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Friday, July 23, 2010

Another Letter to FLD Mike's Future Handler

Dear future handler:

As I write this, it is about 24 hours until over 650 puppy-raisers and their friends and families gather at Leader Dogs for the Blind for their 23rd Annual Puppy and Breeding Stock Day.  This will be my first time attending.  I am bringing FLD (Future Leader Dog) Mike along for the fun.  (And my sister Anne, and two of her three girls.)  We are eager to meet up with the raisers of Mike's siblings and the host family of his mother, Reece.

That's Julia doing the backover!
I must tell you about Julia, the young girl who lives with Reece and who is responsible for keeping the raisers of Reece's litter in contact with her and each other.  Julia is a very smart and engaging 11 year old who loves gymnastics and diving (and puppies!).  Julia and her mother made each of us raisers a photo album of our puppies, with blank pages to add our own pictures.  This was no small feat--Mike has one brother and nine sisters!

I hope to complete my album and someday hand it off to you.

FLD Mike and Julia
FLD Mike is now 10 months old; in just about two months I will return him to Leader Dogs for the next step in his training.  As I reflect on how difficult it will be to let go of the puppy I've raised for so many months, I remember Julia.  She and her family gave FLD Mike a loving start and with grieving hearts passed him along to me to build on that foundation.  

Yet I am just another chapter in his journey to you.

Julia and I share the same goal--that our care and efforts will result in a confident, capable Leader Dog that will go on to enhance a stranger's life.  An unexpected thing has happened to my own life along the way.

I feel like I am part of a train-rolling force driving forward, and whenever I need a hand, I find friends along the way.  Leader Dog staff and volunteers, Julia (a force of her own), fellow puppy-raisers, puppy-counselors, my husband Andy, my sister Anne, and her three girls (Elaina, Sofia, and Natalie), friends and family members who patiently listen to my never-ending-dog-stories, strangers I meet because of my puppy, and the puppies themselves, who are so eager to please.  What an amazing network joined together, having fun along the way, just to offer a hand to another stranger.

Powerful.

Thank you for the opportunity,

patti

FLD Mike gazing into his future.

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