Letters from our Alumni

Published in: Update - Issue 2 - 2013 »   
Mytchiko and Leader Dog Maya, a yellow lab, pose for their Leader Dog I.D. photo
From our Facebook page:

To any and all puppy raisers—I would like to say thanks for all you do. My Leader Dog is a small yellow Lab named Maya without whose help my road and journey through college would be much more difficult and not nearly as much fun. Words cannot describe the respect and gratitude I have for Maya's puppy raisers, the Grill family, and for all puppy raisers.

Mytchiko McKenzie

Margaret sits with her arm around her former Leader Dog, a yellow lab

Dear Leader Dog,

I received my first Leader Dog when I was 50 years old. I am now 87. I am so thankful for all the years of guidance, love and freedom from my dogs.

On April 21, 2012 my Leader Dog Cosette died. She was a wonderful dog and I still grieve. A new Leader Dog was delivered to me on June 30. Mike Stasiuk brought her and coached us all week. It was a wonderful week. We did local trails, the mall—everything the same as at Leader Dog. Mike was fun, caring and respectful.

My new dog was a high energy, very smart 2 year old. I've had a change in my health and was unable to give her the exercise and strong training she still needed. I consulted Mike through all this and he was encouraging and supportive. I've had enough dogs to know what she needed—a young person who could walk, run and play with her. She will be a great dog. So talking with Mike I got the courage to send her back last Friday.

In gratitude,
Margaret (Peg) Olson

Update: The dog was reissued to a young woman in the United States shortly after her return to Leader Dog.

To: Leader Dogs for the Blind
Hi Leader Dog,

Batman as a puppy sits while wearing a gray bib with the Batman symbol on it

the Leader Dog puppy [black lab named Batman] we raised back in 2008/2009. He was ultimately assigned to Kenneth Clark—who we lovingly refer to as the "reverse Superman" because his name is reverse of Clark Kent! Batman and Superman make a great pair!

I was devastated when we turned Batman in to Leader Dog. He had become part of our family and it was like giving up your child after a year, but now that I talk to Ken and get updates about how much his life has improved with Batman, I feel so good! Batman and Ken are lucky to have each other and we were lucky to be a part of their lives! Keep up the good work Leader Dog!

Mary Beth Halushka
Puppy Raiser

To: Mary Beth & Jim Halushka

Hi folks,

Ken kneels next his Leader Dog, Batman

Hope you all are fine. The Batman character is doing well. I'm very proud of that little guy, he learned his lessons very well. Last week while going through the parking lot, all of a sudden he cut right across in front of me and I thought "What are you doing boy?" Then I found out! A person never looked back when they backed up and drove right in front of us, but Batman blocked me so they didn't hit us. He got lots of LOVE and lots of treats.

Kenny and Leader Dog Batman


My name is Paul. I have been incarcerated since 1998. I am now nearing the end of my time with my second Leader Dog puppy. Before I started this program I was unintentionally closing myself off—starting not to care about a lot of things. I was starting to lose touch with my family.

When the puppy program started I was very skeptical of it. Then, as I started spending time with puppies, I started thinking more about my grandfather who lost his sight because he was diabetic. I began thinking how his life would have been different if he would have had a Leader Dog. The more I thought about him the more I wanted to help someone else.

The day my first puppy was put into my hands I was overwhelmed. The sweet, big-headed, little boy was loving, feisty and stubborn. He was wonderful! He also challenged me in every way. He brought warmth back into my heart. He gave me a reason to get up every day and more than that, a sense to smile more, along with enjoying each day with a purpose other than just getting through it.

Somewhere along the way I started thinking about why people would sponsor puppies* for us to raise. I finally realized it was a generosity of wanting to help another person out and this person was visually impaired. Also, they believed in what our program was doing and they believed in us. Now every day I try to be more like them—thinking of how I can do more to help others. I also have something to be proud of and can share that with my family.

Paul L

*Individuals sponsor puppies through the prison to offset veterinary, supply and food costs.