our Humans. I’m usually tired by the end of our meetings and rest up on the ride home. By the time we get home, I’m ready to rock-n-roll again!

I love what I’m doing – and Nancy makes it so much fun. When I get to be about 14 months old, I will go on to the next level of training. I will have to leave Nancy, we’ll be sad to part – but also happy for me to continue on my journey. When I am “In For Training”, I will live at the school in Palmetto. They will give me Career Testing to make sure I’m a good candidate for serving a blind person. If not, I will have the opportunity for other careers; like being a companion dog for a former soldier, breeding more guide dogs, or I might be put up for adoption. We service dogs are not forced into a job we don’t like. Right now, my heart is set on becoming a Guide Dog.

After 4 months of IFT, I will get placed with my Forever Human. That person will come live at the school for a month while we train together. When we’re ready to go home, I’ll get to see Nancy again at a celebration luncheon for all of us. I will then work for 8 years. We continue to train, the school keeps track of our progress together. When I retire, either my Forever Human or Nancy can invite me to live on with them – or I can be adopted.

Nancy said, when I’m all trained, my value is $60,000. My cost to my Forever Human, however, is $0! How can the organization do that? Nancy said, people help.*

Thank you for listening to my story. And thanks to Taylor and the Cats n Dogs folks for asking!
Your friend,
Pilot

[From Nancy: “Yes, people help … by raising puppies, hosting fundraising events, volunteering, sponsoring and donating needed items and money. For more information, Southeastern Guide Dogs explains it all on their website. You are also welcome to email me with your questions.]

Southeastern Guide Dogs logo

Current Events:

  • NEXT Dental Clinic at the Cats N Dogs store is March 11: Non-anesthesia dog & cat dental cleaning, doesn’t hurt, and a really nice vet, Dr. Kristin Swanson, works on you. Appointments are necessary: Call 941-724-0366 or visit www.naturalveterinaryservices.com for more info.
  • ShotVet.com offers affordable pet shots at the Cats N Dogs store every other Sunday, 9:30 – 10:30 AM. (2826 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte) No appointment necessary. Next date is Sunday, January 28th.
  • WOOFstock is happening! February 10, 11 AM – 3 PM. Put on by the Canine Club and North Port Parks & Recreation, this family friendly event will be so cool! Browse, shop and mingle with other dogs and their Humans! MORE INFO

Lots of Newsy News in our monthly newsletter – does your Human want to receive specials and notices by Email? Sign up below.

Our promise to you: we never sell or give away your contact info. Your privacy is important to us! You can expect to receive a news blast about once a month, that’s all.