Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Supposed to do

September 11, 2014

What I was supposed to do while Tammy did the new puppy paperwork was greet all the teams and evaluate the puppies' weights. What I ended up doing (mostly) was field questions from the men. They wanted to know why there were changes, why Deb Donnelly would be coming next month instead of Tammy. (See my post 'On my pledge" from December 3.)

I explained how the prison puppy-raising program has grown, maybe too quickly. For it to be successful in its growth, it needs the oversight of a full-time paid employee. Leader Dogs for the Blind will be hiring someone in January, but for now Deb would be taking over to get a good sense of how things work.

A young chocolate lab is lying on a carpeted floor underneath a plastic chair facing the camera. The puppy is wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandana and his leash is hanging free in front of him. A man dressed in the blue prison uniform is sitting on the chair with his legs on either side of the puppy. The man's hands are clasped with his forearms on his knees, but you cannot see his upper body. Another man is sitting next to him to the right, holding a leash. This man is mostly out of view.
FLD Bandit seems to be listening as intently as his handler.

"Are you two ever coming back?" the men asked.

That was a complicated question. Leader Dog pulled the volunteer puppy counselors from the prisons, but gave me permission to tag along with Deb so I could continue to document things. (Luckily, everyone agrees that telling the story is important.) As for the reinstatement of counselors, that is an unknown, and will likely depend on what the new hire decides to do. Tammy and I have always been aware that a change might occur in 2015. It just came a bit sooner, taking us by surprise.

The men weren't happy that we were being replaced. I reminded them that they would benefit from having "the best" (Deb) work with them. Ro said, "But we have a relationship with you guys."

An african american man with corn rows in his hair is cradling a small black lab puppy in his lap, holding her with both of his hands. The puppy is on her back with her legs sticking out. She is wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandana. The man is looking down at the puppy with a scrinched up smile on his face.
Ro has a relationship with FLD GeeGee, too. She has captured his heart. "She's spoiled," he says. Ro says she was already housebroken when he got her. "She came to me already trained!"

I only managed to feel the ribs of FLDs Coda, Adell, Andie, Ashley and Harley (Henry's brother). Tammy rescued me and finished checking FLDs Teysen, GeeGee, Bandit and Chewy. She glanced at the clock. It was already ten minutes to five. There would be no time for training. She promised the guys we'd be back one more time before the end of September so we could do the work we didn't have time for today. Ro said, "I'll hold you to that!"

A woman wearing blue jeans and a royal blue windbreaker is squatting done in the middle of a room full of men inmates. She is facing the right and her hands are reaching down to a young yellow lab puppy lying on the carpeted floor in front of her. She is looking at the men seated behind the puppy.
Tammy talks to the men after helping me check the puppies' weights. She brought the 2014 Leader Dogs for the Blind poster to share.

Many of the men were concerned about the future of this blog. Would I still be able to write it? While they don't have access to my blog, their families do; one raiser said his wife reads it all the time. I assured them that I had Leader Dog's blessing to continue, that I'd do my best to return with Deb in the following months.

Tammy glanced up at the clock again. It was 5:30! So, we'd be late for dinner at the Antlers. Two outside raisers were meeting us there with their puppies, and two volunteers were handling FLDs Chewy and Andie on furlough. Afterwards, we would have a training session at a local school. 

Two bald men are sitting next to each other, looking at the puppies in front of them. They are both wearing white t-shirts and glasses. The man on the left is holding a small chocolate lab puppy in his hands, dangling the puppy's legs in front of him. The puppy is facing left. The man on the right is stroking the head of a grown german shepherd that is sitting in front of him. The german shepherd is wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandana and he is facing left looking at the chocolate lab.
Scott (left) is holding FLD Hershel (who will be going to Baraga) and Doug (right) is stroking the head of FLD Chewy. We say good-bye to Scott as he will be paroled before Tammy and I get back to Chippewa in two weeks.


  1. There is always a reason for things....and things will turn out fine.

  2. Thanks for the update Patti. Best of luck to Scott.

    1. Hey patti I hope all is well! Love to catch up and hear about all that is going on with Chippewa

      If ur wondering who this is its budbuds assistant!

    2. Hey Anonymous! Glad you are able to catch up on things! Thanks for reading and hope all is going well for you. :)