Letters from our Alumni

Published in: Update - Issue 1 - 2017 »   
Doug is seated in a wooden chair near a dining room in a house. He is wearing a suit and tie and smiling while holding yellow lab Leader Dog Lucky's leash. Lucky is sitting next to Doug on the carpeted floor

Thirty-seven years ago today, I received my first Leader Dog, Eric. During that 37 years, four dogs have given me much courage, confidence, joy and independence in life. I will always be deeply grateful to anyone who has been, is currently, or may in the future be part of the Leader Dog program. Leader Dogs are truly very special gifts, and mere words cannot begin to adequately express what a life-changer they are. My current dog, Lucky, is still healthy, smart, alert, a great worker and frankly—as goofy as ever. He turns 10 this Thursday, but don’t tell him that. He still thinks he’s about two. I intend to keep him that way as long as I can.

Doug Spade
Facebook message - June 13, 2016

Dear Leader Dog,

Close-up photo of Krista and Kaiser. Krista is outdoors on a gray day wearing warm winter clothes in black. She is smiling and holding golden retriever Leader Dog Kaiser next to her

Kaiser and I are very pleased to announce we are working like a well oiled machine. He is relaxed and in charge when we go out “working.” He thrives in busy environments and does such a great job of navigating me around obstacles. He is always ready for a challenge and ready to see what adventure we might be going on each and every day.

He has become a member of the family and has given me so much more confidence about being out and about by myself. I have no fears with him by my side. We trust each other in such a deep and personal way that I never knew I could connect with a dog quite like this.

He has opened so many more opportunities for me and made me feel whole again. I am forever thankful for Kaiser and the joy and freedom that he brings me each and every day! I am so blessed to have found your organization and am so happy to work with the individuals at Leader Dog. Thanks to you, I have my side kick Kaiser with me and we are ready to tackle anything— together! Thank you Leader Dog!


Krista and Kaiser

As I sit here this afternoon, I realize that it was two years ago that I went to Leader Dog for orientation and mobility training. The words thank you are not enough. [The training] gave me the confidence to believe in myself and the confidence to go and do what I am doing today!

So, Leader Dog, as I am about to complete my first semester of finals, I want to say thank you for giving me the chance to realize that I can be independent! Thank you for believing in me every step of the way.

When I came to you I was nervous and apprehensive, I did not know what to expect. Thank you for teaching me night travel, how to cross at stoplights, and everything else! Also, you gave me the chance to see what it was like to walk with a guide dog! I absolutely loved it and cannot wait to receive my own!

Once again, thank you. Words are never enough to express how I feel. Every time I write something like this there are always tears of happiness in my eyes!

Mackenzie Colglazier
Facebook message - December 12, 2016

Linda kneels on a porch in front of a white house, smiling and hugging yellow lab Leader Dog Daisy, who is sitting next to Linda. On Linda's left is a man seated in a black wheelchair. He is leaning toward Linda and Daisy

Linda Radtke and LD Daisy with Linda’s partner,

I got my new dog, Daisy, on August 10, 2016. She’s absolutely beautiful and performs her guiding skills beautifully to match her looks . As I told my instructor during training, I’d never felt so confident walking with a dog guiding me until then. I was so elated that I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Not only is Daisy a hard worker in harness, but she loves to work. Guiding is more like a hobby to her than it is work. She goes nuts when she sees me pull her leash out to go outside or get her ready to go, but she goes even more berserk when she sees me pull out her harness.

She catches onto routes very quickly. John and I have gone through various routes twice with her, and she remembered it [the third time on her own] to the T. Then, a few days later on the routes—she got it on the mark.

Linda Radtke
Facebook message - November 30, 2016