The Leader Dogs for the Blind success story began in 1939, when it was founded by three Detroit-area Lions Club members. They began their new venture on a small, leased farm in Rochester Hills, Michigan and that’s where they remain today. Since the late 1930s, they have helped 14,000 clients. Almost 300 clients are served each year and more than 1,000 volunteers are involved with their services. The mission of Leader Dogs for the Blind is to empower people who are blind or visually impaired with lifelong skills for safe and independent daily travel. Leader dogs give clients the opportunity to venture out and become more independent in a world where travel has become increasingly complex. With several programs available, Leader Dogs is able to offer training that is personalized to each client’s individual needs.
What’s New at Leader Dogs for the Blind?
Leader Dogs is renovating their kennel into a Canine Development Center. Some portions of their kennel date back to 1960 and they wanted to create a space that would enhance and strengthen the training process for their dogs. Once complete, the new Canine Development Center will have a village type concept that will feature open housing, puppy and breeding areas, a modernized veterinary clinic and redesigned lobby. All of these changes will provide a better environment for the dogs on many levels.
Leader Dogs is also looking for puppy raisers. Those who love spending a lot of time with puppies and people can make a positive impact on the life of someone who is blind or visually impaired by volunteering for this special role. Volunteers are invited to attend puppy outings and are provided with a Puppy Counselor that is there to give support and instruction. When you open your home to a Future Leader Dog, a 12 – 15 month commitment is expected. Puppy raisers are responsible for housebreaking the puppies, teaching good manners, practicing basic commands and socializing. For more information about becoming a puppy raiser, click HERE.
Why Oakland County?
According to Director of Communications & Marketing, Rachelle Kniffen, Leader Dogs for the Blind loves being in Oakland County. She said, “The great thing about the Rochester area is that the community, people and businesses are so welcoming to us.” She told us that their location is perfect because they’re close to neighborhoods, dirt roads, animals, ditches, and different types of terrain that help them to assist their clients with guide dog training. The Rochester Hills location is ideal for getting to urban environments without having to go far and allows for them to train in Royal Oak, Birmingham and Detroit as well. Kniffen said the only thing they didn’t have close by was a revolving door, so they had one built on site to familiarize their clients and dogs with that type of entrance.
Leader Dogs for the Blind is continually working to provide the best environment for their clients and dogs. Knowing that their clients entrust their lives to their Leader Dogs, they need dogs that are not only obedient, but also able to think and make decisions. With the new Canine Development Center, they will be able to reduce stress in the kennels, maximize human interaction and provide an easier going experience for dogs in training. All of this will facilitate the enhancement of daily lives for clients who are blind or visually impaired. To learn more about the Canine Developement Center click HERE.