BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
Raising puppies for Leader Dogs for the Blind is hard work.
“But it’s fun work,” said Ginger Rossow, who with her husband, Glenn, has raised eight Labrador Retriever puppies so far for the Rochester based non-profit group. “We’re kind of hooked, and we love labs.”
They have been raising pups for 10 years, always female labs, half white and half black. They joined in 2006 after talking to a puppy raiser who happened to be walking past their home.
“We had no idea what it was. We didn’t know it existed,” said Ginger, who lives in White Lake. “I thought it was neat, something I’d like to do.”
Their current puppy is Montafon, an eight-month-old yellow lab.
“She’s learning all her obedience skills in all different environments, smells, surfaces, stairs, noises,” Ginger said. “We have a class in downtown Clarkston once a month, walk them through town and the park to get them used to people.”
The Rossows have three dogs in their household, Montafon, Garmisch, who they trained as a puppy and took back after a career change, and Bamph, who retired after eight years as a leader dog.
The puppies, who they name after their favorite ski resorts, have helped people around the world. Their first went to a blind college student in Taiwan, and second to Des Moines, Iowa. One of their puppies became a “breeding stock,” chosen for superior qualities.
“This is very rewarding, so worthwhile,” Ginger said. “They change people’s lives. People who aren’t comfortable getting out, they’re given independence.”
They have also been volunteer puppy counselors since 2011, meeting with puppy raisers to see how they are doing, and hosting classes twice a month.
Leader Dogs depends on volunteers to raise the puppies until they are about 10-12 months old.
“We always need puppy raisers,” Ginger said.
Then, the dogs go to service dog training at the Rochester center.
“It’s a great organization, from the top down, everyone is passionate about the work,” she said.
For more information, check www.leaderdog.org
BY PHIL CUSTODIO