July 18, 2014
The day after Puppy Days at the Chippewa Correctional Facility was a watershed moment. Scott's feelings of "impending loss" were about to become real. FLDs Drummond and Bravo, the first puppies in the Leader Dogs for the Blind prison puppy-raising program in Michigan, were returning to the Rochester Hills campus for their formal guide dog training. Joining the two golden retrievers was FLD Granite, a "finishing" puppy that came to Chippewa some months ago.
It was their time.
|Practicing meet & greets.|
But first. Tammy-the-taskmaster wanted the group to do a few exercises before she completed the separation paperwork with Scott, Morrison and Jeremy, the raisers of the three dogs. We applied Frontline on all the puppies, practiced meet & greets, handler's exams and "arounds."
Then we chatted about the Puppy Days celebration; we decided it all went very well. The men were thrilled with how receptive the guests were to them. Joe said when the presentations were over and the guests were invited to partake in pizzas and deserts prepared by inmates in the prison's culinary program, he thought everyone would rush over to the food tables.
"Instead, they all got in line to meet all of us," Joe said. "They shook our hands and told us we were doing a great job." None of the men expected this kind of reaction.
|Inmate raiser Joe (right) holds FLD Teysen while being greeted by Dave Bardsley and Lions Club members.|
But there it was, a transcendence of circumstance. These were men after all, paying their dues, attempting to bring positive change to themselves by creating opportunities of independence to strangers they will never meet. Raising puppies!
On to business. The men shared stories about the three pups that were about to leave.
Raisers Morrison and Cody revealed how nervous they were when young little Bravo arrived. "He's a sensitive puppy," they said, nicknaming him "Budbuddog." ("All one word," they said.) Morrison told a story about Bravo having an accident that elicited laughter around the room. "I had poop on my leg and in my new Nikes!" he said.
|Morrison and FLD Bravo show off the "thank you" certificate from Leader Dog.|
Everyone agreed that the big golden was a protector and guardian of the new puppies. "He let Ashley walk on his back in the snow," they said. The men shoveled pathways in the deep snow. Ashley was walking on top of the banks and couldn't make the jump over the chasm to the other side. Drummond positioned himself so the pup could use him as a bridge.
|FLD Adell (left) lies safely next to FLD Drummond.|
|Scott and FLD Drummond with the Leader Dog "thank you" certificate.|
The teams were afraid of this finishing puppy when he came to Pike Unit. "The first night he growled like a golden with a toy in his mouth," Jeremy said. And Granite wouldn't let them get close - he came a long way with Jeremy's help.
|Jeremy and FLD Granite are proud of their Leader Dog "thank you" certificate.|
Doug added a story about Tammy's FLD Harper, who had spent some time in Pike Unit with him. One morning when Harper woke him up because he needed to "park," Doug stopped to use the restroom on the way. Little Harper couldn't wait and Doug had a mess to clean up. "I learned you can't procrastinate with a puppy," he said.
|John (left) and Harlan (right) hold up FLD Ekco's AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate.|
The guys encourage Ro to demonstrate his method of urging the laid-back FLD Sammy to "get a move on." Amongst cheers, Ro danced across the room with the lab singing a do-rop ditty. Too bad we couldn't get a recording!
|Ro and FLD Sammy kickin' it out.|
|Morrison says good-bye to FLD Bravo...|
|...not an easy task.|
|Scott leaves a treat for FLD Drummond.|
|Tammy latches the door of Drummond's crate as Scott turns away.|
|Jeremy reaches toward FLD Granite for a last pet.|
|FLDs Granite and Drummond.|
|FLD Grant, who was just visiting, and FLD Bravo.|