This entry in the Voices of the Leader Dog Community was submitted by Lion Alescia “AJ” Johns, who titled her piece “Pauline’s Big Adventure.” The person she is referring to is LDB client Pauline Ulrey. Pauline has been living life with a Leader Dog by her side for 59 years – the longest of any current Leader Dog client!
For several years Pauline was a LDB graduate field representative, which is referenced in one of the posts. In this position, Pauline traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada educating people about Leader Dog, our programs and our services. She has been, and still is, very active in Lions Club International and has spoken with thousands of Lions about how their support of Leader Dog helps people who are visually impaired.
It is said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with but one step. This particular travel adventure was begun decades ago by Lion Pauline. She had already visited forty-nine of the fifty US states plus Puerto Rico and Canada. Many of the visits were accomplished in her capacity as a Graduate Field Representative for Leader Dogs for the Blind. For decades she attended conventions and meetings, educating Lions and other individuals about the advantages of supporting Leader Dog as well as helping to connect clients to the services that Leader Dog could provide for them. Over the course of Lion Pauline’s illustrious career, she has always taken her Leader Dogs on these working trips. Now, with her tenth dog Leader Dog (LD) Satchmo, it was time to finish her quest to travel to her only unvisited state: Rhode Island. It is located around nine hundred miles from Indianapolis where Pauline lives.
The road trip was organized to take four of us (Lion Pauline, Leader Dog Satch, fellow Southport Lion AJ Johnson and our driver R. David Moran) on a whirlwind journey to and from Narragansett Rhode Island leaving Monday, May 23 and arriving back home on Thursday, May 26. A rental car was reserved, hotel reservations were made, and we waited with growing anticipation as the departure date approached. We had made the decision to use the trip as a fundraiser so an informational letter had been sent to the Multiple District 25 (IN) leadership in the hope that Indiana clubs would make donations to Leader Dog in honor of Lion Pauline. With the assistance of Lions Clubs International, we were able to contact the Lions Club in Narragansett and spoke to their incoming President Eric Menke. Narragansett Lions Club decided to organize a reception to recognize and celebrate Lion Pauline’s achievement. Through Lion Eric, we were able to extend an invitation to Rhode Island District 42 Governor Sally Schroth to join the party. The Narragansett Lions Club is the largest club in New England with over 225 members.
The pizza party/reception was held at Arturo Joe’s Italian Restaurant. Everyone was introduced all around and several gifts were exchanged. Narragansett Lions Club had made a substantial donation to Leader Dog in Lion Pauline’s honor and now gifted her a beautiful artisan necklace of Sea Glass gems. An off shoot of the Narragansett Lions Club, the Rhode Island Visually Impaired Club (R.I.V.I.C.) gifted us with lovely polo shirts. Lion Pauline was interviewed by Mr. Jack Caswell, a local newspaper reporter, who stayed to listen as Lion Pauline spoke to the group about her life and then about Leader Dogs for the Blind. Once everyone’s questions were answered, we returned to The Shore House for photos and rest.
In our room, the entertainment began as we realized that the pedestal beds were so high that even LD Satch couldn’t jump up, much less Lion Pauline or myself. A quick call to the front desk brought two different sizes of high-quality dog beds to the room. The proper sized bed insured that LD Satch would be comfortable for the night. Lion Pauline and I then set about trying to get ourselves into our beds. This was the challenging part since neither one of us can high jump. We finally figured out that the decorative rails at the head of the bed were secure enough to allow us to pull ourselves into the beds hand over hand. We both agree that had the floors been carpet instead of tile, the American Ninja Warrior strength routine would have been unnecessary. Later Lion Pauline confessed that she had begun to wonder if she was going to have to share the dog bed with LD Satch! LOL.
After a very restful night, we began to pack for the return trip home when the fire alarm went off. Someone had managed to ignite the hotel dumpster, thereby causing a response from the fire department. Just another unique experience to add to the trip. Lion Eric had invited us to breakfast at the Old Mountain Lanes that morning. This is a local bowling alley/coffee shop with excellent food, and it was a great way to end our visit.
The trip was just under two thousand miles, and we really enjoyed the entire experience. Thanks to the generosity of Lions, $1,840 was raised in Lion Pauline’s name for Leader Dog. I would like to thank the following special people for their help in making this amazing trip a reality. Driver extraordinaire R. David Moran, Lion Mike Ault, the entire Southport Lions Club, PDG Paul Russell, the helpful staff at Lions Clubs International, incoming Narragansett Lions Club President Eric Menke, Mrs. Sandy Menke for the beautiful hand-made corsage, MD25 Lions especially PCC Keith Thomas, PDG Isabel Atchison, PDG Doug Eversole, PDG Terry Marker, 25 F PDG Jeff Locke, Rhode Island District 42 Governor Sally Schroth, Rhode Island Visually Impaired (Lions) Club (R.I.V.I.C.) founders Lions Bill Hawkins and Donald Youch for the very nice polo shirts and the following Narragansett Lions and friends who joined the previously named individuals at the reception: Reporter Jack Caswell, Lion President Eric Menke, Mrs. Sandy Menke, Past Club President Lion Sue Wright, Lions Paul Cannon, Alvin Gabrilowitz and Rob Sanchez. Last but certainly not least, Lion Kathleen Breen of Leader Dogs for the Blind whose support has been both substantial and essential.