Letters from our Alumni

Published in: Update - Issue 2 - 2014 »   
Leader Dog Hunnie, a yellow lab, lies on the floor in a dog-size black cap and gown at a graduation ceremony

LD Hunnie

I have a wonderful dog, Hunnie, and in just a few weeks we will be graduating from Defiance College. She has been so much help and without her I know going to classes would have been difficult. So before I get even busier with graduation, I WANT TO SAY THANK YOU FOR HUNNIE.

Lora Armstrong - Facebook post on March 30, 2014

Leader Dog personnel stand behind a table covered in white canes, goggles to help sighted people simulate visual impairment, a guide dog harness and other paraphernalia

O&M table at the Open House

During our 75th Anniversary Open House, a family approached the orientation & mobility table—a smiling mother, two beautiful daughters and some grandkids. One daughter, who had her mother on her elbow, was intently looking at and discussing all the canes on the table with her mother. Her mother listened with a kind smile and shook her head no. The daughter then looked up at me with a desperate look on her face. I shot her a smile and then turned to her mother for the sell. I showed her several canes with varying cane tips. She held them, even rolled one on the floor a few times before handing it back to me. I offered her the cane to keep—she refused. I then looked at the daughter and told her if her mother changed her mind, we would be here to help.

The daughter told me that her mother had been blind for quite some time and refused services. They knew she needed some cane training in order to get a dog, so she and her sister thought they’d bring her to the Open House. Her mother tried to back out that morning, but they had convinced her that it would be worth it. We shook hands and they left.

About 20 minutes later, I looked up to see the daughter’s face beaming—her mother still on her arm. She said ecstatically, “She changed her mind, she wants the cane!” Thrilled, I rushed to the other side of the table, shook her hand and gave her the first lesson of opening and closing the folding cane. Next, she learned to use constant contact, navigating around some obstacles (chairs) and locating the back wall of the building. She continued to practice and every time I tried to step in and offer help she said, “No, I want to do this by myself.” She also began discussing the route from her front door to the mailbox—a route she was lost on for 30 minutes one day. I explained the importance of placing a radio in the window to keep her oriented which, along with the cane, will keep her from getting lost again. She left with the cane, a smile on her face and a very happy family.

The daughter called the following week for an application to our Accelerated Orientation & Mobility Training.

AJ Walker, Leader Dog orientation & mobility instructor

Kim Becker sits next to Leader Dog Gracie Mae, a black lab, in front of a beige photo background for their team photo

Kim Becker and LD Gracie Mae

Hello to Everyone at Leader Dog,

Just a note to update you all on how Gracie Mae and I are doing in our new and everyday exciting life. I can never thank everyone enough for changing my life by matching me with Gracie Mae.

Gracie is more than just a Leader Dog, she’s my partner, my best friend, my smile every day, my comfort, my love. I can never imagine a life without her now. We have done more in the last six months than I did in the five years before I got her.

Going to speak at a school was a very scary and exciting day for us. We talked to kids in K-4th grade (about 200 kids, teachers and all others who could sneak in to peek at Leader Dog Gracie). When I heard all the kids coming into the gym they were so loud, but by the time I started talking you could hear a pin drop. My mother-in-law told me that when I started my presentation the kids listened with such interest and excitement. When I asked if there were any questions, every single hand went up. I think this show could have gone on for hours but the principal had to call time after an hour or so.

Gracie is such a pro. She surprises me every day and always wants to learn, just like the kids.

We talk to many people who want to know about Leader Dogs for the Blind and what you’ve all done for this girl from the farm!!! Thanks again to everyone at Leader Dog.

Kim Becker

Ivy Green, a yellow lab, sits in her leather Leader Dog harness on the floor looking up at the camera

LD Ivy Green

Ivy Green and I arrived home yesterday afternoon after our 26 days of training. After a home orientation, pet introduction and lots of sleep, we did our very first route at home today. The feeling of walking my own neighborhood with FREEDOM is amazing. I cannot thank you guys enough! Thank you to the instructors, the resident assistant and cleaning staff, the O&M specialists, kitchen staff, puppy raisers and breeding hosts, and anyone not coming to my very tired mind at the moment... absolutely everyone is amazing! I will never forget you and could never thank you all enough.

Thank you for giving me the gift of freedom and independence again. It’s been so very long.

Elaine Lubosch - Facebook post on April 11, 2014