Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Raising thinkers

October 23, 2014

Before getting the teams up to work, Deb has lots to share. She reports on the kennel project that is under construction at Leader Dogs for the Blind; she talks about the breeding program and what happens to the puppies when they return to Rochester Hills; she describes guide work and what it means when the blind or visually impaired handler cannot support the decisions the dog has to make.

"We need forward-thinking, independent-thinking dogs," she said.

Many of the men express interest in continuing to raise puppies once they get out. Deb leads a discussion about what raising a puppy on the outside entails, how they will have to deal with veterinarian and food expenses, and transportation when picking up and returning a puppy.

The men nod their heads when she suggests they take time to get their lives in order first. These inmate raisers are thinking, too.

Three men sit on stools and are leaning forward and looking at the two black lab puppies and one chocolate lab puppy  lying on the floor between their legs. The man on the left is wearing a long sleeve white shirt and peach sweat pants, his hands are massaging the black lab's shoulders. The puppy is looking at the camera. The man in the middle is wearing the blue prison uniform and is reaching down to the black lab puppy at his feet with his left hand, which is holding an antler. His right arm is resting on his right knee. The african american man on the right is wearing the blue prison uniform and is bent over with his left forearm on his left knee. He is reaching down with his right hand and holding the left front paw of a small black lab at his feet. The labe is lying on her right side facing the camear.
Three puppies and their raisers share a moment. Ro, on the right, is handling FLD GeeGee's front paw. GeeGee is Ro's second puppy; he raised FLD Sammy, who, at the time of this post. is in training at Leader Dog. Ro says that even though he thinks Sammy was the best, GeeGee has stolen his heart.

Time to work. Deb has a fun exercise planned. She recreates an outside puppy outing she and FLD Jedi attended at Detroit Metro Airport. The puppies will practice sit or down/stays, recalls, handling, and settling.

We set two chairs at one end of the room to simulate a metal detector. One at a time, each inmate raiser puts his puppy in a sit or down stay in the middle of the room. Here he removes his shoes and the puppy's collar and leash. 

A man dressed in maroon sweats is standing in the middel of a room, he is taking his shoes off. In front of him is sitting a golden retriever puppy. The puppy is facing him and wearing the blue Future Leader Dog puppy. On the floor by the man's shoes is the puppy's leash. In the background three other men are sitting on stools and facing the man that is standing.
Abe removes his shoes while FLD Andie holds a sit/stay.

The raiser leaves the puppy to walk through the chair-metal-detector, then turns and calls his puppy to come. 

A yellow lab/golden retriever puppy wearing the blue Future Leader Dog jacket is walking away from the camera toward two light blue plastic chairs. Just beyond the chairs is a man wearing a white t-shirt and maroon pants. The man is facing the  puppy and looking down at him. In the background are three men and three women sitting or standing and watching the puppy.
FLD Henry comes readily to Matt, who is waiting on the other side of the "metal detector."

Another inmate, posing as a NSA agent, pats them both down. Once cleared, the inmate puts his shoes and the puppy's collar and leash back on and is shuffled into the corner to wait.

Two men in the foregrond are running their hands on a black lab puppy. The man on the left of the puppy is kneeling on the tile floor, he is wearing a white t-shirt and blue prison pants and a blue ball cap. the man on the right of the puppy is wearing a green sweatshirt and the blue prison pants, he is bent over at the waits over the puppy. There are two men and one woman along the wall on the far left side, standing with puppies, and three men and two women in the far background.
"NSA agent" Eric checks out FLD Dylan while Dave, the pup's handler, rehooks his leash.
A low shot of two men patting down a black lab puppy. The man on the left is standing and leaning over the puppy, he is wearing a white t-shirt and blue prison pants; you cannot see his head but his arm is covered with tatooes. The man on the right is kneeling on his right knee and his left hand is feeling the puppy's throat. He is wearing a white t-shirt and blue prison pants and a blue ball cap. There is a man in the background standing against the wall with a german shepherd on his left side.
FLD Ashley gets checked over.
A man is standing on the left with his arms stretched out, facing a group of men (and one woman) and their puppies. Several of the men are bending over to settle their puppies, they are in a tight corner of a room, with a glass wall and door on the left and a white brick wall on the right.
"NSA agent' Eric keeps the group sequestered in the corner.


October 23, 2014

Deb Donnelly's visit with the men in Pike Unit begins with an announcement by ARUS Rob. Abe, who is quick to introduce himself with the phrase, "I raise champions," has passed his GED!

Four men are seating on lunch table stools facing the room. The man on the left is wearing maroon sweats and has his hands on his thighs. Between his feet is a white colored golden retriever puppy, lying with his chin on the tile floor between his front paws facing the camera. The next man to the right is also wearing maroon sweats and he is leaning forward with his elbows on his thighs with his hands clasped between his legs. The next man is wearing a white t-shirt and peach sweatpans and is facing left. A black lab puppy is lying between his feet facing left, this puppy is wearing a blue working jacket. The african american man on the right is partly out of view, he is wearing a white t-shirt and blue prison pants. He is also leaning forward looking to the right with his elbows on his thighs with his hands clasped.
Abe (left) is currently raising FLD Andie, the golden retriever that is lying between his feet. His last puppy, FLD Zella, returned to Leader Dogs for the Blind in April. In September she was matched with her new person!   

Each prison facility sets its own requirements for inmates to participate in the Leader Dogs for the Blind puppy-raising program. One prerequisite here at Chippewa is that the inmate must have a high school diploma or GED. ARUS Rob made an exception for Abe. He saw potential in the young man, who had been working hard to get his GED.

Applause was freely given.

As usual, I hand FLD Henry's leash to an inmate so I can concentrate on taking photos. I am impressed by the patience of these men. Matt is eager to handle my barking puppy, even if Henry can be a handful.

A yellow lab/golden retriever mix puppy is lying on a tile floor between the feet of an inmate, whose legs and feet are only in view on the left. The man is wearing maroon sweat panst and white tennis shoes and his holding the leash to the puppy. The puppy is facing out to the right and is wearing the baby blue Future Leader Dog jacket. He is busy chewing on an antler that is between his front paws. In the background is a yellow lab that is lying on a blue mat. She is wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandana and has her head up looking toward the other puppy.
FLD Henry is busy with the antler that Matt gave him to chew. FLD Adell is interested.

A man wearing a white long sleeved t-shirt and maroon sweat pants and white tennis shoes is leaning down and petting the yellow lab/golden retriever puppy that is lying between his feet. The puppy is on his left side facing to the right, with a grey mat and antler next to him. The yellow lab puppy behind him is also lying on her left side. There are two other puppies in the far background. One is a black lab standing up and facing away from the camera, the other is a german shepherd lying facing the camera.
Matt does a good job helping FLD Henry settle.

The yellow lab/golden mix puppy is now on his right side with his left paw on the face of the yellow lab beyond him. This lab is lying on her left side facing him. She is also wearing the blue working jacket. There is now streaks of sunshine across the floor.
FLDs Henry and Adell share a cuddle.

The yellow lab/golden mix puppy has his head up now and is leaning back away from the yellow lab on the right. The lab is still lying donw, but her head is up too and she has her mouth open almost over the snout of the puppy on the left.
Henry leans away from Adell's advances.
A floor level shot of the lab/golden puppy lying on the grey mat between the feet of his handler. The puppy has his head resting on the floor next to the man's right foot and has his eyes closed. The man is scratching the puppy's head with his left hand.
Matt regroups FLD Henry and helps him relax.

A man wearing a white t-shirt and green pants and a blue ball cap is sitting on the tile floor on the left with his legs crossed. He is facing right. His arms are stretched out resting on his knees. In front of him is the lab/golden puppy, who is lying on the floor facing the camera, but his head is turned to the left as he chews on the antler, which is being held in the man's left hand. In the background are the legs of the man with maroon pants and white tennis shoes, and the yellow lab. The lab is lying on her blue mat with her chin over her right leg looking toward the other puppy.
Harlan takes a seat on the floor with FLD Henry and coaxes him to chew the antler instead of causing trouble while Deb chats with the teams.

Deb shares a story about one of the men from the program who has been out on parole for a few months. Scott had raised Drummond, one of the first puppies to come to Chippewa. The big golden returned to Leader Dog shortly before Scot was paroled.

Unfortunately, Drummond was recently career-changed for anxiety-produced behaviors. Because Scott was now free, he was able to adopt Drummond. "I asked him what was the best thing about being out," Deb says, "and he answered, 'Food, food, food!'"

The guys laugh in agreement. 

We are all disappointed in Drummond's career-change, but these puppies will end up just where they need to be.

A floor level shot of a large german shepherd puppy lying on the floor. He is facing the camera and his tongue is just coming out. He is wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandana. The background is out of focus - there are three men sitting with puppies between their feet. They are wearing white t-shirts and the blue prison pants.
FLD Jedi seems bored with all the talk.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

UP presence revisted

October 22, 2014
en route to the eastern UP

We have the rest of the day to make the 200+ mile drive to where we'll stay in the Soo. Deb's training session at the Chippewa Correctional Facility starts in the morning.

The drop-dead gorgeous fall day begs for sight-seeing. You haven't seen "blue" until you've witnessed the sky above the pristine forests lining Lake Superior.

A shot looking straight up into the deep blue sky under a canopy of brilliant yellow leaves.

I lead the way to Munising Falls. We pose our puppies, looping their leashes through the fence in front of the falls.

A woman wearing blue jeans and a blue jacket is standing on the left with a smart phone in her hands. She is facing a german shepherd that is sitting in front of a wooden fence, beyond which is a tall waterfall over stratiated rocks. On the right is a small golden/lab mix puppy sitting and looking at the camera. Both puppies are wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandanas. The leaves on the trees on either side of the watefall are bright yellow. There are leaves on the wooden platform where the puppies are sitting.
Deb takes a photo of FLD Jedi while FLD Henry sits...

A close up shot of the golden/lab puppy sitting in front of the wooden fence. The puppy is looking at the camera, with his tongue just barely stickling out. He is wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandana.

I don't think FLD Henry is happy about me taking so many photos. Here is an interesting series of shots - can you read his body language?
Another close shot of the same puppy, with more of the forest background visible behind him. Now his tongue is further out and his head and ears are drooping.
He's getting droopy...
The same close shot of the same puppy, but now the puppy is facing left and having a huge yawn with his eyes closed.
FLD Henry. Not amused.

I suppose he thinks the stairs are more fun.

A shot from above, looking down at the golden/lab puppy sitting on a wood staircase, littered wtih yellow and brown leaves.

Later we find more photo ops on the Lake Superior shore.

A german shepherd is standing on the left, tied by his leash to a gigantic piece of driftwood. Behind him is Lake Superior. He is looking at the camera, and wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandana.
A majestic FLD Jedi next to a majestic piece of driftwood.

A black and white photo of the same piece of driftwood, with a small yellow puppy sticking his head out from behind it.

A landscape shot of the sun setting behind a tall bluff on the left, down to a beach and water on the right, gentle waves kissing the shore.
And the sun sets on Lake Superior.