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Florida Hospital Leaders Raising Guide Puppy


A Labrador Retriever puppy is learning the ropes as a guide dog at a Sarasota, Florida, hospital. Jennifer Bocker is the chief medical officer of the HCA Florida Sarasota Doctors Hospital. She, along with Kelley Malloy, the facility’s chief operations officer, are sharing the responsibilities of raising the 13-week-old guide dog at home and at work.

Guide puppy joins staff of Florida Hospital

The guide dog in training is named Skipper. According to Patch, the puppy hails from the nonprofit Southeastern Guide Dogs. That organization breeds, raises, and trains both guide dogs for the visually impaired as well as service dogs for veterans experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Though she is very much still a fur baby, Skipper is already mastering many skills. She is working on basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “walk.” Additionally, she is learning how to get around bustling spaces in the hospital and go in and out of elevators. Finally, she is figuring out “how to deal with copious requests for puppy kisses from caregivers,” according to a press release from the hospital. What a ruff job!

Hospital workers delight in new canine coworker

“We work in a busy and stressful environment. Having Skipper here lightens our days,” Bocker said. “She is not visiting our patients, because she is a guide dog in training, but there are so many smiles when Skipper visits our caregivers. This is a great environment for her to learn socialization. She is very smart, loves tummy rubs and sleeping under our desks.”

“Puppy raisers play an integral role in the lives of our dogs and even into the lives of the people who ultimately become their match,” Shepherd added. “It is an incredibly rewarding experience and a great opportunity for co-workers, friends, or families to be a part of something that is meaningful, rewarding, and fun.”

The plan is for Skipper to continue to train and live with hospital leadership until she is 12 to 14 months old. “The goal is for her to be a guide dog, service dog or skilled companion dog to assist people with vision loss, veterans or children,” the hospital said.

Read up on the differences between therapy, working, service, and emotional support dogs. Also, check out the best dog breeds for people with disabilities or medical conditions.


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