Thursday, January 16, 2014

Honorary member

November 21-23, 2013

All I said was, "Well, that's no good for you two."

Really. That's all I said.

Deb and Tammy and I were relaxing in our room in a Marquette hotel. FLD Harper was entertaining himself by tossing a Kong in the air and chasing after it. FLDs August and Sammy were blowing off some steam. They had a long day in the van and then did some great work during our visit at the Baraga Correctional Facility.

So, while calmly retrieving a laptop charging cord from the tug-of-war play of the August and Sammy, all I said was, "Well, that's no good for you two."

That's all I said and then a giggle broke out from across the room. I caught it faster than a stifled yawn in a boring meeting. I giggled in return.

"Wait," I said. "What's so funny?" Deb's giggle escalated. "Well, that's no good for you two!" she chortled, mimicking my cheery admonishment of the pups, who by this time were happily playing with the Nylabone I had exchanged for the cord.

I giggled harder. Her giggle grew. We volleyed our giggles like tennis player pros. By the time Tammy came out of the bathroom we were practically rolling around on the floor in uncontainable laughter, tears rolling down our cheeks. I thought I might need my inhaler.

"What's so funny?" Tammy asked. This only resulted in another burst of unabashed giddiness. We cackled.

I guess you'd have to be there. It was the second night on the road for us and maybe, just maybe we were a little bit tired.


On Thursday morning, Deb picked up Tammy and I at stops along I-75 for the drive north. We had an afternoon training session scheduled at the Chippewa Correctional Facility. As usual, the inmate raisers were lined up in the yard outside of Pike Unit waiting for us. But we were in for a surprise...


A close shot of a golden retriever puppy's head sniffing up to a fireman's face mask.  

After that amazing presentation, Deb and I took FLDs August and Sammy out on furlough. We met a group of outside puppy raisers for dinner at the Sundown Lounge in Pickford and then gathered at the Pickford Fire Hall. The puppies got to meet firemen in full gear and were exposed to the distracting noise of the fire trucks.

A group shot of thirteen people with 11 Leader Dog puppies on a wood floor with brown walls and windeow in the background. Most are kneeling, four are standing. Two of the poeple are firemen in full gear.
Future Leader Dog puppies and handlers pose with Pickford firemen.

A night shot of two golden retriever puppies in the foreground wearing blue jackets. They are facing away from the camera toward a fire truck that has its lights blinking. There is one man holding the leash of one of the puppies. There are other people and puppies in the background closer to the truck.
Dave Bardsley holds the leash of FLD Drummond while the other pups and handlers walk by the Pickford fire truck.

That night we stayed in the Soo. A short walk and a play session in the room assured a good sleep for all of us.


The next morning started early with another long drive, this time west across the U.P. to Baraga. Warden Thomas Mackie's staff had been busy following their visit to Chippewa in October. Everything for a puppy-raising program was arranged; they just needed Deb's approval. (See the Baraga Correctional Facility page.)

RUM Steve Niemi met us in the parking lot when we finally arrived. He gave us a tour of Housing Unit 8. We met with the potential raisers in a small classoom. Deb talked to them about Leader Dogs for the Blind and the responsibilities they would have as puppy raisers. FLD August impressed everyone with hid demonstration of things he had learned at Chippewa - sit, down, "leg," and under. We handed our leashes over to the inmates.

Now Christmas had come early to Baraga.

That evening we drove east to spend the night in Marquette. The next day we still had to drive back to Chippewa to return FLDs August and Sammy before heading home. Oh, and break out Strider, Deb's career-changed German Shepherd, who had spent the night in Pike Unit.

A goldern retriever puppy wearing a blue jacket is looking away from the camera toward an adult german shepherd dog that is lying on a light colored tile floor. The german shepherd is looking up at the puppy.
Career-changed Strider gazes back at FLD Bravo.

After drying our eyes from the hilarity that we shared, I told Deb, "You could be an honorary member of the Cackle Club."

What's that, you might wonder? Some years ago one of my nieces dubbed my sisters and me the "Cackle Club" during our annual Christmas cookie bake. Get one of us giggling and it's all over.

Welcome to the club, Deb!

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