Leader Dog Update -- Issue 1 - 2008 Message from the President – Greg Grabowski
My First Days at Leader Dog
Learning the whole story What a great beginning to 2008! It’s not every year that you get to undertake a new adventure that includes great people, great programs, great dogs, and the ability to serve others – a complete package.
As a resident of Rochester Hills, I’ve been aware of Leader Dog for many years. I’ve been awed by the teams of students and dogs working on the streets and sidewalks around town. I thought I knew what went on every day at the corner of Rochester and Avon Roads – but I didn’t know the whole story. Leader Dog has already proven to be so much more than I originally thought. The man hours required to care for over 250 dogs in the kennel is considerable, the attention to detail to ensure each student’s dietary needs are met is deliberate, and the dedication of the staff as they strive to improve programs is unsurpassed. This is a unique place to be and an exciting organization to be a part of and to lead.
It’s been my pleasure to meet several Leader Dog graduates and learn about some of the ways they give back to Leader Dog. We have alumni serving on our Board, volunteering on committees, and spreading the word of Leader Dog throughout the United States and Canada. This issue of Update highlights just a few of these compelling individuals.
As my time with Leader Dog starts, I must take a moment to thank Past-President Bill Hansen for his 19 years of dedication, service and leadership to this wonderful organization. The care he gave to this office has made my transition much easier. I join the entire Leader Dog staff in wishing him a retirement full of excitement and relaxation.
I hope to meet many of you, both students and supporters, in the years to come. I look forward to joining the thousands of people who support the Leader Dog mission – to enhance the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired.
Our Aging Dogs
How to keep them healthy
David Smith, DVM
It can be difficult to look at your dog and see an aging pet, after all you see them every day and small differences may elude the eye. The fact is, your friend is getting older, and there are things you need to do to help continue their quality of life.
There are many aspects to caring for an aging dog. Home care should include grooming your dog regularly. Pay particular attention to changes in their skin and coat, new lumps, breath odor, ear discharge or odor, and eye discharge. Keep track of changes in their appetite, water consumption, urinary and bowel patterns or any new or unusual habits or symptoms. Significant changes require a call to your veterinarian.
The frequency of veterinary examinations should increase with age allowing your vet to find changes and abnormalities sooner. Your vet may suggest blood and urine tests to monitor organ systems and to help determine appropriate care. Dental disease is more common as pet’s age resulting in pain, tooth loss and breath odor. Dental infections may affect other body systems by spreading infection to the lungs, kidneys or other body systems. During your veterinary visits ask about home dental care.
Maintaining your dog’s ideal weight is important. Recent studies revealed that a dog kept at their optimal weight will live up to two years longer. Your veterinarian can help you determine the ideal weight for your dog and the amount of food required to maintain this weight. To keep your canine friend healthy during his later years, keep him fit and slim. Maintain good grooming and home dental programs, see your vet at regularly scheduled intervals and follow their advice on a customized health care plan to keep your dog healthy as long as possible.
How can I prepare to care for my dog during a disaster?
We’ve learned many lessons in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina – one of the most important is the need to be prepared for both ourselves and our pets. The best source of information on this subject is the Homeland Security website at www.ready.gov. Following their guidelines assures that your plans coordinate with federal government emergency plans.
To increase the likelihood that you will be reunited with your dog in case of mass evacuation, you should microchip your dog and register the microchip. All Leader Dogs are microchipped during training.
You may want to invest in a dog back pack to allow your dog (if physically capable) to carry his own emergency kit. Among other items, the kit should include: a photo of you and your dog together to establish ownership, a familiar toy or blanket to help reduce your dog’s stress, current rabies and vaccine records, a first aid kit, 3-day water supply (1 oz/pound/day) and a minimum 3-day food supply.
If you are a Leader Dog user, make sure you have your Leader Dog i.d. card and harness with you at all times. By law, service animals must be allowed in shelters; make sure you are equipped to show shelter staff that your dog is a Leader Dog. Also, it is important that your evacuation plan include a sighted individual due to the lack of verbal information that may be provided during an emergency situation. Planning and preparing for yourself and your pet now can be life-saving in the future.Puppy Class Field Trip
A trip to the Fire Station with the Central Illinois Puppy Raisers In 2007, Leader Dog graduate Jenny Andrews had a small kitchen fire in her home. Luckily she and her Leader Dog “Grant” were able to get out of the situation without harm. Jenny was impressed by the way Grant acted around the firefighters and immediately called Janice White, Grants’ puppy raiser.
“Jenny asked if Grant had ever been around firefighters before,” explains Janice, “and I told her about how we take the puppies to the fire station during their first year. I knew right then that it was a worthwhile practice that we’d keep doing every year.”
Introducing the puppies to the widest variety of situations and settings possible is a very important aspect of the puppy raisers job. The puppies are acclimated to the new surroundings in a calm and comforting manner which allows for a fun, positive experience. Consequently, once the dog is a full-grown Leader Dog, they are less likely to act fearful if they find themselves in the situation again.
Caption for photo of people and dogs in front of fire truck
Many of the puppy raisers that came to Fire Station #1 in Pekin, Illinois drove 2-3 hours to get there. Dave and Lori Johnson even flew in from Nebraska so the Leader Dog puppy they are raising, TJ, could experience the firefighters. Pictured from left to right: Tony Gimble with Purcell, Judy Thess with Sterling, Marcia Bedard with Conner, Dave Johnson with TJ, Fireman Dave with Lacy (puppy raiser: Janice White), Fireman Matt, Fireman Kevin and Paul Vehlow with Bradford.
Caption of photo of puppy and firefighter looking at each other through a firefighter’s mask
Fireman Dave takes the time to let TJ explore the sight and the smell of a firefighter’s mask. The more familiar the dog is with the equipment, the less likely they will be to act fearful if they encounter a firefighter in the future.
Caption of photo of puppy walking on floor grates
Paul Vehlow takes the opportunity to allow Bradford to walk on the grates in the floor of the fire station. Dogs can be leery of walking on surfaces that they are able to see through. This experience will help Bradford learn that “seeing through” doesn’t mean “falling through.”
Caption of photo of puppy and firefighter in gear
Future Leader Dog “Conner” decides it’s safe to take a closer look at this odd-looking human. The dogs are not only introduced to the sight of a firefighter in full equipment, but to the sounds of their voices coming from behind the mask and the noise of the air tanks.
Paul Teranes, Avril Rinn & Debbie Dayton Paul Teranes & Leader Dog “Duke”
Years on Board of Trustees: 10.5
Profession: circuit court judge (retired), board member for the Greater Detroit Agency for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Leader Dog User: 49.5 years Avril Rinn & Leader Dog “Bismarck”
Years on Board of Trustees: 1.5
Profession: IT support, computer & assistive technologies instructor,
life coach, freelance writer & web design Leader Dog User: 2.5 years
Debbie Dayton & Leader Dog “Patrick”
Years on Board of Trustees: 2.5
Profession: office manager (retired), president of Westland Lions Club
Leader Dog User: 6.5 years Why do you want/continue to be on the Board of Trustees?
Teranes: I wanted to give something back to LD and to participate in the good work that they do. I find the work very interesting, especially being a part of the Program Services Committee which deals with the constant efforts of LD to improve and expand their programs.
Rinn: I find it interesting and a way for me to make a contribution to LD. My trips to Michigan really put me in touch with LD students and all the exciting things LD is doing besides dog guide training.
Dayton: I know what it means to have this independence and what a blessing this is – and I want to help other people enjoy this blessing. I enjoy being on the Philanthropy Committee because I love raising funds to keep these programs going.
Do you feel being a LD user gives you a different perspective than other board members?
Teranes: I believe being a LD user does give me a different perspective because I have had the LD experience of going through the training and using a dog. This gives me a greater insight into the operation of the school and better knowledge of the programs. This knowledge helps when making decisions as a board member.
Rinn: I’m not sure being a graduate gives me a different perspective, but having a visual impairment does. I think having LD users on the board is important because we understand first hand how having a dog can improve your life. Having non-graduates on the board is crucial; to be honest, many of these people bring a wealth of expertise that most people who are blind do not have. I also think that variety is important.
Dayton: Most definitely. We are a reminder of what the purpose of LD is – we are a reality check and I can bring that to the board. I see things from a different viewpoint, I meet people everyday that want to know about LD and once learning about it want to donate. Being on the board and being abreast of what is happening at LD helps me when I talk to people in everyday life. I have more information to relate to the community.
What are you looking forward to for the future of LD?
Teranes: I am looking forward to the development and expansion of new programs, particularly in technology such as the Trekker program and the teaching of technical skills to the visually impaired so they can gain employment.
Rinn: I am thrilled that LD is now allowing younger students to acquire dog guides. I also think the Trekker program is amazing and I’m especially pleased about AMP and hope all of these programs continue to grow and expand. I think proper mobility skills are essential.
Dayton: I’m looking forward to continuing on with the leading edge approach that LD has adopted. I love that the school is so innovative and willing to jump in with new programs that other schools are thinking about but haven’t acted on.
Our Graduate Field Representatives
Spreading Inspiration and Information throughout the US and Canada
Videos, websites and, of course, Update, are great ways for Leader Dog to educate people on our programs and services. We can highlight individuals, their accomplishments and their partnership with their Leader Dog; but many times this story is better told by a person living the lifestyle. Who better to explain blindness than someone who is blind? Who better to explain the independence that comes with owning a Leader Dog than the person who relies on one on a daily basis?
This is the realm of our graduate field representatives, who speak on behalf of both LD and themselves. “The most important thing I do as a representative,” says Pauline Ulrey, “is inform people about LD and demonstrate independence by using my own Leader Dog.” Pauline received her first dog in 1963 and is currently working with her 7th dog, Gundy, traveling throughout the United States to speak to civic organizations such as the Lions Clubs and also attend conventions and conferences related to blind issues.
This past December, all twelve graduate field representatives came together on the LD campus to share ideas and learn first hand about the new programs we offer. The 3-day seminar proved enlightening for the reps as they learned about all aspects of LD including the puppy development program, philanthropy and plans for an updated website. But Leader Dog staff also found it a great educational experience. “I was expecting the field representatives to be excited about the seminar,” states Judy Campbell, director of education and community outreach, “what surprised me was the excitement of the staff to be able to sit face-to-face with new and seasoned Leader Dog users in one room and get feedback on what we are doing well – and where we can make improvements.”
If you are interested in having a LD representative speak to your organization, please contact Judy Campbell at 888-777-5332 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Quotes inserted throughout the article
“There is nothing more thrilling than to help a person and their family members realize that blindness can be nothing more than an inconvenience. To connect with someone and help them understand that they are entitled to their dreams and all the challenges that life has to offer.” – Buss Brauer
“If at anytime you have felt dependent and had to wait for someone to help you get somewhere, those days could be over with a (Leader) dog.” – Bunny Tabatt
“I enjoy being a Graduate Field Rep because an eye condition took my sight, but Leader Dog gave me back my independence. I feel the need to give back to the organization that helped me to grow.” – Diane Bergeron
“One day after work my dog, Jack, and I headed for our bus stop. During the day the stop had been moved and the sidewalk was torn up with barricades around it. Despite all this, when I gave Jack the command to “Find the bus,” he walked me safely around all the obstacles to where the bus was now waiting. As the driver opened the bus door and we stepped up, we were greeted with cheers and applause. The driver said, “That is one fantastic dog.” I couldn’t agree more.” – Carroll Jackson
Photos of Graduate Field Representatives and their Leader Dogs at the bottom of the page include: Kevin O’Callahan & Flynn, Bunny Tabatt & Baker, Mike Cox & Ace, Diane Bergeron & Maximo, Wanda Scroggins & Gibson, Liza Bruce & Baxter, Len Quinn & Ginger, Linda McLane & Disney, Grace Scullin & Balto, Carroll Jackson & Jack, Buss Brauer & Tucker, Pauline Ulrey & Gundy
Instructor Carrie Pryce
Alton Daschofsky & "Princess" Chocolate Lab
Sidney Vanlaningham & "Sugar" Yellow Lab (Puppy Raiser: Carol & Michael Beavnier)
Jerry Manter & "Obediah" Black Lab (Puppy Raiser: Curtis Fort)
Rebecca Stewart & "London" Golden Retriever (Puppy Raiser: Geoff Gamsby)
Daniel Sisco & "Frazier" Golden Retriever (Puppy Raiser: Mary & Ken Blain)
Team Supervisor Dayton Johnson
Sean Tomello & "Ranger" Golden Retriever(Puppy Raiser: Stephanie Sonnenberg & Richard Hoon)
Call for resumes Are you a Leader Dog user that is interested in providing feedback on our programs and helping to keep us informed on new needs and expectations within the visually impaired community? If so, you may want to apply to be on our Consumer Advisory Team (CAT).
The CAT meets via teleconference four times a year to discuss such issues as the effects that hybrid cars and traffic roundabouts have on people with visual impairments. All new CAT members must commit to a 3-year term with the team.
If you are interested in joining CAT, please send your resume to Judy Campbell at email@example.com no later than March 31, 2008. Resumes should reflect the demonstrated skills of teamwork, oral and written communication, task completion and computer proficiency sufficient to receive and complete assignments via email.
The three new CAT members will be selected by the Directors of Training, Technology, and Community Outreach, along with the three outgoing CAT members. Selections will be made by June 30, 2008.
News from and for our Alumni
Our Consumer Services Department Undergoes Restructuring To better serve our students, we have recently restructured our Consumer Services Department. Under the new design students are assigned a dedicated consumer service coordinator as their main contact through the application process and for any post-graduation issues. This new structure will allow our coordinators and students to develop a familiarity which will result in improved service. The coordinator assignments are: Mike Stasiuk – last names A-F; Tracy Griffin – last names G-N; and Kathy Stauffer – last names O-Z.
Bill Carty was recently promoted to General Manager and Vice President of the Technical Services Sector Systems Support Group of Northrop Grumman Corporation, a global defense and technology company. Bill will lead the group that provides base support, infrastructure services, range operations and maintenance services throughout the United States and internationally. Bill recently received his second Leader Dog, “Bruce,” and anticipates that both of them will be doing quite a bit of traveling with his new position.
Leader Dog Alumnus Jeff Senge wrote the following to our president, “I would like to thank you and your organization for providing me with an opportunity to participate in the last Trekker Training class…. No other program, that I’m aware of, does such a comprehensive job of assisting folks to master the Trekker GPS device. Leader Dog has hit the nail squarely on the head with their Trekker Training program. I will be recommending it to others I think could benefit from participating in it…. there are lots of support staff I would like to thank. From those who cooked and served our meals, to those who made sure we had fresh towels and clean rooms, please let them know I appreciate all they did to make Leader Dog “Hobbit” and my stay comfortable.
Leader Dog is a first class organization and you can be proud of all those who work to support its mission.”
Congratulations to Wanda Scroggins on her recent graduation from Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. She received her Bachelors Degree in Communications with a minor in Rehabilitation Services and is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. Wanda was lead across the stage to receive her diploma by her Leader Dog “Gibson.”
This past November, long-time Leader Dog user Lilia Gonzalez Holguin passed away. She was the first dog guide user in Latin America originally receiving a Leader Dog in 1948. Throughout her life Lilia had six Leader Dogs, most recently “Tess” who was at her side in the hospital in Mexico City. After attending Leader Dog for the first time, Lilia went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree from Barnard College and a Master’s Degree from Columbia University. She then returned to Mexico to teach at an all-women’s college.
Carlos Gallusser, Leader Dog Field Representative, delivered Leader Dog “Tess” to Lilia in 2001. He held her in very high regard stating, “Lilia’s pace may have slowed down, but she was feisty as always. Professor Lilia is well known and highly regarded by the Lions in Mexico. Her passing is a great loss for all of us, but especially for all of those holding the harness of a dog guide.”
Our Biggest Success Yet! With over 670 people in attendance, this year’s annual Lead in the Holidays fundraiser was our largest ever! And along with a record attendance came record revenue of $163,000.
Held for the second year at the luxurious Royal Park Hotel in Rochester, the event brought together puppies and patrons in luxury. “The Royal Park gives us not only the space needed for an event of this size,” says Special Events Manager Brandy Hirschlieb, “It gives us a beautiful atmosphere for this event that kicks off the holiday season.”
This year’s event, chaired by Faith Sutkus and Dr. Jeff Haddad, featured fabulous hors d’oeuvres from some of Metro Detroit’s leading restaurants. Among the most sought after silent auction items were paintings and photographs created and donated by Leader Dog alumni.
We would like to acknowledge the generosity of our title sponsor, The Messner Group of Morgan Stanley; presenting sponsor, EnTrust Capital, Inc.; and our honorary sponsor, Nestlé Purina.
Thank You Purina
Leader Dogs for the Blind gives a heartfelt thank you to the Nestlé Purina Corporation for their generous donation of all of our dog food for calendar year 2008. We feed Purina Pro Plan to our dogs in training and suggest Pro Plan for working Leader Dogs both nationally and internationally.
During a recent tour of our facility, David Dufault of Nestlé Purina said, “After learning about the organization, we realized that to people who are blind and visually impaired, their Leader Dogs mean everything. Pro Plan helps keep these dogs up and going for their owners, and that’s something we are really proud of.”
Leader Dog’s New President and CEO
Get to know Greg Grabowski
After looking nationwide for a new president and chief executive officer, the search came back to Rochester – less than 5 miles away to be exact. The search ended when the Leader Dog Board of Trustees hired Gregory Grabowski as our new president and chief executive officer. “We are pleased to have Greg at the helm of Leader Dog,” said Chuck Schmidt, chairman of the board. “He is an experienced, talented leader who has a true passion for his work and the vision it takes to make improvements and continue moving forward.”
After coming to Rochester, Michigan to attend Oakland University, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in General Studies, Greg stayed and put down roots. He currently resides locally with his wife, Christina, and their three boys. Is there a dog in the family? “Not yet,” admits Greg, “but ask me again in six months and you’ll probably get a different answer.”
Greg comes to LD with a wealth of experience in non-profit management, communications, strategic planning and philanthropy. Most recently he was the vice president of development for the National Hospice Foundation; prior to that he was the senior vice president & chief marketing and community relations officer for Hospice of Michigan. Greg became known within the regional non-profit and business communities after receiving The Crain’s Detroit Business “40 under 40” award in 2005. He has been highlighted in The Chronicle of Philanthropy for a board game modeled on Monopoly that he helped develop which encouraged companies to use real money to sponsor Hospice of Michigan. Greg is also a graduate of Leadership Detroit, a program that develops leadership skills and knowledge of issues in southeast Michigan.
After an intense first month on the job which included learning all aspects of our business (meeting with staff, walking under blindfold and working in the kennel, among many other activities), Greg is settled and ready to start spreading his enthusiasm and fresh perspective throughout Leader Dog. “I’m honored to have been selected to lead such an extraordinary organization which is clearly backed by strong staff and hundreds of extremely dedicated volunteers and donors. I’m looking forward to working with everyone in the Leader Dog community as we strive to enhance the lives of people who are visually impaired,” said Greg.
Still time to get a tax break
Roberta Trzos, Director of Major and Planned Gifts
It’s tax time again...
Would you like to avoid paying taxes on your IRA withdrawal? You can if you are 70 ½ or older. When you have the funds from your withdrawal sent directly to Leader Dogs for the Blind, you will not be taxed on the withdrawal. A double benefit is that you will be helping Leader Dog enhance the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired.
If you would like to discuss this, or other planned gift opportunities available at Leader Dog, please call me at 248.659.5014 or contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you and showing you how you can make a positive impact on the lives of others.
The Power of the Small Gift
Melissa Weisse, Director of Philanthropy
Often, I am asked if a small gift truly makes a difference to the work of Leader Dogs for the Blind. My answer is unequivocally, yes; gifts of all sizes are absolutely essential to sustaining the daily operations that make the Leader Dog mission a reality.
Unrestricted gifts are the lifeblood of Leader Dog. They allow us to fund critical needs such as maintaining our residence facility where our students stay for 26 days while they learn to navigate with a Leader Dog. These gifts also enable us to maintain our kennel where future Leader Dogs live during their training. The maintenance of our training vehicles, student buses, technology lab and veterinary clinic, amongst other programs, are all sustained by unrestricted gifts.
Through the monthly giving program, smaller donations add up to a substantial annual contribution. Our monthly giving program allows you to give a set amount each month, or at an interval you select, by debit, credit card, or direct withdrawal from your bank account.
Your gift will be deducted automatically to ensure consistent funding for our vital programs. Please visit our website at www.leaderdog.org to learn more about this convenient and flexible way to support Leader Dogs for the Blind. Thank you so very much for your continued support and loyalty to the Leader Dog mission.
Holiday Card Contest Winner
LD Graduate Laura Landry Many of you may have already seen the beautiful picture that was chosen to be the 2007 Leader Dog holiday card. If you have, you already know that the picture of Leader Dog “Willow” was taken by his owner, Laura Landry. Laura has been legally blind since birth and credits her sister for getting her into photography when she gave Laura a camera for her 14th birthday.
Laura is a 2002 graduate of Leader Dog that lists photography as just one of the many activities she enjoys. She is also an avid “blogger” who writes about herself and her dogs on her website. The following is an excerpt from her blog:
“I have a ‘dog’s eye view’ of the world as I rely on the eyes and intelligence of my Leader Dog Willow, a female, yellow (liver-nosed), Labrador Retriever to lead me through the chaos of my life. I also have a yellow (liver-nosed) pet Lab, Stella, who is a crazy, happy, never-ending bundle of energy. I have two physics degrees, and a great love of astronomy (despite my inability to look up at the night sky and see anything but darkness). Other loves include crochet, music, photography, books, and writing.”
This year’s card was extremely well received and we have already had many inquiries from people wishing to purchase the card for 2008. The cards are available for $15.00 per pack of 20 cards/22 envelopes and can be purchased by calling 248-651-9011.
Calendar of Events Students
March 3 Trekker class begins
March 9 Dog Guide class 08-09 begins
March 9 Advanced Computer Skills class begins
March 9 Accelerated Mobility Program class begins
March 28 Trekker class begins
April 6 Dog Guide class 08-10 begins
April 6 Advanced Computer Skills class begins
April 13 Accelerated Mobility Program class begins
April 25 Trekker class begins
May 4 Dog Guide class 08-11 begins
May 11 Accelerated Mobility Program class begins
May 18 Basic Computer Skills class begins
May 23 Trekker class begins
March 18 O & M Professional Trekker seminar begins
February 24 Wine Tasting 3rd Annual at CINQ in Royal Oak, MI
June 22 Walk-A-Thon 5th Annual at Bloomer Park in Rochester Hills. MI