August 15, 2014
Our session was drawing to an end, in more ways than one. FLDs August, Sammy and Ekco would be leaving with us this day. Tammy would take them back to Leader Dogs for the Blind so they could begin their formal guide dog training.
Emotions ruled. Abe, who suffered through this last April when FLD Zella left, gave sage advice to the teams. "You know it's alright to cry, right?"
Tammy announced each puppy's new "dog" tag number and presented its raisers with thank-you certificates from Leader Dog. Lots of us had blurry vision. Pick (an inmate who volunteers to help in the program in any way he can) was so distraught he left the yard and retreated into Pike Unit. Eric never took off his sunglasses.
|John and FLD Ekco with the certificate.|
|Eric and FLD August.|
|Dave and FLD August.|
|Dave gives FLD August a big hug.|
|Ro and FLD Sammy.|
|Ro plants a big one on Sammy.|
The men shared stories.
Ro said that FLD Sammy LOVES apples. He told us that Sammy once stole five apples off the top of his crate over the course of a week. Ro had admonished his roommate for giving the apples to the pup. The roommate insisted he did no such thing. "On Saturday I stopped by my room after lunch to drop off my apple," Ro said. "Sammy was snoring on his back outside the crate, so I quietly put the apple up there and went to work out." His roommate called him back. "There was Sammy in his crate eating the apple!" Ro said.
|Hello FLD Sammy. 2013.|
Ro and Abe wanted to re-enact their first photo with FLD Sammy from last September.
What a change in all three of them!
|Good-bye FLD Sammy. Almost a year later, Ro (left) and Abe (right) hoist up a much bigger puppy.|
John shared how FLD Ekco would come to wake him up in the morning. "He'd put his front paws on my bed and nudge me with his nose," he said. "Get up!" John also told us how Ekco always stretched before getting out of his crate, so he started saying, "bow," whenever the pup stretched. "Now Ekco bows on command," he said. A brilliant example of putting a behavior on "cue."
Scott said, "We don't believe you. Show us."
|FLD Ekco "bows" on John's command.|
FLD August's raisers were quiet and no one else ventured a story about him. So I did. I talked about the first time the little guy went on furlough with Tammy and me in the Soo and we took a walk on the bike path next to business loop I-75. August responded quickly to positive reinforcement for loose leash walking. "He just pranced right along," I said. I thought he was a puppy who was eager to learn.
|Dave (left) and Eric (right) with FLD August last October. These three have changed also!|
TIME TO GO
For some reason, the photos I took of the guys putting their puppies into the Leader Dog van were all a little bit blurry. My camera has auto-focus, but perhaps I was shaking. Just a little. This never gets any easier. I'll let my "photo-shopped" pictures tell the story of good-bye...
|John says good-bye to FLD Ekco.|
|Harlan (right) can't contain himself and has to come out to the van to say good-bye.|
|Dave puts FLD August into the Leader Dog van. Eric could not bring himself to come out to the van.|
|Ro puts FLD Sammy into his crate in the Leader Dog van. He tossed the apple in with Sammy, who waited until Ro left before he ate it.|
|Ro turns from the van. Nope. It is never easy.|
DOGSPEED puppies! And great job raisers!
|FLDs Ekco and August, in their crates for the long drive south.|
|FLD Sammy, apple eaten.|