Bob Klein was born and raised in the greater Chicago area. He started his professional career working in sales at Ford, which eventually led him to relocate to the Detroit area. After retiring from Ford Motor Company at 65, Bob was tired of an office environment and decided to give his time to something more meaningful and important to him. That’s when he looked for a volunteer opportunity at Leader Dog. He has now been volunteering at Leader Dog for 23 years. “Leader Dog tried to talk me into working in administration, but I told them I wanted to work hands on with the dogs.”
A self-described dog lover, Bob volunteers at Leader Dogs every Tuesday for a few hours in the morning in our canine care department. He works with his friend and co-volunteer, Joline Clark, in the grooming and bathing area. “I’ve been working with Joline for 20 years. She is a friendly and wonderful coworker, a true joy to work with.”
Knowing that his volunteer hours are a service to others gives him great joy. He doesn’t even feel like he is working because the amount of joy he receives is greater than he could ever give. “It is so rewarding and fun to be give my love to these adorable dogs every week,” he says.
Grooming and bathing is an important part of enriching the lives of our future guide dogs. Not only is it healthy for them physically, but the human contact provides mental stimulation and another source of interaction. Bob describes the experience as fun and wholesome, as the dogs are so young and sweet. He works with our puppies and our dogs in training. His favorite part? “When the dogs snuggle up against you and put their noses on your chest, seeing the joy in their eyes, and every now and then they slobber you with the occasional long tongue.” He notes that some dogs are more receptive to bath time than others. “The labs and retrievers are water dogs, but the shepherds take some persuading and lots of petting.” Luckily, he has Mike Johnson, a canine care attendant, there to help. “[Mike] is so knowledgeable about each of the dogs and their personal needs. He is a pleasure to work with.”
Bob loved working with the dogs so much that he decided to become a puppy raiser. He and his wife raised a yellow lab, Megan, who successfully went on to become a guide dog. He says puppy raising was his most rewarding experience, even though his wife isn’t a “dog person.” When he’s not giving a helping hand here at Leader Dog, Bob spends his time volunteering in hospitals and working at his church, St. Regis Catholic, in Bloomfield Hills. Bob also spends his free time golfing, bowling and playing ping-pong. “I try to stay active and fit, despite being a such an old man,” he jokes.