March 18, 2014
Rochester Hills, Michigan
ANNOUNCER: We interrupt these irregularly scheduled blog posts to bring you a breaking news story. Fifteen new Leader Dogs were issued to their partners today at the Leader Dogs for the Blind facility in Rochester Hills, Michigan.
These pups were whelped in volunteer host homes, raised by other volunteers for about one year, and then advanceed through four to five months of challenging job training.
Today the dreams of all the volunteers and trainers are fulfilled. Today the dogs are introduced to their forever person; they move into the Polk Residence at Leader Dogs for the Blind. For the next 26 days, the dogs and their new handlers will begin the bonding process and learn to work as a team.
[Drum roll please.]
Congratulations to Leader Dog Dutch!
raised by patti brehler
raised by patti brehler
[Clap and cheer!]
Patti, can you tell us how you are feeling right now?
PATTI: I always hate these kind of questions. How do I feel? How does the sun shine?! My insides are trembling, my face hurts from smiling, my heart is about to burst. See me? I am doing a happy dance!
ANNOUNCER: But, isn't it hard to give up the puppy you raised for a year?
PATTI: It is not easy. When I brought Dutch back to Leader Dogs last November, just about one year after picking up that fuzzy ball of puppy breath, I cried. It never gets easier. If it were easy, everyone would be raising puppies for Leader Dogs. Those of us who can, do. And we do it again and again and again.
Yes, it is sad to say good-bye to that creature that's been at the end of your left arm for so long. And after you say good-bye, the waiting will drive you crazy if you think on it too long. You wonder if it is possible to hold your breath for four or five months. You dread the phone call that sometimes comes from Leader Dogs. "Your puppy has been career-changed."
But. Then you get this email:
Dear puppy raiser, The puppy you raised has been issued to a student in the current class.
This little email makes it all worthwhile. And then, if all goes well, you meet the new team. Priceless.
ANNOUNCER: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
PATTI: When have I never had something more to say? [LOL]
Raising a puppy for Leader Dogs for the Blind is not a solo exercise. I couldn't have raised Dutch without the help of too many people to name. I'll try. I want to thank my family and friends, my community, everyone, especially...
My husband Andy for his unending support (and carpet cleaning).
|Andy with his morning coffee. Dutch is resting under his legs.|
My sister Anne & Co. (her three daughters) for puppy-sitting and believing in me.
|Two of my nieces help FLD Dutch learn to appreciate the tuba.|
My family for listening to all my Leader Dog-this and Leader Dog-that talk.
|Andy's daughter and her husband hang out with FLD Dutch.|
The Ogemaw County Voice for publishing my articles about Dutch and Leader Dogs.
|Grange and Kathy, publishers and owners of the Ogemaw County Voice are happy to have FLD Dutch stop by their display table at an Art and Wine Walk in downtown West Branch.|
My puppy counselor Tammy for always lending an ear, and for asking me to come to the U.P. with her.
|Tammy and a Chippewa inmate raiser practice a meet & greet with FLD Dutch...who performs perfectly!|
Deb for teaching me how to wait (and for joining the "Cackle Club.")
|FLD Dutch finally settles next to Deb during last year's puppy counselor training at Leader Dogs for the Blind.|
My fellow puppy-raisers for understanding.
|FLD Dutch surveys the crowd during a training weekend at Leader Dogs for the Blind.|
My dog Gypsy for keeping Dutch in line.
|Gypsy snarls at FLD Dutch for going after Andy's shoes. (Or maybe for just getting too close to her!)|
My career-changed dog Gus, for allowing Dutch to drag him around.
The Bardsleys for raising Dutch's dad, Alphie (and helping to get puppies into the Chippewa Correctional Facility).
|At the Chippewa Correctional Facility. From left to right, ARUS Rob, Deb with cc'd Tripp and FLD Strider, Tammy with FLD Harper, patti with FLD Dutch, and Paula and Dave Bardsley. The beginning of Leader Dogs' U.P. prison puppy raising program.|
The Rose City Cafe and the New Sunrise Cafe and all their regulars for putting up with Dutch's barking phase.
|Staff at the Rose City Cafe pose with a young FLD Dutch|
|FLD Dutch with the owners of the New Sunrise Cafe.|
|The regulars at the New Sunrise Cafe say good-bye to FLD Dutch.|
Mrs. Matthews' second-graders at Surline Elementary for knowing when to pet him and when to ignore him.