Saturday, May 2, 2015

"R" is not for "18th"

March 30, 2015

Leader Dogs for the Blind's prison puppy-raising program at the Chippewa Correctional Facility has now been in operation for over a year and a half. The first puppies have returned to Leader dogs to meet their destiny. Like puppies that are raised on the outside, some of these inside puppies "graduated" and were placed with clients as working Leader Dogs, some found other jobs (one became a bed-bug detector!), others were "career-changed" for medical or other reasons (one was able to return to his raiser who is now on parole).

As we like to say, each dog ends up just where it needs to be.

The program has grown, and Tammy and I have not been visiting the prisons each month, so it is difficult for me to keep track of the teams. I remember when it was decided that the puppies raised in the Baraga Correctional Facility would be named "alphabetically." I wasn't sure what to think about that practice, as raisers in the Chippewa Correctional Facility were free to name their puppies however they chose.

Now I see that naming alphabetically can make it easier to remember exactly how many puppies have been raised.

Before we can do any training, Tammy presents FLD Rebel, the latest addition to Unit 8. If Chippewa had followed Baraga's method of naming, I could assume that Rebel is their 18th puppy. But they didn't so I don't know for sure - I think he might actually be their 23nd puppy!

At any number, the "hand off" is always fun...

Two men are facing the camera, a woman is approaching from behind them just over the shoulder of the man on the left. The man on the left is wearing a blue short-sleeved shirt and is bald with a gray beard. The man on the right is wearing an oranged jacket and glasses. Both men are smiling.
Rial (right), FLD Rebel's main raiser and his assistant, Pick (left) wait with their back turned toward the door as Tammy brings in FLD Rebel.

The woman who was approaching is handing a small black lab puppy over the right shoulder of the man wearing an orange jacket. The man is leaning his head to his right against the puppy's head. The puppy's front paws are resting on the man's shoulder.
Following the tradition started in the Ford Dodge Correctional Facility in Iowa, Tammy hands FLD Rebel over the shoulder of his raiser.

The man dressed in blue on the left is now looking at the black lab puppy, which is being held by the man on the right. The man on the left is petting the puppy under it's chin with his right hand. The man on the right is holding the puppy's left paw in his left hand and lookng down at it.
Assistant raiser Pick meets FLD Rebel. Rial looks like a father counting the number of toes on his newborn.

The man on the left has looked up to the camera with a surprised and excited look on his face while he continues to pet the lab puppy with his right hand. The man on the right is holding the puppy in his right arm and holding the puppy's front paw with his left hand. The puppy is snuggled into the man on the right's chest while looking at the man on the left, his eyes wide open.
Pick has come a long way. He joined the program as a self-proclaimed "helper." He wanted to be involved, but did not want to raise a puppy himself. He ran for poop bags, he cleaned up messes, he participated in all of our training sessions. I was glad to see that he was finally going to serves as FLD Rebel's assistant raiser.

The man dressed in orange is holding the lab puppy with his right arm. The man and the puppy are both wide-eyed, looking toward the camera.
The eyes have it! Rial and Rebel both look like they are not too sure of what they have gotten themselves into.

The man dressed in blue is now cradling the puppy in his left arm and holding the puppy's body with his right hand. The man and puppy are looking to the right. In the background are two men sitting on lunchroom stools with puppies lying on the floor at their feet. The woman and another man are standing behind them looking over paperwork. These people are slightly out of focus.
Pick shows off FLD Rebel to the others.

This is a close up shot of the man dressed in blue holding the puppy close to his face. The man is looking down at the puppy and the puppy is looking at the camear. Someone else's hand is petting the puppy behind his left ear from the right. The puppy's left paw is stretched out toward the camera.
FLD Rebel is in good hands. He came to Chippewa with a flaw, a small bump on his head that was treated by the veterinarians at Leader Dogs. The inmates showed concern, but overlooked the bare spot on the little guy's head and thought him adorable anyway.

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