Bob Witte CCDT
Trainer, ASB Program South West Florida Division
I have grown up with and have loved dogs my entire life, from the little Maltese Pekingese to the large yellow lab. Shortly after moving to Florida from Illinois our Yellow Lab of 13 yrs passed away. This seemingly tragic event actually ended up being the beginning of my dog training career.
I had learned of Southeastern Guide Dogs in Palmetto, Florida and instantly became a Puppy Raiser. Receiving tremendous support through encouragement, training, and learning with others in our area totally changed my life. I have raised two guide dogs and one service dog. Our first dog, Doc had a career change due to a medical condition, so we adopted him. We as a team are registered and certified through Alliance of Therapy Dogs and participated in SAR training with the Peace River SAR team in Englewood, Florida. Doc is a great mentor dog for young pups and adolescent dogs for socialization.
Learning about the power of force free training and positive reinforcement influenced my desire to learn more, which led me to enroll with Catch Canine Academy. Part of the curriculum was to be paired with a mentor and volunteer at a shelter. I had the privilege and honor to be paired with Jeff Joyce as my mentor who gave me everything all the books were trying to describe and explain and then some. I so enjoyed volunteering, that I joined the behavior team full-time, which was the highlight of this experience.
Currently, I am a group leader in the Punta Gorda puppy raisers group for Southeastern Guide Dog, developing and training puppy raisers in socialization, house manners, and 15 basic training skills, which pertain to a guide/service dog. The group consists of raisers from Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, North Port, and Englewood, Florida.
I’ve done demonstrations for various school groups, illustrating how every dog has something to teach us and how essential a sound relationship is to this process. Sharing my life with my wonderful wife of 40 yrs and our two Labrador Retrievers, Doc and Hedge, I am honored to be part of the ASB Southwest Florida Team.