Letters from our Alumni

Published in: Update - Issue 2 - 2017 »   
Close up photo of Marty's face. She is wearing a yellow shirt and sitting on a wooden bench indoors. She is smiling at the camera

I want to thank all the staff at Leader Dog for an excellent week of Orientation & Mobility (O&M) Training and my “on the street” training in my community. I especially want to thank my personal O&M specialist, Leslie Hoskins, whose professional expertise exceeded my expectations and helped me find a practical way of regaining my independence. Just as important as the actual cane techniques, Leslie also instilled a “Can Do” attitude with her patience, encouragement and a core belief that I would succeed. Dispelling fears and providing a safe environment made learning possible. Thank you for these invaluable skills.

It was wonderful to be in a team inspired environment. Every experience was impressive! From the kindness shown in my initial correspondence, the resident assistant who greeted me at the door, the chefs who met my dietary needs and all the staff I had the pleasure of meeting. Again, my thanks go to all for this enlightened, useful, realistic training, guidance and support.

Warm Regards,
Martha “Marty” Homan

Leader Dog I.D. photo of James and Leader Dog Ollie. James is wearing a white polo and sitting in front of a gray photo background. Seated next to him is yellow Labrador Ollie in his leather Leader Dog harness

Our son, James Lockwood, received the most wonderful high school graduation gift in 2004—Scout, his first guide dog. The entire family fell in love with Jim’s loyal companion and were sad, yet excited, to see them head off to college. Scout attended every class with Jim for four years of undergraduate work and three years of law school at Notre Dame. We always said that Scout was the most educated guide dog ever. He was a favorite around campus and professors often commented that they hoped they weren’t boring Scout as he snored through some of the lectures.

Notre Dame is a closed campus so there wasn’t much concern about traffic and people driving maintenance vehicles became familiar with Jim’s walking routes and watched out for them. It sometimes became a standoff as the maintenance vehicles were waiting for them to cross a road and Scout was waiting for the vehicle to go past. As time went on, it was predictable that Scout became less vigilant about crossing streets. Therefore, when Jim graduated law school and prepared to move to a bigger city, he applied for and received his new best friend, Ollie. My husband and I gratefully accepted Scout back into our home where he became my best friend and companion and had a wonderful retirement.

I know you have heard this a million times because your dogs are all so awesome, but we all loved that dog with our whole beings and miss him terribly. Please keep up the good work you do because without Scout, it would have been extremely difficult for Jim to have the life and career he has now. Scout gave him the confidence that he can do anything a sighted person can do. Leader Dog Scout will never be forgotten.

Sherry Lockwood

Leader Dog I.D. photo of Chad and Leader Dog Perry. Chad is wearing a gray t-shirt and baseball cap and sitting in front of a light gray photo background. Seated next to him is black Labrador Perry in his leather Leader Dog harness

Five years ago, a giving family hosted Perry’s mother (Knickers) and Perry entered into the puppy raising program. Amy, from Kalamazoo, lovingly raised Perry for a year, navigating him through the obedience classes and returned him to Leader Dogs for the Blind [to start his formal training].

His instructor harnessed Perry’s personality and energy where he earned his nickname of PearBear.

PearBear allows me to work with families fleeing domestic violence. The setting is constantly changing and PearBear adapts like a pro. He allows me to work with a lady for a few hours and then zoom across a building, up three flights of stairs, where he then waits patiently while I advocate for my clients via the phone.

To decompress from the day, PearBear and I go on a 3–5 kilometer route each night. Like a surgeon, PearBear guides me through a moving maze of obstacles and traffic. My family, friends and colleagues are grateful for the donors (financial and of their time) who changed our family’s lives!

Chad Duncan

Black and white photo of David standing outside on a sidewalk wearing pants and a tucked in, checkered shirt. He is holding the harness handle of German shepherd Leader Dog Lady, who is standing next to him on the sidewalk

David Wilson and his first Leader Dog, Lady, in

My donation was made in memory of David Wilson, the father of my oldest daughter. He passed away last week.

David lost his sight as a teenager over 50 years ago. He received five dogs from your organization. David accomplished much in his life. He earned two master’s degrees, taught at a university, traveled across the U.S. and to many countries, and proudly raised two lovely daughters. At times he was a stay-at-home dad who cooked, did the laundry, diapered, bathed and dressed his little girls. He would do errands with a baby on his back, a satchel over one shoulder and a dog in the other hand, traveling by foot and by bus. In his later years he became locally known as ”Blind Dave,” a blues singer. His dogs made much of these accomplishments possible for him. They also became his best friends and part of the family. In fact, just a few months ago his current dog, Bob, walked down the aisle with him as he gave his daughter’s hand in marriage.

On behalf of all the people who were touched by David’s presence in their lives, I want to thank this organization for providing one of the most important tools for him to live independently and accomplish his dreams.

Connie Herold