On a brisk Saturday afternoon in January, The Ale and The Witch welcomed well-behaved dogs and their two-legged masters to enjoy a beer and learn about the upcoming Southeastern Guide Dogs (SEGD) Walkathon in St. Petersburg Feb. 24.
Many of the canines sported vests showing they were associated with SEGD. Some were puppies being raised by volunteers for a year or so learning house manners and basic obedience before they head to formal training. Some were ambassadors for the program who, with their han- dlers, go out in the community to conduct educational outreach. A few were breeder dogs who stay with a host family in their homes until they are needed for breeding or whelping, and some were working guide or service dogs.
The non-profit’s eight Walkathons held from Orland to Ft. Myers each spring are their largest fundraisers and allow them to raise, train, and match their guide dogs to visually impaired persons and veterans or others with post-traumatic stress disorder and other disabilities.
Two and four-legged friends are invited to join in this exciting community event being held in Vinoy Park with a 3K walk, live music, local vendors and the SEGD Gift Shop. Festivities begin at 8:30 a.m. with opening ceremonies at 9:30 a.m. and the walk at 10 a.m. There is a raffle drawing onsite for $1,000 at 11 a.m., and tickets are available for a $10,000 drawing to be held on May 7.
Participants may join a team or sign up as an individual. There are also individual fundraising incentives including Walkathon Dog Bandanas, T-shirts, polos, tumblers and top incentive is naming a Southeastern Guide Dog puppy or funding a student scholarship.
For more information or to sign up go to www.GuideDogsWalkathon.org.