Letters from our Alumni

Published in: Update - Issue 3 - 2016 »   
Seated photo of Kyla and black lab and golden retriever cross Leader Dog Winter

It has been a little over a year since LD Winter and Kyla Miller became a team.

LD Winter has given Kyla the confidence she needed to be independent as she embarked on college life. This year they are sophomores at SMC, have new classes, teachers and even suite mates that are now family. Thank you Leader Dogs for the Blind. I can’t express my gratitude enough.

Lori Conrad-Miller [Mother of LDB client Kyla]
Facebook message - September 22, 2016

Photo of Shannon on a sunny summer day walking on a sidewalk with black lab Leader Dog Frasier in harness

I can’t imagine college without [Leader Dog] Frasier. He makes navigating campus so easy and at times, I think he knows it better than I do. From my dorm I can say “Find Heide” and he’ll take me across campus to Heide Hall. From inside I’ll say “Find Journalism” and he’ll lead me up three flights of stairs, weave me through the crowded hallway straight into the correct classroom and right to my seat next to the cute senior. I’ll sit down and he’ll crawl under my desk, where he’ll remain until class is over. All of this happens in a matter of 10 minutes. With a cane, the same process would take double the time, and I’d probably end up in the wrong classroom.

Frasier gives me independence. I don’t have to rely on others to guide me to a seat in the dining hall or ask to be led to the counter of the café. Frasier does it for me. I can take a 15-minute walk to Wal-Mart on my own agenda, instead of relying on my friends who can drive. Frasier can find the baskets and lead me to our frequently visited locations, then straight to the cashier and out the door.

Frasier is also great to meet new people. He’s a conversation starter and since having him I’ve become a more outgoing person. Every now and then, he’ll grab the attention of a cute guy, even if that means misbehaving, but I’m not complaining.

Shannon Columb

Close-up photo of reddish golden retriever Leader Dog Norm sitting in front of a white backdrop

I want to thank you for the privilege of being able to raise Leader Dog Norm while at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility (FDCF) from March 21, 2013 through March 20, 2014. I’ve recently read about him and it makes my heart swell with pride to think I had a part (albeit small) in his job as a Leader Dog. This program has impacted me, and brought me success in the last year since my release in June of 2015.

Your program inside FDCF is amazing and without it and Norm I would not be the successful man I am today. I’m working as a chef and attending Iowa Western Community College earning my degree in culinary arts and hotel/restaurant management. I owe you all my life, and that debt includes my puppy, Norm. So...thanks.

Michael Hardesty

I got my dog, Pippa, in June of 2015. She has been with me for over a year and has worked very well with me.

Josh stands on a sidewalk in his cap and gown with his parents standing on either side of him. Leader Dog Pippa sits in front of Josh

Joshua celebrates his high school graduation
with his parents, Tom Foreman and Judy Norwak
with LD Pippa by his side.

I got her in the summer before my senior year of high school. The idea was that I would get her before college and then we would already know how to work with each other. High school was a lot of trial and error for the both of us. We each had our mistakes, but overall it was a great experience.

In the few weeks I have been in college, Pippa and I have had our ups and downs. I would personally say its been more ups then downs though. The first two weeks or so were rough. We were both learning campus and we may have gotten lost a time or three. Around week three things got much easier. We knew where we were going, we felt more confident, and we stopped getting lost. She helps me get to class and it truly amazes me how intelligent she is. Pippa is a great Leader Dog, but she also likes to play in her off time.

Pippa is one of the most playful dogs I have ever met. She’s a bundle of joy and energy, and enjoys running around when I take her harness off. Overall Pippa is one of the best things to happen to me, and I thank Leader Dog for all they have done for both of us.

Joshua Foreman