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Monday, May 3, 2010

Physics and Poetry: An Educated Future Leader Dog

We sat in a small room at Kettering University trying to follow a lecture on Biophysics and Nanomaterials during the Spring 2010 Meeting of the American Physical Society.  Not your average Saturday morning fare. Being so far out of my element made me feel like I was a character in a cartoon; I could almost see a thought-balloon hover above FLD Mike's head as he sat calmly beside me--"What is he talking about?"  I hoped the presenter didn't see the question mark in my own thought-balloon!

My husband Andy, his oldest daughter Jen, and I (and FLD Mike) woke up before dawn Saturday to drive the 70 miles to Flint to watch his younger daughter, Mandy, make a 12-minute presentation about the biogas project with which she's been involved.  (You can read more about this grant-funded partnership between Kettering, Flint, and Swedish Biogas International here.

Our thought-balloons burst when Mandy started speaking--she did a remarkable deciphering of the scientific jargon so those of us without a bio-chemistry degree could understand.  Afterwards, she graciously gave us a tour of the Kettering Lab (where we think she's been living for months now).

FLD Mike has had plenty of school experience, both at the university level and in elementary schools.  He attended fall and winter Literature classes with me at Easter Michigan University (sometimes snoring during lectures).
In March, FLD Mike met up with his host mom's family and his sister Claire when we made a presentation at Cranbrook's Brookside School.

Last month we met our puppy counselor, Nance, and her FLD Sunny at the Harwood Elementary School in Sterling Heights to answer questions about Leader Dogs to a group of second graders.  These kids had awesome questions. 

Do you know what kinds of dogs Leader Dogs for the Blind uses?  (Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, occasionally Standard Poodles, and sometimes even mixes of these breeds.)  Did you know that vision-impaired people who qualify to get a Leader Dog don't have to pay anything for them?  Not even  for the cost of transportation to and from the Leader Dog School!  (To learn more about the Leader Dog program, check out the FAQ page on the Leader Dogs for the Blind website.)

I hope that this academic exposure will serve FLD Mike well when he returns to the Leader Dogs for the Blind School next September for his formal training.

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