Wednesday, May 7, 2014

We had no idea...and then we met

March 6, 2014

This day I finally got to meet fellow blogger Jess, and her guide dog Nala. (Nala is Jess's third guide dog. Her first two guide dogs came from Leader Dogs for the Blind; Nala is from a different guide dog school because Jess was living abroad at the time.)

Four years ago, when I started writing about my Future Leader Dog puppy-raising experiences on my other blog, "plays with puppies", I got virtually acquainted with Jess. She wrote her own blog about her experiences as a guide dog handler. Jess's blog is now titled "Walking Barefoot in the Sand." She also keeps a blog about her amazing athletic career - "Sea, Land and Tires."

Jess and I share some twists of fate...

My third Future Leader Dog Gus has the same Leader Dog "dad" as Jess's second Leader Dog Glacier. (Read my post, Introducing: JESS, Guest Blogger!)

In the spring of 2011, Jess was staying at Leader Dogs for the Blind for some brush up work with Glacier. On the night I came to visit the new handler of my "graduated" second puppy (Mike), Jess and I practically brushed elbows as we passed each other in the halls of the Polk Residence. We had no idea that we came so close to physically meeting.

In August of 2011, Jess read my blog post, FLD Gus Goes to the UP. My puppy Counselor, Tammy, snagged me into heading north for outings with some of her UP raisers. Turns out that one of Tammy's Canadian raisers worked with Jess's uncle. Small world.

That's not the end of it. With the advent of "puppies inside," Jess made another connection. Our visits to the Chippewa Correctional Facility, not very far south of the Soo, brought me close to her home. I had no idea she lived on the other side of the International Bridge. In January of 2014, we made arrangements to meet during a furlough outing with the Chippewa puppies, but a winter storm kept Jess north of the border. Later that month, she missed another training session with us because she was off competing in the Canadian Para Nordic ski nationals.

In the meantime, Jess and Nala crossed paths with Kim and FLD Kayla at a mall in the Canadian Soo. (Check out Jess's post Puppy Fix!) The two got connected through me and they started spending time together. Jess and Nala even came to the Chippewa Correctional Facility with Kim to meet the inmate raisers. Seeing the end result to one's puppy raising endeavor is always an inspiration.

FINALLY. We would meet! Jess and Nala were waiting for us back at Chippewa. They have become a regular part of the team.

Here is a link to Jess's blog describing this day: Another Prison Visit + Long Awaited Meeting.

An adult yellow lab is lying on a light brown tile floor, facing to the left. She is wearing a neon yellow guide dog harness. A woman and a man are sitting on blue plastic chairs behind the dog. The woman, on the left, is wearing a long sleev blue and white striped shirt and blue jeans and furry winter boots. Her hair is brown and streaked with blonde in the front and is neck lenght. The man is wearing the blue and orange pirson uniform and white tennis shoes. He is bald and is leaning toward the woman in conversation. A man wearing a white t-shirt and blue pants is standing behine to the far left, mostly out of view.
Guide dog Nala waits at the feet of Jess, who is in conversation with one of the Chippewa raisers.


  1. Oh! I forgot even some of those smaller coincidences. I think we were supposed to meet all along. :) And, I'm so glad we did.

    1. I am too, Jess! Sometimes I wish I was 30 years younger so we could ride my tandem together, and I could run with you. It's my pleasure to know you.