Feedback is always let me know whatchya' think. Leave a comment!

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.


  1. What a great opportunity! I know a few people who have had prison raised dogs from various organizations including LDB. Thanks for sharing, Patti!

    1. L^2, you are welcome! Thanks for hosting the ADBC and for reading my post.

  2. What an interesting way to raise puppies. I'd heard about this before but didn't really know how it works. Thanks.

    1. It IS very interesting, and for lots of reasons. It certainly is a win-win all around! Thanks for stopping by!