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Tuesday, October 21, 2014


To break the time up during a long drive to Baraga in the U.P., FLD Henry and I stop at the Cut River Bridge. It turned out to be a good opportunity to practice stairs.

A shot from the top of a long staircase going down through the woods to the edge of Lake Michigan. The stairs have wooden railings and landings, but the steps are open metal grates. There are two tree trunks on the left side, trees on both sides, in the distance beyond the stairs the trees are bright yellow, and one has lost it's leaves. The blue water is just visible beyond the trees.
A LONG staircase down to Lake Michigan. While the landings are wood, the stairs are open metal grates.

This shot is looking back up the wooden staircase. A small yellow lab/golden mix puppy is standing at the top of a flight looking at the camera. His leash is tied onto the railing.
FLD Henry hasn't seen stairs like these!

Taken from above looking straight down on the puppy walking down the grated stairs. The puppy has his front paws on one step and his back paws on the step behind him. He is looking up at the camera. His brown leash is loose.
"I got this!"

A scenic shot of a small rushing river with a leaf-covered trail on the right side. Colorful trees line the far side of the river and trees already bear lean over from the right. In the distance with a blue sky behind it, is the green trusses of the Cut River Bridge, high above the river.
The river-view of the Cut River Bridge.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Playmates for Henry

Two sets of dog guests took the puppy-heat off Gus recently.

A cute-as-a-button yellow lab/golden puppy is sitting on a fall-colored rug, looking at the camera. He is leaning slightly to the left. He has a silver round tag on his collar with "Leader Dog 10813" on it.
FLD Henry thinks, "What? Four-legged guests?"

First, retired Leader Dog "mom" Amber and cc'd Autumn came to visit. They stayed for more than a week.

Three dogs sit and one dog is lying on her back on a wood floor. On the far left is a black lab, looking at the camera, he is sittingon a blue and brown striped rug. Next is a chocolate lab, exposing her belly, then a small golden/yellow lab puppy sitting just in front of a yellow lab. All are looking at the camera.
All pups sat when asked, except "melted chocolate" Amber. From left to right is cc'd Gus, retired mom Amber, FLD Henry and his bestest playmate, cc'd Autumn.

One weekend, two German Shorthaired Pointers came to play. Oh, and to chase chipmunks around the woodshed.

Five large dogs mill about on a light wood floor. The two on the left are brown and white German Shorthaired Pointers, in the middle is a black lab, on the right is a chocolate lab and in the background in the middle is a yellow lab. In the background someone is standing with blue jeans on, only his legs are visible. Another man is sitting on a black desk chair at a wood desk, wearing blue jeans and a yellow shirt, but is visible only from the waist down.
Odo and Gauge mingle with Gus, Autumn and Amber. FLD Henry is not in the mix. Yet.

Now the group of dogs are starting to play. In the foreground is the yellow lab. Behind her is the black lab and one of the german shorthairs - they are engaging each other with their mouths. In the background on the left is the older german shorthair, he seems to be sniffing the butt of the black lab. Off to the right is the chocolate lab, she is looking at the group with her mouth open. Behind the group of dogs you can just barely see the small head of a short yellow golden/lab mix puppy.
The play begins. Can you spot FLD Henry in the background peering at the action?

It is interesting how the dogs sorted themselves out. Gus and Odo paired up. Momma Amber sometimes acted as the fun police and barreled her body between pairs to break things up. Old-man Gauge, who doesn't play as much as he used to, found Autumn to be a sweet young thing.

A close shot of the heads of two dogs playing. The dog on the left is an older german shorthair pointer, his muzzle is gray, the dog on the right is a yellow lab. Both of them have their mouths wide open and they are facing each other. The lab is showing her large white teeth.
Gauge and Autumn hit it off. Dog-play can seem scary.

The group of dogs are now sitting or standing at "attention," looking to the right up at someone standing just out of view (you can see blue jeans and socked feet. The person is dispensing treats. In front is the yellow lab, sitting, next is a german shorthair, standing but about to sit, next is the black lab standing, the other german shorthair is sitting, the little yellow golden/lab puppy is the only one looking at the floor. Of course, there is a very small bit of kibble on the floor by the person's feet, which no one is paying attention to, except the puppy. On the right is the chocolate lab, standing with her muzzle up about to receive a treat.
But all is well as the pups are called out of play. FLD Henry is the only one who notices the dropped piece of kibble.

FLD Henry was not too shy, and eventually got into the fray. Autumn seemed to be his favorite playmate, she adjusted her play with the little guy. Gus will miss her when she goes home!

A small yellow golden/lab mix puppy sits with his hind legs splayed out in front of a pine door on beige carpet. He is looking at the camera. There is a lamp shade partly in view on the far left side, and the back of a chair with a blue blanket on it on the far right side.
FLD Henry waits at the bedroom door. Gotta love a puppy that asks to go to bed in the evening!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Gandhi Gus

black lab melts on mat
yellow puppy snuggles up
baby teeth on snout

A low, close up shot of two dogs lying down next to each other. The one on the left is an adult black lab. His chin is resting on a mat on a wood floor and he is looking at the camera with his eyes slightly closed, as if "put out." The puppy on the right is a smaller yellow golden retriever/lab mix. He is lying down agains tthe black lab with his head up looking at the camera with his front paws stretched out in front of him. The background is blurry.
As soon as I grabbed my camera, FLD Henry snapped his head away from Gus as if to say, "What? I wasn't doing anything!"  Gus just rolls his eyes.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

1st day of school

Hanging out at the Rose City Elementary School on the first morning after Labor Day is a fun way to give FLD Henry some "kid" exposure. Many of the kids remember me from when I brought FLDs Scout and Dutch to their classrooms. They are happy to meet my new puppy, and gracious about asking to pet him even when I tell them, Sorry, not today!

Two students ask me to take their picture with FLD Henry. I happily oblige.

A low, close shot of a small yellow golden retriever/lab mix puppy wearing a blue Future Leader Dog bandana. The puppy is sitting in the grass looking at the camera and it looks like he is winking with his left eye. Behind him to the right is a young boy kneeling on one knee and wearing a backpack. The boy's face is cut off, you can just see his chin and mouth. In the background is a red brick wall and two women standing on the far right looking to the right.
FLD Henry winks at the camera as I take a quick photo of him with a new fifth-grader.

The school changed the bus drop-off to the other end of the parking lot, so FLD Henry and I walk over to see the kids disembark. A teacher standing nearby exclaims to the students, "Oh, look! She's got a new puppy!" The kids are all very good about waving "hi" and enter the school without engaging Henry.

One of the bus drivers steps down and spots us. "Oh puppy!" she squeals as she approaches, bending over as if she is going to scoop Henry up in her arms. Henry, I say. The little guy whips his head to me. With a quick YES I mark his attentive behavior. As I reach down to give it to him I ask the woman not to pet him.

She admonishes, "I've raised 12 of them, I know what's what!" She continues to coo at Henry from a foot or so away, leaning over with her hands on her knees. If she knows "what's what" I wonder why she is still carrying on.

Henry forgets about me and gets up from his sit. I call his name again but his leash tightens as he strains to greet her. I wait. He sits back down and looks back at me. YES I say again. He gets another treat. Now he's mine again.

"He is really focused on you," the woman says. "That's very good!"
A small yellow golden retriever/lab mix puppy is sitting down in front of a large yellow school bus. His leash is attached to the bus's mirror strut. The puppy is looking at the camera and wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandana. He is sitting lite a puppy with his back legs all askew.
With the distracting bus driver gone, FLD Henry sits nicely for a photo.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Gus's mat

This is where I'd rather find Henry hanging out next to Gus.

Couch. Not.

A large black lab is lying half on a carpeted floor and half on a carpet mat, facing the camera. Lying in front of the lab is a small yellow lab/golden retriever mix puppy, also facing the camera. The yellow puppy is snuggled up against the larger dog.
Uncle Gus tolerates a snuggled from Mr. Henry.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Oh Henry!

Someone has found his voice.

A small yellow golden retriver/labrador mix puppy is standing on the top metal bleacher facing the camera. He is howling with his eyes closed and his mouth open. He is wearing a blue bandana with a white triangle patch with red letters that say "Future Leader Dog" with a black paw print. His leash is secured to a post on the right isde.
FLD Henry croons a tune during Cousino High School's first football game.

Maybe he didn't like sitting on the opposing side of the field.

The small puppy is now sitting on the step of the bleacher with his front paws on the step below. He is looking sideways at the camera with a sassy look in his eyes.
"Shall I sing another?"

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bigfoot owls?

Eleven p.m. The last park of the evening. Gus busts out of the back door and pops into his hey-who's-out-there huff and puff. An owl howls in the north from the dark woods down the hill.

Mr. Henry leaps off the short wooden step and hits the "pea garden" running. He slides under my wooden arbor-seat with a rooster-tail of pea stone, turns and sits. What's that?!

The owl hoots again, this time a bit closer. Gus hops a few feet on stiff front legs and puffs his chest in his best act of protection. He throats a deep bark, yet holds his ground. Henry shrinks further under the seat.

The air feels like fall. I am glad for my hoodie, figuring I'm going to have to wait Henry out before he feels safe enough to park. I don't mind lingering. I look up. The past-new-moon sky is brilliant; after a few days of rain it is nice to be in awe of the Milky Way again.

The owl continues with a long, drawn out whoooo-who-hoot-whoooo! It seems even nearer. Gus woofs louder and my imagination goes wild. Is something rustling there in the brush? Why does an image of Bigfoot pop into my head?

Henry darts out beyond the pea garden onto the grass, pees and heads for the door. I don't mind that he parks on the grass this time.

Let's go inside!  Gus whips around and beats us in.

I doubt that Henry totally emptied his bladder. He wakes me with a whimper at 4 a.m. When I take him out the sky is clouded over and all is still. He uses the pea garden this time.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Lucky me

First night
     last park: 11 pm
     first, second and third park: 2 am, 4:30 am, 6 am

Second night
     last park: 11 pm
     first and second park: 4 am, 6:30 am

Last night
     last park: 11pm
     first park: 6:30 am!

Good boy Henry!

A floor level shot of a small yellow puppy laying on his right side on a pine laminate floor, his right paw stretched out toward the camera. He is fast asleep and the morning light through the window above is shining through his fur.. His eyebrow hairs shine bright against a blue puppy bed behind him.
A sleepy FLD Henry.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A tear -dryer, not only for me

I carry FLD Henry from the car across the park to meet Tammy. She is sitting in the pavilion waiting for us. I set the sleepy pup down some 20 feet away and wait for him to "park."

A short, round man strolling with a rounder old dog along a perimeter fence line spots Henry. "A baby!" he exclaims and picks up his pace to a slow walk. I hadn't even had Henry for two hours and already he is attracting attention. I shouldn't be surprised. Henry is an adorable puppy.

A small yellow lab/golden cross puppy is in mid-shake. He is standing, facing the camera with his eyes closed and his ears all floppy and the tag on his collar is flying up. The background is blurry, you can almost make out a parking lot and a white car.
FLD Henry shakes off.

Henry pees before the man reaches us. (Yay!) I snap him up into my arms. The man is disappointed that I don't let him meet his dog.

"He hasn't had all his shots, yet," I say. The man's dog, some kind of beagle mix, is overweight, has cloudy eyes and a myriad of gnarly red tumors sprouting from her snout, ears, paws and just about everywhere. 

"She's on her last leg," the man says. "And so am I." He lifts his shirt slightly to show us a black bag and holster belted around his waist. "This is my mechanical heart. I'm getting a transplant and I won't be able to get another puppy. It's a bad time for me."

I step forward. "You can pet him," I say. The man asks, "Can I hold him?" I hand over Henry, who snuggles into his neck as the man buries his face against his fur. The man takes a deep breath. "Puppies always smell so good!" he sighs.

"This is Henry," I say. "Henry!" the man exclaims. "Sadie, where's Henry?" Sadie has curled up a few feet away, glad for the break. I'm worried the man will bring Henry down to greet her. 

"My Sadie has a favorite stuffed toy named Henry," the man explains. Sadie isn't interested, she seems content to rest. I reach to retrieve my puppy. Instead, the man slips the handle of Sadie's retractable leash into my hand and begs me to let him hold Henry for just a little longer. The man eases himself onto the picnic table bench and begins to quietly cry into Henry's shoulder.

Henry quietly accommodates him.

A close floor-level shot of a small yellow lab/golden mix puppy lying on the cement. The puppy's chin is resting on the cement and his eyes are sleepy. His ears are touching the cement.
FLD Henry takes a nap under our picnic table. It's hard work lending a shoulder to cry on!

Friday, July 25, 2014


It is never easy. But there comes a time when we are called to make that hard decision and give our pets a gift of peace. This week it was time for my Gypsy. At 14, my anxious mutt had too much pain.

We let her go.

A black and white photo of a medium sized old dog with a brindle coat, lying in the grass. The dog is facing the camer with her eyes closes and her ears flopped back.
My old Gypsy-doodle enjoys a bit of sun.

Over the last several years, Gypsy kept a string of Future Leader Dog (FLD) puppies in line (and off the furniture). She helped raise Rosie, Mike, Gus, Scout and Dutch. She also kept some part-timers in line. FLDs Bear and Bandit spent time here before heading off to prison. She puppy-sitted FLDs Baker and Grant this past year. 

The old girl will be missed. There is one thing, however, that works wonders in drying tears. 

Introducing - FLD Henry!

A ground level shot of a small yellow lab/golden retriever puppy standing in front of a black german shepherd dog stature. The puppy's leash is looped around the statue's leg. The boy puppy is facing the camera and he is wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandana. His head is slightly up.
FLD Henry looking proud by the statue in front of the kennel lobby at Leader Dogs for the Blind.

After we returned Dutch to Leader Dogs last fall I decided to wait to see how Gypsy fared before bringing yet another puppy into our home. Some family commitments made my choice an easy one.

But now I was able to say "yes" when Leader Dogs called about a puppy.

FLD Henry (named by my hubby after Henry Blake in MASH) is a Golden Retriever/Labrador mix. His Golden Retriever mother, Emma, is Dutch's sister; his father is my puppy counselor Tammy's breed stock yellow lab, Wally.

Here we go again!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Puppy Update: "Pennsylvania" Dutch!

This time, I had a spy on the inside. Unintentionally, of course. Far be it from me to work around the rules. (April Fools!)

Sometime after I received the email from Leader Dogs for the Blind letting me know that the puppy I raised was issued to a blind or visually impaired client, a Facebook message popped up in my browser. It was from someone I know who was attending a two-week "brush-up" with her Leader Dog at the same time that Dutch was in class with his new person.

This person was very discreet. I learned nothing about Dutch's person, except perhaps that the person was English-speaking. My insider said that when Dutch was being his usual friendly self with the Leader Dogs bus driver, his person had said, "Dutch, you're not driving! Sit. Good boy."

A woman wearing sunglasses, pink pants and a light blue top is standing and looking down at a golden retriever who is sitting to the right looking up at her. The woman is holding a leash in her left hand that is attached to the dog's collar. There is a bright blue line painted along the white brick wall behind them that helps the visually impaired navigate. There is also a framed picture on the wall above the dog.
LD Dutch

Sometime later, an email arrived with a jpeg attachment. Now I knew more. In the photo Dutch was sitting and looking intently up at his person.

Still, even knowing this much, waiting in the lobby of the Polk Residence at Leader Dogs on visitation night with a crowd of other puppy-raisers was still nerve wracking. What would Dutch do when he saw me? I had to not react and just ignore him. How would his person treat him? What would this stranger think of me?

The first team was announced. I can't even remember the name of the dog that was brought down the hall with its person. The trainer who walked with the team repeated the dog's name, looking for the puppy raiser to identify him or herself. Someone from across the lobby by the elevator said, "Here!" The team found the raiser. I strained to see; the dog was wearing a harness! (At past visitations the dogs were on leash and not in harness.)

"Here's Dutch!"

I quickly forgot about the group that was now working their way through the crowd and into the conference room to chat. "Where are you?" the second trainer beckoned. I raced over to where I could see down the hallway.

Two women are walking arm in arm toward the camera. The woman on the left is a Leader Dog trainer, she is wearing blue jeans and a grey zippered hoody and a blue t-shirt under it. Her ID tag is pinned to the hem of the sweatshirt. She has longish blond hair and she is smiling. The woman on the right has her right hand in the crook of the other woman's elbow. She is wearing black slacks and a grey longsleeved top. She is wearing sunglasses and has longish brown hair. She is holding a leash in her left hand that is attached to a golden retriever on her left side. The golden has a Leader Dog harness on with a yellow sign that says please don't pet me I'm working. The women and dog are just on a carpeted floor, behind them is a long hallway with tile floor.
A Leader Dog trainer escorts LD Dutch and his person.

It was Dutch, walking on a leash on the left side of a woman wearing sunglasses. Her right hand was holding the left arm of the trainer. Dutch wore a harness like the first dog.

"Here," I called.

The trainer introduced me to Gail, who couldn't wait to ask, "How did Dutch get his name?" I blubbered that my husband named him. "Do you like it?" I asked. I searched the crowd for Andy. He and my niece Elaina were still back by the door. I motioned him to come so he could explain how he came up with Dutch's name.

"I'm from Pennsylvania," Gail said. "It's perfect!"

Poor Gail struggled with Dutch as he strained to sniff my legs. "When he heard your voice he really pulled," she said.

The woman with black pants and a grey top with the golden retriever is facing away from the camera on the left side. She is slightly bent over holding the leash. The dog is pulling to the right toward a couple that are looking down at the dog. The man in the middle is wearing glasse and a green zipped sweatshirt and blue jeans. The woman on the right has short brown hair and is wearing a purple hoody and blue jeans. She is holding a camera cradled in her left arm.
LD Dutch checks me out.

When Gail encouraged me to say hello, I knelt down to greet him. I am a little embarrassed to say that the golden boy went berserk. "I just don't want him to hurt you," Gail said as she admonished Dutch for his enthusiasm. "It's okay, I've got his collar," I said, grappling to keep the fur ball's four feet on the floor.

Eventually Gail and Dutch, Andy and I and Elaina made it into the conference room. Mr. Dutch was just as I remembered him. From the way he was so exuberant, I'd guess that I was just as he remembered me, too.

The man in the green sweatshirt is sitting on a chair on the left side, reaching to pet the golden retriever. The golden is lying on his side on the carpet, rolling over. Next to the man is a teenage girl with glasses and a varsity jacket and blue jeans. She is sitting in a chair looking down at the dog at her feet. On the right side is the woman with sunglasses wearing a grey shirt and black slacks. She is holding the dog's leash in her hands.
LD Dutch dips his shoulder to the floor, butt raised. When Andy leans in to pet him he rolls over to expose his belly. My niece Elaina looks on while Gail listens to Andy. He explains how Dutch got his name. "I always pick names that remind me of a good friend," he said. "We've had a Rosie, Mike, Gus, Scout, and Dutch."

In this photo,  only the teenager (on the left) and the woman with sunglasses are in view. The teen has her legs crossed, sitting in the chair. The woman is reaching into her shirt pocket with her right hand while holding the dog's leash with her left. The golden is sitting in front of her facing her, almost at attention. The dog has a guide harness on.
LD Dutch knows who has the treats.

The woman with sunglasses is sitting in the chair facing the camera. She has the dog's leash in her left hand, she is petting the dog's head with her right hand.The dog is now lying on the floor on the woman's right side facing the camera. The dog looks like he is smiling, his tongue is hanging out.
While we talked, Gail's hand seldom strayed away from Dutch.

A close shot of the golden retriever lying on the carpeted floor. His head is toward the camera and he is busy chewing a Nylabone, which he is holding between his front paws. His leash is held by the woman's hand, she is out of view except for her right leg and foot just touching the dog's side. You can read the yellow sign on the handle of the harness. It says "Do not pet me I am working."
The Nylabone I brought for Dutch helped him settle while we visited with Gail.

This is a group shot of the teenager (far left, standing), the man (middle, standing), the short woman (far right, standing), the woman with the sunglasses (sitting in a chair in front of the other three) and the golden retriever lying on the floor to the right of the sitting woman. Everyone, even the dog is smiling.
We are thrilled to meet Gail and see Dutch again. My niece Elaina was excited to join us this time. Her sisters Natalie and Sofia each got to meet the handlers of my other puppies that became working Leader Dogs - LD Scout and LD Mike. Gail promises to drop me a line now and then.

Our short hour ticked away and it was time to say good-bye. Again. Gail took hold of the harness and told Dutch, "Find the door." Dutch was all business as he led her straight away.

Other handlers took the arms of trainers to be escorted back to their rooms. Not Gail. She gave Dutch a command which I could not hear and off they went with no hesitation. As we watched them go, Dutch suddenly looked back. Gail said, "Leave it." He turned back around and did his job, tail wagging.

Looking down the same hallway (carpeted floor then tile floor). Two women in the distance are walking away with a black lab on a loose leash on the left side of the woman on the left. In the foreground is the woman with sunglasses walking away in the same direction. She is holding the harness that is on the golden retriever and the two walk as one.
LD Dutch and his handler Gail walk away as one.

Dutch will live in the country with Gail and her husband along with 24 chickens, a 10-year-old dog, and two cats. Dutch sent postcards from Leader Dogs to Gail's six grandchildren, who are very anxious to meet him.

Gail told us of a park she enjoys walking to, but said she has never made it there safely using her cane. She either runs into things or falls. Gail said she is excited to have LD Dutch guide her the 2.5 miles to the park when she gets home.

LD Dutch is Gail's first guide dog!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Puppy Update!

Dutch is now an official LEADER DOG!

*****happy dance*****

Here is the email I received from Leader Dogs for the Blind:

Dear Puppy Raiser:

The puppy you raised has been issued to a student in the current class.  This is no guarantee of graduation however, it is another step in the training phase and hopefully if all goes along as planned we will soon be able to let you know of the puppy's graduation.  We are happy to offer you a chance to visit with the student in the Polk Residence Facility.  Please meet in the lobby of the Polk Residence Facility at 6:30pm on March 29, 2014.  This will be for you and your family only.  You MUST RSVP by 3/26/14 if you are attending so we can make sure the student has every opportunity to attend also.  It is their choice though and they may choose not to attend.  If that is the case, we will make every attempt to contact you.  If for any reason you would rather not meet the student or cannot make the class, rest assured we understand (but please respond)

It is very important that this be a positive experience for both our students and you, our puppy raisers who have given so much of your time, effort and love.  Keeping that in mind we are sending you some basic guidelines to follow.

1.         We ask that you not take flash photos until you have checked with the student or us.  Some eye conditions are negatively affected by sudden flashes of light and in extreme cases may even contribute to a seizure.

2.         We know the dog has spent a year in your home however it is now "their" dog and we ask you to respect that.  Do not take the dog out of their possession.

3.         You may bring gifts of photographs, letters, and appropriate toys.  The guidelines for toys are the same ones we use when raising the puppies.  Please make sure that the toys are large enough not to cause a potential hazard. Please do not bring any “edible” bones as they may cause stomach upset in the dog.

4.         The students will come into the conference center and have a chance to settle their dogs.   They will introduce themselves to the group.  After they are all finished you will have the opportunity to meet them individually.

5.         We expect the dogs to be VERY excited to see you again and have tried to prepare the student for the dog's reaction.  Once the initial greeting is over, the student will be giving the dog instructions to assist the dog in settling down and will expect the dog lay quietly during the latter part of your visit.

6.         We ask that if you are currently raising another puppy that you not bring it with you to the Polk Residence.

7.       We ask that you be careful with what information you share about the puppy.  While you know your puppy has grown in stages into a wonderful adult,  Comments like "I can't believe he made it through training", and "he chewed on things when he was younger" are comments that will cause the student who is still bonding with this new dog to have questions about whether this is the right dog for them and ultimately cause them to ask for a new dog.

8.         While we realize you are emotionally investing into the puppy that you raised, please keep in mind that you are here to meet the team of both student and dog.  Questions about where they will work together, how are you enjoying your stay at Leader Dog are appropriate questions to ask.

We again thank you for your wonderful gift of time and love you have given to this special puppy.  We look forward to seeing you at visitation.
                                                            Sincerely, Puppy Development

A small golden retriever puppy is sitting on a snowy sidewalk looking at the camera. He is wearing a blue bandana with a white triangle with red letters that say Future Leader Dog and has a black paw print. A leash is hanging from is collar.
A very young Future Leader Dog. Very proud of you Dutch!

(For more on this story, visit

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Puppy update - Dutch is in Phase IV!

I received this email yesterday from Leader Dogs for the Blind.

Dear Puppy Raiser,

The dog you raised Dutch, D-14157, has been in training for 13 weeks and has completed the third of four phases of training.  The instructor working with Dutch has made the following comments:
Some of the things that Dutch is doing well at are:
1.       Obstacle avoidance

2.       Straight line travel

Some of the things that the instructor is working on with Dutch are:
1.       Obedience

2.       Positioning next to the trainer

3.       Turns

This update lets you know how Dutch is doing at this point in training.  Thank you for raising Dutch for our program!  Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Puppy Development.  You will receive another update once this special dog completes training and is placed with a client.  The journey is almost complete!

Puppy Development
Leader Dogs for the Blind

Way to go Dutch! Our paws are still crossed for you!

A golden retriever is sitting on a landing at the top of a flight of woodedn stairs. He is looking up at the camera and he is wearing a blue vest. The stairs have yellow strips on the risers and there are wooden guard rails on each side.
FLD Dutch is ALMOST to the top!

Friday, February 14, 2014

One year ago today...

...FLD Dutch and I made a presentation to the Rose City Brownies. Now Dutch is at Leader Dogs for the Blind in training to become a working Leader Dog. We're keeping our paws crossed for him!

A golden retriever is lying on a grey rug in a classroom next to a woman dressed in a blue shirt and blue jeans. She is sitting on the floor next to him. 12 young girls are posing behind them. They are all Brownies.
FLD Dutch is a fine Valentine for these Brownies!


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Thanks to puppies...

This post is my submission for the 14th Assistance Dog Blog Carnival (ADBC), hosted by L-Squared on her website: The theme this go-round is OPPORTUNITY.

This photo is a logo for the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival. There is a light purple background with the darker purple siloquette of a dog facing to the left. The words Assistance Dog are above the dog, and Blog Carnival are below it.
Hi. My name is patti. I am a puppy-raising addict.

Because of my addiction, I spend two days a month in prison.

I can explain...

Back in 2002, Leader Dogs for the Blind started a ground breaking puppy-raising program in the Iowa prison system - with one puppy. After several years and even more puppies, it was evident that the puppies coming out of the prison system had a higher graduation percentage (65-70+%) than puppies raised on the outside (40-45%). 

Simultaneously, the recidivism rate of puppy-raising inmates (13-15%) ran well below the national average (50%). Soon, other prisons joined the program - two more facilities in Iowa, one in Wisconsin, and most recently one in Minnesota and two in Michigan (plus one more on the docket).

After 11 years, over 300 Future Leader Dog puppies have been raised in the prison system. To top things off, Leader Dogs for the Blind has received the 2013 Mutual of America Community Partnership Award. (Visit the following link to watch a video about the program: Inside to Outside Initiative - Prison Puppy Raising Program.)

A serendipitous series of events in 2013 led to the puppy-raising program being replicated in Leader Dogs for the Blind's home state of Michigan.

Three years ago my puppy-counselor Tammy asked me to help her with puppy outings in the eastern U.P. A handful of her puppy-raisers were spread out around the area and in the Canadian Soo.

Once a month Tammy and I would drive north. Typically we'd meet for dinner with the raisers and their pups and then gather at a school or park for a training session. Sometimes we did other things, like attend a hockey game at Lake Superior State University, or represent Leader Dogs at the Snowsfest in Lex Cheneaux. 
On a side note, these trips were another step in my growing addiction. I ended up a puppy counselor myself; I assist distance raisers that live from Maine to Florida.
Paula and Dave, a couple from the U.P. group, raised a golden retriever puppy they named Alphie. He ended up being pulled for breeding and eventually sired my FLD Dutch. Paula kept taps on Dutch through this blog. She read about the Iowa prison puppy-raising program and as they say, the rest is history. Catch up on that story by visiting my other blog puppies inside.

So now our monthly northern trips include visits to the Chippewa Correctional Facility in Kincheloe in the eastern U.P. and the Baraga Correctional Facility in Baraga, a half-day's drive to the western side of the U.P.


Leader Dogs for the Blind gets puppies that are well prepared for formal guide dog training. These days some clients even ask for a prison-raised puppy.

Inmate raisers get a chance to give something back to society. They learn empathy and gain hope. And when they give their grown puppies back to Leader Dogs, they learn something about loss and what they took away from the victims of their crimes.

Prison officials get calmer units with less fighting. They get respectful relationships between inmates and guards. And they get inmates that have a better chance of staying out, once they get out.

And I get a monthly puppy fix, working with the inmate raisers and their pups. Oftentimes I get to spring a pup for dinner "furlough." And just after Christmas (2013) my home was a half-way house for FLD Bear, a seven-week-old black Lab that was destined for the Baraga Correctional Facility. (See posts about FLD Bear here: puppiesinside - FLD Bear.)

A woman with short brown hair and glasses, wearing a brown hooded sweatshirt and blue vest, is holding a small black lab puppy in her hands. The puppy is licking her right cheek and she is squinting and smiling.
Getting a puppy-fix with FLD Bear.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Puppy Update! Dutch heads for Phase II

Dutch's 5th week update arrived at last, if a bit over-due...
The dog you raised, D#14157  Dutch, has been in training for over 5 weeks and has completed the first phase of training.  The instructor working with Dutch has made the following comments about the puppy you raised:
Some of the things that Dutch is doing well at are:
1. stairs
2. proper behavior on the training truck
3. name recognition
Some of the things that the trainer is working on with Dutch are:
1. obedience
2. elevator work
3. getting accustomed to the harness
This update lets you know how Dutch is doing at this point in training.  Thank you for raising Dutch  for our program!  Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Puppy Development.  You will also receive another update during the 13th week after Dutch has completed their 12th week of training.
Puppy Development
Leader Dogs for the Blind


No photos with this report. But here are two of Dutch taken one year apart...

A ground-level photo of a small and fuzzy golden retriver puppy. He has his nose in the snow facing the camera. In the background, out of focus, is our wood shed filled with wood.
FLD Dutch snuffs his nose into an early snowfall, November, 2012.

The same golden retriever, taken one year later so he is now grown. He is facing the camera with his nose to the ground. There is just a dusting of snow. Behind to the right, out of focus, is a leave-less tree.
FLD Dutch, one year later, still trying to snuff up a dusting of snow!