Letters from our Alumni

Published in: Update - Issue 2 - 2015 »   

Edward Latta and LD Kindle on their
Caribbean cruise in December

Leader Dogs not only change the life of the blind person, but also their family. Since my mom works, I take my dad [Everett Latta] and his Leader Dog, Kindle, to all his appointments. He’s had her since November and they’re becoming quite the team. Kindle gives us an opportunity to educate people on blindness. People tend to ask questions when they see a dog in places they don’t expect. There are so many misconceptions. I don’t worry about my dad when he walks the neighborhood with Kindle. I’m thankful for the puppy raisers. You have changed the lives of my family and many others.

We have done more in the last six months than I did in the last five years before I got her. We talk to many people that want to know about Leader Dogs for the Blind and what you’ve all done for the girl from the farm!

Christina Jewell – Facebook post on July 15, 2014

Update: Christina’s mother and father went on a Caribbean cruise in December of 2014. Sandy Latta, Christina’s mother, told us, “Kindle was a big hit and she helped us meet so many people!”

Dear Leader Dog,

Ron Schmidt and LD Lila visit his daughter, Robyn,
in Portland, Oregon

This spring, I had wanted to visit my twin daughters in Oregon. [Leader Dog] Lila had only been on a plane once, two years ago, so I was a little concerned how she would do on a cross-country flight. I need not have worried, and I hope any of you who are hesitating to fly to visit family or friends with your Leader Dog will go for it. Some things I did that were helpful:

First, I did not feed Lila or give her water the morning we left for the airport. I had booked my ticket through the airline’s disability department and asked for assistance after check-in to get to the jet and transfer to my connecting flight. I also requested window seats in the bulkhead rows so Lila would have lots of room to lie down. Immediately upon our arrival, I gave her water and food.

We had a one-mile walk between gates, but a really nice sighted guide to go along. We talked about service dogs the whole time.

Now we are back [at home] but still remembering our great trip. Lila loved Portland where folks are dog friendly. Her tail never stopped wagging. It was a fantastic two weeks.

The airport personnel from checking us in to security to flight attendants were all very friendly to us as were the passengers in our row of seats going and coming. I think part of it is because Lila is such a cute and well-behaved black lab, but also due to her puppy raiser and instructors at Leader Dog.

Ron Schmidt


Lexi Westphal and LD Roman

I just wanted you to know I appreciated all efforts to help me get through the class. I am Deaf, but wear hearing aids. In noisy confusing situations I cannot understand speech. Over time in those situations I can get overwhelmed.

My instructor Denise, had a LOT of patience with me and she did her best. Jill was also a pleasure to work with. Everyone including the staff and the volunteers who got me through the airport and to my plane were wonderful.

I had a chance to meet Roman’s puppy raisers, and tears came easy the moment I met this beautiful couple. I am so grateful and thankful to them for loving and caring for their Future Leader Dog who became my Leader Dog.

My life with Usher’s Syndrome has made me more appreciative of life and all I have been given. I’ve done things I never thought I would or could do.

I know that no matter what happens to me I can go outside and go for a walk on a beautiful day and keep moving forward, my face upward to the sun and my Leader Dog at my side.

Yes, I’m thankful for all the puppy raisers.

Lexi Westphal

Dear Leader Dog,

Joanne Raczkiewicz and LD Meisje

We graduated last August. It’s hard to believe that much time has flown by already!

The main reason I had applied for a dog was to be able to continue taking my two-mile walks. Meisje has been a wonderful help for that along with anything else we face. Her memory is amazing so that once taught to find something she knows where it is even after a three month gap in time. My husband had emergency surgery in June and this week was at the same hospital for knee replacement surgery. Once Meisje was through the hospital front doors she was well on her way down the hall to find the elevator buttons without any prompting on my part.

I love the freedom from the cane and of course she’s a love off harness.

Thank you again to Leader Dog for such a wonderful gift and addition to my life. I brag about Leader Dog all the time!

Joanne Raczkiewicz