Sunday, June 1, 2014


April 10, 2014

Each month our three-day UP itinerary to meet with the prison puppy-raisers takes us first to the Chippewa Correctional Facility, and then to the Baraga Correctional Facility. In April our trip runs backwards.

We'll be taking Chippewa's first puppies back to Leader Dogs for the Blind to begin formal guide dog training. FLDs Stella, Nell and Tara's raisers will appreciate the extra two days with the pups and the girls don't need to be cooped up in the van any longer than necessary.

Tammy's plan in reverse sounds easy, but that means she must leave her house at 7 a.m. to drive an hour south to Leader Dogs. Here she swaps her car for the van and loads up dog food for the prisons and crates to transport puppies. One crate holds FLD Ecko, a six-month old female yellow lab "finisher" we will drop off at Chippewa on our way to Baraga. It is only a few miles out of our way.

Tammy and I rendezvous along northbound I-75. I bring lunch and an addition for one of the crates. Sometimes being puppy-less is an advantage - FLD Baker, a five-month-old black lab/golden mix, was enjoying a two-week stint at "patti's halfway house" because her raiser was on vacation in Florida.

A young black lab/golden retriever mix puppy is sitting on a sidewalk in front of a stone wall looking at the camers. The puppy is wearing the baby-blue Future Leader Dog working jacket. A brown leash is attached to her coller. Leaning on the right side of the picture are three artificial legs. The first one, closest to the puppy, is from the knee down and it looks like a mannequin lower leg and foot. The middle one is futuristic and made of graphite, from the knee down, the one on the far right is a full leg. The foot and upper leg look like a mannegquin, but the lower leg looks like a metal piston.
FLD Baker is a sweetheart. (And she is house trained!) It is fun to have her along on my assignments writing for the Ogemaw County Voice. Here FLD Baker poses with a selection of artificial legs after my interview of the owner of Orthotec Orthopedics for a future story. (Puts a whole new meaning to the word "leg" doesn't it?)

A close up shot of a woman's face (she is wearing glasses) looking down and to the right at a very small black puppy that she is holding in her right hand. You can only see the puppy's head. The puppy is two weeks old and its eyes are closed still. The tip of its little pink tongue is just stickig out of its clsed mouth.
A two-week old not-yet-named-Baker is  held by her mom's host, Phyllis.

A chocolate lab "mom" is lying down with five black puppies trying to nurse on her. Two other black puppies are nearby. The dog and pups are in a white whelping box, there is a thermometer on the left side. The chocolate lab is looking at the camera with a tired expression! All of the puppies have colorful ribbons tied around their necks for identification.
Baker's mom, Amber, nurses Baker (in the orange and purple ribbon) and her siblings. I was fortunate to act as an assistant mid-wife to Amber during the birth of of this, her fourth and last litter.

A small black lab/golden mix puppy is walking toward the camera, the puppy is looking away to the right. The puppy is walking on a wooden deck that has some snow on it. Behind the puppy are rungs of a railing.
A five-week old not-yet-named-Baker checks out the snow on Phyllis' deck. Baker was named by her raisers, Karen and Ron. Do you know the term "baker's dozen?" This little pup is the 13th puppy being raised by the couple!

Miss Baker and Tammy's FLD Harper will spend the night at Chippewa. Tammy wants to take FLDs Drummond and Bravo on furlough with us to Baraga.

We get to Chippewa sometime after 1:30 p.m. The brilliant sunshine makes the mid-50's temperature feel practically balmy. There are still plenty of snow piles in the yard where the guys are waiting for us, but much has melted. ARUS Rob directs Tammy to pull the big white van right up to the Pike Unit gate for the swap.

Gate pass prisoners carry two large bags of Purina Pro Plan Sport All Life Stages Active 26/16 and two large bags of Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Chicken and Rice Formula into the unit from the van. A special delivery this month - poop bags! We hand off FLDs Ekco, Harper, and Baker in exchange for the two beautiful Goldens. Tammy is distressed when Mr. Harper, for the first time ever, doesn't seem happy to stay. He barks. He stretches his front paws through a space between the gate and the fence, reaching for her. He barks again and tries to squeeze his head through.

Maybe the image of Harper's escape attempt disorients Tammy. Maybe it's just because our schedule is topsy-turvy, that we usually head for Baraga from where we spend the night in the Soo, which is north of Chippewa. Maybe it's because the roads are dry and the sun is shining for the first time in months.


It takes us at least a half hour before we realize we took the wrong turn onto I-75. Our travel day just got longer. 

1 comment:

  1. How nice that you were able to be there for Baker's birth and then take her later. The name is totally fitting too.
    I didn't know that Echo was that young.
    Can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip.