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Monday, July 25, 2011

Leader Dogs for the Blind: Puppy Days 2011

Every July, Leader Dogs for the Blind shows their appreciation to volunteer puppy-raisers, puppy-counselors, and breed host families by hosting an event that used to be called "Puppy Days."  This year Leader Dogs changed the name to "Leader Dog University" (LDU) to reflect their ongoing process-improvements.

We met, we ate, we learned things.

Raisers met their puppies' mom, dad, and siblings, toured the Leader Dogs for the Blind facilities, watched puppies waiting for pickup play in Puppy Land, attended mini-seminars, had their puppies paint a "paw-print," and observed Leader Dog trainers work with clients in downtown Rochester.

Fun, interesting, and inspiring, too!  The keynote speaker, Ken Ramirez from Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, gave a presentation about how the laws of learning apply to animal training.  (Visit his website at:

This year, I was dog-less.

Dog-less amongst several hundred other puppy-raisers, most of whom had Future Leader Dog puppies (of all ages) with them.

I felt like I was on the Au Sable River in a speedboat instead of in a canoe.

Oh, I had plenty of reasons not to bring FLD Gus with me to this year's fun at Leader Dogs.
  • It had been a horrendously HOT week, even for up north, and Gus had a hard time keeping cool.  I filled a kiddie-pool with our icy spring-like well water.  I took him to Grousehaven Lake to swim, even though the water was more tepid than a Miami swimming pool.  I set up a fan next to his crate at night.  He left bits of the ice cubes I gave him all over the house to melt.  I knew it would be hot during LDU and I didn't want to expose Gus to more heat.
  • It had been a horrendously HOT week and MY patience was wearing thin.  The air-conditioning guy came the day I left for the city.  At least Gus would stay cool at home with Andy.
  • I had a lot of errands to run for the two days I was in the city; FLD Gus at my side would definitely slow me down.
  • Leader Dogs for the Blind recently asked me to expand my volunteer activity into the role of puppy-counselor.  All puppy-raisers must be seen by their puppy-counselor every month.  The more than 45 raisers who live further than 90 minutes away from any puppy-counselor are termed "independent" puppy-raisers.  Heretofore, these independent raisers had been assisted by independent puppy-counselor Tammy via email or telephone.  Now Tammy has help.  I will be the puppy-counselor for independent raisers on the East Coast of the US; Tammy will continue with the Mid-west,  and Bev, also a new counselor, will handle the West Coast.  I planned to pick Tammy's brain during LDU--not having FLD Gus along meant I would not be distracted.
I even rationalized that it was good for FLD Gus to spend a couple of days without me.  (More about this in tomorrow's "TIP.")

Still, it felt weird.  Even when I wasn't on the Leader Dog campus during LDU, visiting family instead, I heard, "I can't get used to seeing you without a dog."

Anyway, my trip to the city went smoothly.  I got all my errands done, and enjoyed more than my share of puppy-breath fixes during LDU.

FLD Gus stayed cool.

I just wonder if Tammy has any brains left!


Two Goldens and one black Lab find a way to beat the heat--a pile of ice!

One young Golden puppy isn't too sure about being sniffed by another young yellow Lab puppy while waiting in the lunch line with their raisers.

Two yellow Lab puppies at play in Puppy Land.

A very tired FLD Kimber snoozing during the activities.

Bob and Mary (on the right) were sorry I didn't bring FLD Gus--they are the host family with Sienna, Gus's mom.  But they were happy to run into fellow puppy-raiser Cheri and her puppy, FLD Ava, Gus's sister!  (Cheri also raised LD Mike's sister, Nora!)  Ava is very petite, unlike my brute, Gus.


  1. Oooooooooo!!!! So many puppies! I am soooooo jealous! I have not had a fix of "puppy breath" in a very long time. What a neat day.
    And Congratulations on your new position! See? I told you you were good! ;)