Letters from our Alumni

Published in: Update - Issue 2 - 2012 »    Listen to Article ♫

Dear Leader Dog,

From the time volunteer driver Gary picked me up at the airport [to attend AMP training] to the time Dave and Carl, also volunteer drivers, made sure I was safely with an airport escort, I saw quality and concern from everyone at Leader Dog.

The orientation & mobility instructors were so caring and patient with teaching and understanding so that no one ever felt stupid or inadequate. It was a challenge with me not knowing anything about using a cane, but everyone was up to the challenge! Kim and Brenda in the dining room do a great job. Diane and Carol in Client Services are perfect for the positions they hold at Leader Dog.

I have told everyone who will listen that Leader Dog facilities are top notch not only for the clients and staff but for those wonderful dogs too.

Again, I can't thank you ALL enough for everything that you did while I was there. I'm already mapping out my rural route, my husband is helping, so that I can again walk it and I'm using my cane wherever we go.

Joanne Raczkiewicz

Dear Leader Dog,

When Katie Stamm [my Leader Dog instructor] gave me Willow, a yellow Labrador, I was delighted to find that there was a very nice chemistry between us. That day I was with Willow about two hours playing on the floor and singing songs while constantly petting her.

When I started working with her, I felt very safe. While in Michigan I had no mishaps with Willow and every time I felt happy and satisfied with her character. Sometimes I start to think about the relationship and I think she was born to be my guide.

When I returned to Puerto Rico, Willow quickly adapted to the language, the people and the environment in which we both operate. She felt love and acceptance by the people around me, including people walking down the street showing kindness, which helped in her adjustment process and bonding with me.

One day we were waiting for an elevator [at work] on the 15th floor. The elevator door opened and I gave the command to go, but Willow did not obey. I gingerly touched the elevator with my foot, realizing that although the door was open, the elevator had not arrived. This means that Willow saved my life and I do not know how to thank you. Seriously, she is well trained and very aware of her role as guide dog. This incident reaffirmed the security that she gives me.

Willow is my fifth guide dog and each of them has been an extraordinary experience. Leader Dog has been a great help and I thank all the instructors who have worked with me and the performance of the dog's commendable work helping to improve my quality of life.

Thanks Leader Dogs for the Blind!

Maria Morales and Leader Dog Willow
Puerto Rico

Dear Leader Dog,

My very, very beloved Hannah has flown on the wings of love into God's arms on April 18, 2012. She was 13 1/2 years old—quite old in people years. I could not have asked God for a more precious dog than Hannah. She was always ready to go on any assignment, any place, any where, any time.

Hannah pranced into my life in August 2000 at Leader Dog, where she was trained by Randy Horn. In Rochester she was already much loved before she came to me. Jeff and Nancy Sever [her puppy raisers] raised her beautifully and gave her to me as a gift, which had to be very hard to do.

We went many times to Greenfield Village [in Dearborn, Michigan] which I think was a very favorite place for both of us. She could take me around and even back to the bus stop. We went so much that many of the workers knew her there. She knew the route to our home and around the neighborhood. She knew the way to every doctor's office better than me.

Hannah stayed with me through seven eye surgeries, even going to the hospital for most of them. She saw [my] brand new baby grandchildren the day they were born. She attended family weddings and funerals. She gave comfort to everyone she met.

Hannah stood up for life issues with me including 40 Days for Life, and stood by me while I gave speeches and attended meetings for Christian Services, bus issues, and Michigan Military Mom's meetings while our son Jeremy was in Iraq. She even marched in a parade with the Military Mom's on Memorial Day.

The Hillsdale Veterinary Hospital took care of her for eleven years. I had them help me say "Good-bye" with very great love. She will be placed in a pet cemetery along with other dogs and puppies. I thought that would be the most fitting place for her to be. Also, I will have a little plaque of her paw print.

I could not have been more blessed than I was by the gift of love Hannah gave me.

Love to All,
Jane King and Hannah