Letters from our Alumni

Published in: Update - Issue 3 - 2013 »     Listen to Article ♫

Paco and his Leader Dog Hallie, a yellow lab, sit next to each other on a outdoor cement step on a sunny day. Paco has his left arm around HallieI was at Leader Dogs for the Blind in September of 2011. I have a wonderful memory of my stay among you, and there is something that reminds me of it every moment of my life and her name is HALLIE. Every day she is more and more beautiful and accompanies me everywhere and that's thanks to you, your work and dedication. I hope you are well and that everything works perfectly at the school. A big hug to everyone from me [Barb, Richard, Jamie, Carrie, Debbie, etc...].

Best regards,
Paco and LD Hallie

Dale, Melissa [Ripley's puppy raisers] and Denise [GDMI],

Robert VanSlyke and his Leader Dog Ripley, a black lab, pose for their Leader Dog I.D. photoI am not good at these types of emails but here goes. Before I applied at Leader Dog my life was in a dark hole that I thought I would never get out of. In my life before all of this, I was the toughest of the tough (Navy Seal) and a senior design executive at Chrysler. In a short time my life changed from being on top to being a person of no hope.

At first I thought the dog would only help me to get on with a depressing life. How wrong I was! When I first met my trainer Denise I felt her bubbly personality and genuine care to not only work with my dog but to help me get out of this hole I was in.

Ripley is more than a Leader Dog, he is my buddy. On or off the leash or harness he is amazing. He has learned my routine and helps me stay on a good path. He got so irritated when I smoked he started making noises even when I was outside smoking. And now I do not smoke at all.

I met with Dale and Melissa [Ripley's puppy raisers] and I know why Ripley is the way he is. I have NEVER seen people care so much for their dogs, even knowing they will not keep them. At first I could not understand why anyone would do this. But now I understand, they do it to help people like me. Dale and Melissa deserve a special place in heaven for their work.

So I must thank the people that helped me get my life back. I no longer pity myself, now I challenge myself to do better. All I can say with great serenity is THANK YOU ALL!!!

Robert VanSlyke

Dear Friends,

Donnie, an older black lab, sits outside on a sidewalk and looks at the  cameraIn the course of [LDB Field Representative] Carlos Galluser's 2012 visit to Costa Rica we both agreed that Donnie would be working for one more year.

Today Donnie is getting to be 10 years and 3 months old and he's been working with me for 8 years and 3 months, and quite proficiently so, I may add. In spite of the fact that, generally speaking, he's been doing a good job, the truth is he now reacts a bit slower and shows signs of fatigue, possibly due to his age.

I think it's only too fair that he should apply for his well-deserved retirement, and remain here with us as what he's been from day one: a well-loved member of the family

For that reason, I formally request to Leader Dogs for the Blind authorization to place Donnie in retirement as of July 01, 2013, as well as to grant me all full and permanent rights and responsibilities that this will entail.

On the other hand, and since it just so happens that I now live close to my working place and am about to enlist in a telecommuting program, I've decided not to request a replacement dog because he would indeed be underutilized by me and would probably be more required by another blind person in need of his full potential.

Through these many years Donnie has served me with both efficiency and loyalty, increasing my independence and mobility, but most important, my sense of security. Due to my public duties, he's repeatedly been the object of social recognition and media exposure, both leading to extolling the labor of Leader Dogs and putting the vital question of human rights for the disabled in the limelight.

Finally, I thank Leader Dog, its sponsors and collaborators for the positive impact affected in my life but, above all, for having given me the chance to share great moments with such a remarkable being as Donnie.

Best Regards,
Alvaro Mendieta

Victor Harris and his Leader Dog Ollie, a black lab, stand outside on a baseball field next to Catcher Patrick Kivlehan

Leader Dog Ollie and I appreciate the opportunity to serve Everett Central Lions Club and Leader Dog for the Blind.

Victor C. Harris

Catcher Patrick Kivlehan of the Everett Aqua Sox stands with Victor Harris and LD Ollie when Victor was asked to throw the opening pitch.