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Three Journeys with Leader Dogs

Mark sits on a park bench with flowers and greenery behind him. Yellow lab Leader Dog Izzy sits in front of him on the cement in her harness.

Fifteen years ago I began my journey to receive my first Leader Dog, Callie. [Guide Dog Mobility] Instructor Sue guided me through the new experience of learning the commands, what the dog is capable of in times of any difficult path that was before me. Callie was very curious and loved to smell the fresh flowers along our paths.

Ten years later, my first dog retired and I was once again on the journey for my second dog, Hanna, with instructor Kate. She helped me to understand the need to sharpen my skills working with a new leader dog. Hanna was full of energy and determination to show me what she was capable of.

Mark and yellow lab Leader Dog Izzy, in guide dog harness, walk down a sidewalk with grass on either side and trees in the far background.I just completed my journey for my third dog, Izzy, with instructor Linda. She helped me to appreciate the giftedness of Leader Dogs and the commitment of the instructors role in preparing these dogs for us, as clients. Izzy too is very energetic, curious and well disciplined in her work. She was a perfect match (nice job matching me with Izzy, Linda).

After each journey I learned a perspective that needs to be said. The first journey gave me a greater perspective of what Leader Dog is all about. The second journey gave me another perspective of the commitment the instructors, resident workers, kitchen staff and housekeeping staff has for us as clients. The third journey gave me a keen perspective of what the result of having a Leader Dog means to my life.

What I want to share with all at Leader Dog is that while the instructor’s responsibility is to help us bond with the dog, but more importantly learn of the safety these dogs provide in our everyday paths.

What goes beyond what the instructors may believe is important to us as clients is having a Leader Dog provides opportunities that impact our work, education and social environments going forward. Many clients will achieve not only independence but maybe a better job opportunity. They can also complete their desires to further skills for new job opportunities and to have the ability to be involved in the social environments that they live in.

To all at Leader Dog, your commitment to us as clients and to the dogs you work with goes far beyond any imagination that impacts one’s life.

I believe I can speak for all clients, thank you!

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