Wednesday, February 11, 2015


October 23, 2014

Deb Donnelly's visit with the men in Pike Unit begins with an announcement by ARUS Rob. Abe, who is quick to introduce himself with the phrase, "I raise champions," has passed his GED!

Four men are seating on lunch table stools facing the room. The man on the left is wearing maroon sweats and has his hands on his thighs. Between his feet is a white colored golden retriever puppy, lying with his chin on the tile floor between his front paws facing the camera. The next man to the right is also wearing maroon sweats and he is leaning forward with his elbows on his thighs with his hands clasped between his legs. The next man is wearing a white t-shirt and peach sweatpans and is facing left. A black lab puppy is lying between his feet facing left, this puppy is wearing a blue working jacket. The african american man on the right is partly out of view, he is wearing a white t-shirt and blue prison pants. He is also leaning forward looking to the right with his elbows on his thighs with his hands clasped.
Abe (left) is currently raising FLD Andie, the golden retriever that is lying between his feet. His last puppy, FLD Zella, returned to Leader Dogs for the Blind in April. In September she was matched with her new person!   

Each prison facility sets its own requirements for inmates to participate in the Leader Dogs for the Blind puppy-raising program. One prerequisite here at Chippewa is that the inmate must have a high school diploma or GED. ARUS Rob made an exception for Abe. He saw potential in the young man, who had been working hard to get his GED.

Applause was freely given.

As usual, I hand FLD Henry's leash to an inmate so I can concentrate on taking photos. I am impressed by the patience of these men. Matt is eager to handle my barking puppy, even if Henry can be a handful.

A yellow lab/golden retriever mix puppy is lying on a tile floor between the feet of an inmate, whose legs and feet are only in view on the left. The man is wearing maroon sweat panst and white tennis shoes and his holding the leash to the puppy. The puppy is facing out to the right and is wearing the baby blue Future Leader Dog jacket. He is busy chewing on an antler that is between his front paws. In the background is a yellow lab that is lying on a blue mat. She is wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandana and has her head up looking toward the other puppy.
FLD Henry is busy with the antler that Matt gave him to chew. FLD Adell is interested.

A man wearing a white long sleeved t-shirt and maroon sweat pants and white tennis shoes is leaning down and petting the yellow lab/golden retriever puppy that is lying between his feet. The puppy is on his left side facing to the right, with a grey mat and antler next to him. The yellow lab puppy behind him is also lying on her left side. There are two other puppies in the far background. One is a black lab standing up and facing away from the camera, the other is a german shepherd lying facing the camera.
Matt does a good job helping FLD Henry settle.

The yellow lab/golden mix puppy is now on his right side with his left paw on the face of the yellow lab beyond him. This lab is lying on her left side facing him. She is also wearing the blue working jacket. There is now streaks of sunshine across the floor.
FLDs Henry and Adell share a cuddle.

The yellow lab/golden mix puppy has his head up now and is leaning back away from the yellow lab on the right. The lab is still lying donw, but her head is up too and she has her mouth open almost over the snout of the puppy on the left.
Henry leans away from Adell's advances.
A floor level shot of the lab/golden puppy lying on the grey mat between the feet of his handler. The puppy has his head resting on the floor next to the man's right foot and has his eyes closed. The man is scratching the puppy's head with his left hand.
Matt regroups FLD Henry and helps him relax.

A man wearing a white t-shirt and green pants and a blue ball cap is sitting on the tile floor on the left with his legs crossed. He is facing right. His arms are stretched out resting on his knees. In front of him is the lab/golden puppy, who is lying on the floor facing the camera, but his head is turned to the left as he chews on the antler, which is being held in the man's left hand. In the background are the legs of the man with maroon pants and white tennis shoes, and the yellow lab. The lab is lying on her blue mat with her chin over her right leg looking toward the other puppy.
Harlan takes a seat on the floor with FLD Henry and coaxes him to chew the antler instead of causing trouble while Deb chats with the teams.

Deb shares a story about one of the men from the program who has been out on parole for a few months. Scott had raised Drummond, one of the first puppies to come to Chippewa. The big golden returned to Leader Dog shortly before Scot was paroled.

Unfortunately, Drummond was recently career-changed for anxiety-produced behaviors. Because Scott was now free, he was able to adopt Drummond. "I asked him what was the best thing about being out," Deb says, "and he answered, 'Food, food, food!'"

The guys laugh in agreement. 

We are all disappointed in Drummond's career-change, but these puppies will end up just where they need to be.

A floor level shot of a large german shepherd puppy lying on the floor. He is facing the camera and his tongue is just coming out. He is wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandana. The background is out of focus - there are three men sitting with puppies between their feet. They are wearing white t-shirts and the blue prison pants.
FLD Jedi seems bored with all the talk.


  1. I always love reading the adventures of your pups in training. I look forward to the morals and lessons learned from your training, It is so true when you mentioned it is perfectly normal when a dog has a career change because of certain behaviors or health issues. There are so many different options for dogs. Not every dog can fit into a round peg. (Spoken from a true late blooming Bull Terrier lover.)

    1. Thanks for reading, Sford! Comments like yours are positive reinforcement for me. :)

  2. Andie your getting big.

  3. I was glad when the puppies are well looked after