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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!


  1. I made it into your blog! Haha! The picture of Dutch looking at Gail for a treat, I'm in the background getting a hug from Juan. You can see Madden sitting there. Dutch was adorable!

    1. That's so cool! Things were so exciting I hardly noticed anything else around us. Will Juan keep in touch with you? Is Madden his first LD? Where is he from? (Sorry for so many questions!) Congrats!

    2. I couldn't even tell you who all was in that room! I've actually already received two emails from Juan! Madden is his 3rd LD. His first was retired after 8 years, and his second was cc'd after working for him after 6 months or so. He has kept both of them. So Madden will have some friends! Juan is from Guatemala City. He works for the police department! I will NEVER forget that day. I feel very lucky to have had my first LD puppy come from such a great family, and end up with such a great man.

    3. Oh Tiffany, that is so great. Reece's pups sure are great! And so cool that he's keeping in touch. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I cried a little, I have to say. This reminds me so much of meeting my dog again when he was now officially a seeing eye dog. He still loved me but he knew who his master was and dutifully followed his "leave it" as he walked out of my life. Beautiful!

    1. Thanks GirfRural! Seeing the end result is a beautiful thing for sure. Thanks for reading and sharing your comment.

  3. I wish I had met Nala's raisers.

    1. Oh, I wish you could have too, Jess! I'm sure her raisers would love you!

  4. Congrats, Patti! You did a terrific job and he will be a great partner for Gail. So glad I got to meet him.

  5. Congratulations! So beautiful to read this whole journey - It truly is such a gift on so many levels!

    1. Thanks Becky! It was an amazing experience.

  6. What a lovely post. So glad that you got to meet his new owner. In ireland we don't have the chance to meet our dog's puppywalkers before we finish training, but we are given their details and advised to make contact. The final decision is up to us, but I don't know why anyone wouldn't want to give the raisers a chance to meet their dogs. O.J met his 4 years ago, and I'm hoping to meet them again before he retires.

    1. Jenny! Thanks so much for reading and sharing your experience with OJ. And what a wonderful surprise to see you talk about this post on your own blog ( I am glad that you gave OJ's raisers a chance to meet you and I hope you get to see them again. That is a wonderful gift to give back to them, I can tell you that!