PALMETTO, Fla. — Ever since Meghan Watson was a little girl all she’s wanted to do is raise guide dog puppies.
The passion started when her father, who is blind, received his first guide dog from Southeastern Guide Dogs in Manatee County, and she saw how much it helped him.
"Whenever he was using a guide dog he could do whatever he wanted to do. He could go for a walk by himself. He could go to the grocery store. Which was incredible to see," said Watson.
That passion drove Watson to turn her dream into a reality. Now she’s on her fifth puppy-in-training for Southeastern Guide Dogs. She raises each puppy for about a year. Teaching them a foundation of guide dog skills before giving the dog back, something that is not easy to do.
"It is not a great feeling giving them up, it's definitely hard, it's heartbreaking. You put all of your time, effort, soul, love, into these dogs for a year to 16 months of your life and you become attached to them," said Watson.
But Watson says knowing the puppy is going on to do great things is such a reward.
"You just have to remember that you didn’t raise this dog for you, you raised it for someone else and they’re meant to go out into the world and serve a much higher purpose," said Watson.
If you're interested in becoming a puppy raiser volunteer, visit the Southeastern Guide Dogs website here.