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Friday, September 28, 2012



Just received this email from Leader Dogs for the Blind:


I hope you are enjoying our autumn weather. I would like to update you on Scout is doing here, she has passed her entry physical, her hips are both good and elbows normal. They spayed her on the 26th and she is recovering nicely from the surgery. Our volunteers have commented that she is a very nice girl, she really likes to please people. Soon she will be back to playing with the four other dogs that she was playing with before the surgery. She is still due to start her phase one training on October 8th. You should be proud of her.

Thank you for all you have done in preparing Scout for this next stage in her life.

Lynette Brink
Kennel Administrative Assistant

(Guess my post from yesterday worked!)

I took the following picture of Scout on September 3, 2012, hanging out near our garden. I thought I remembered taking a similar shot of her one year ago...

FLD Scout, maturely resting near the garden.

...but once I found it, I realized the pose was a just little different. 

FLD Scout, getting crazy near the garden in 2011.

You've come a long way, puppy!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

No news...

FLD Scout and I pose together on the day of her return.

After leaving FLD Scout at Leader Dogs for the Blind last week I took the long way home. 

The road, somewhere between Rochester Hills and northeastern Michigan.

Well, actually, I rode my recumbent bicycle home.

Here I am, waving good-bye to my folks at the start of my 180 mile, 3-day journey.

The ride was a good way to not think about things. Now, nine days later, no word from Leader Dogs if Scout has passed her physicals.

No news is good news, I guess.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

That day came

The knowledge that one day my puppy must return to Leader Dogs for the Blind parks itself in the back of my head like a migraine that teases but doesn't quite grab hold. I know it is there, it doesn't bother me (much), but it keeps me from moving too quickly.

That good-by-migraine caused me to savor every moment I had this year with FLD Scout.

Ah, to deeply inhale her sweet puppy-breath, even as I headed out to the darkness in the wee morning hours so she could pee.

To delight in her problem-solving skills (How can I get her to stop sitting in front of her computer?), even as I stooped to pick up my shoe from between her front paws, without making eye contact. and returning it to the foyer for the umpteenth time.

To hear her clacking teeth when she Lab-wrestled with Gus, even when I insisted she settle on her mat while Andy and I ate dinner.

To feel the slackness in her leash while she was "working," even though we I struggled with her propensity to dive-bomb anything that looked like food on restaurant floors.

To see her nudge a little boy who was afraid of water, even as we worked through her fear of second-graders.

To taste the bittersweet goodbye, even if what we've been striving for all along has brought us to this next step. And then the long wait for her to become a Leader Dog.

September 18, 2012.
FLD Scout is on her way...

One last tussle with cc'd Rosie, aka "Rosie Dosie." (Rosie, don't you look at me like that! I know you'll miss her, but don't give her any ideas.)

FLD Scout gives Natalie a snuggle...

...and gets a belly-rub from Sofia!

Andy gives Scout a pet in the kennel lobby at Leader Dogs for the Blind. She looks like she's wondering what all the fuss is about!
FLD Scout looks over her shoulder at me. "It's okay, I've been here before!"

During intake, Scout checks out the box of dog toys. She approaches it from all angles, trying to figure out how to reach the Nylabones inside.
Finally, she takes a leap...
...and emerges with a prized possession! We wondered, was this a problem-solving test?
All that mattered to Scout was her new toy.

Scout looks ready, yes?

Monday, September 17, 2012


Yesterday, Scout came with me on assignment for the last time. She was a big hit at the Ride for Gold, a Harley ride to benefit the Special Olympics.

FLD Scout sits while the riders get instructions. She got a bit nervous when a little boy in a big, blue motorcycle helmet ran over to pet her. I don't think she liked the giant mohawk that topped his helmet. He didn't really understand, but his mom coaxed him away and all was fine. FLD Scout was not nervous when the H.O.G.s fired up their machines and roared away.

This Special Olympian gets a nice greeting from FLD Scout.

TOMORROW, FLD Scout returns to Leader Dogs for the Blind to begin her formal guide-dog training.


dogspeed, Scout!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

FLD Scout sends a letter

Dear Leader Dogs for the Blind,

My raiser has neglected to send you this dollar bill for many months. I think it’s about time she passed it along, especially since I’ll be coming on campus soon for my “real” education. I want to be sure that you have enough money to buy me food and other stuff like Nylabones. How much food do you think a dollar can buy?

This is what happened when my raiser and I were visiting the city. The city is not at all like where we usually live. In the city there are lots of cars and noisy trucks everywhere, it’s not very dark at night, and it sure smells different. Where are the woods?

Anyway, my raiser and her guy took me with them to one of those places that have really good stuff to smell. I really like sniffing around under the tables and licking the corners while they eat. Sometimes my raiser gives me treats if I lay nice.

If I don’t graduate, do you think I could get a job cleaning floors in restaurants?

So, after teasing me with all those smells, my raiser took me for a walk down a busy road. I didn’t know why we didn’t get back into the van with her guy. It was raining a little bit, but I didn’t mind. I guess my raiser didn’t mind either.

We passed by this scary man in a hooded sweatshirt. He had a big shovel and was scraping it on the sidewalk. I guess he didn’t like the mud that was there. I barked at him once just to let him know he should put his shovel away. Guess what? He dropped it! That worked pretty good. But my raiser made me sit while she talked with him. I forgot all about the shovel.

We crossed the busy street after my raiser made me sit down until the light changed. The rain stopped and it was foggy but we made it safely across. Is this something I’ll be practicing at school? My raiser seemed to think it was very important.

Well, we came up to this great big building and I thought we were going to go inside because my raiser took my jacket off and told me to “park.” But after I parked she put the jacket back on and instead of going inside those crazy doors that slide open, she sat down on a little bench that was by the door and made me settle in front of her. Luckily there wasn’t a puddle there.

So, this guys walks by and my raiser, she says hello to everyone! He nodded and went inside. Then he came right back out and talked to my raiser. He asked her if she was collecting donations. She said no, she was just waiting for someone. But then she must have had second thoughts because she said that she could take a donation if he wanted to give her one.

That’s where this dollar came from! That nice man gave my raiser a dollar for Leader Dogs for the Blind. I’m sure my raiser didn’t mean to keep it for herself. So here it is. I hope you can put it to good use!

Regards, your soon-to-be trainee and FUTURE LEADER DOG Scout

p.s. Here is a picture of me enjoying the country up north!

FLD Scout chews a stick while resting in the Rifle River Recreation Area.

*This letter (with a one dollar bill) is en route to Leader Dogs for the Blind. I hope it reaches them before FLD Scout does when she returns on Tuesday, September 18!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Labrador vultures

The pecking order seems to be changing around here.

At mealtime, the two black dogs squeeze their cute little butts onto a single mat against the wall. FLD Scout doesn't even need to be told. Gus waits for eye contact before he swings into a sit.

The old crabby brown dog wanders around until I insist that yes, she must sit too.

Gypsy is first to be fed. There is some respect for seniority. But lately she is slow to approach her bowl of old-dog food moistened with a bit of water. She seems to want to defer to the younger, bolder Scout.

Gus is released next. OK. He bounds to his bowl across the room like an Olympic 100-meter man and begins to scarf.

Scout crouches in anticipation, one front paw lifted slightly off the floor. When I look at her, she dips her head in preparation. I pause. She settles back.

OK. She's learned to time her landing without body-slamming the wall. Before Gus has a chance to sanitize his stainless steel bowl, Scout inhales her last morsel and twirls. In a flurry of Lab hair, her butt is back on the mat. Gus touches the mat a millisecond later.

The two know that a small encore helping is on the way. Anything to slow the gorging.

A second heat ensues.

By this time, Gypsy is sniffing her kibble, casting a wary glance at the Labrador frenzy beside her. Gus takes a sentry position behind her and Scout tip-toes in from the side. Her eyes are glued to Gypsy's bowl as if she could make the bits levitate to her mouth. It is only then that Gypsy takes a nibble.

I wonder. Is this how a just-struck critter on the side of the road feels when a kettle* of turkey vultures circle overhead waiting for a last breath?

The specter keeps Gypsy focused on eating. She chews daintily, like a proper matron.

Torturing the Labrador vultures.

*A group of turkey vultures circling overhead is called a "kettle."