November 2000

Dear Mom,
I'm doing great, how about you? Thanks for the advice on how to handle that "come" command, but I think I still like my way better; you know, run like crazy in the other direction grab something fun like the TV remote control and see if I can get Miss Ami to chase me. Even if she doesn't come after me, she tries the COME thing again and gives me a kibble when I show up. Now that I've figured out the drill, I drop whatever I snatched, come, grab the kibble, and take off again before she can snatch me by the collar.

Dish towels are fun, but she won't chase me for those. The remote doesn't get her to play until I start changing the channels. Quilting fabric gets her every time. Drops whatever she's doing, starts screaming like a banshee, and tears after me like I had stolen the crown jewels. She'll even play on all fours under the dining room table for fabric. Go figure. I can't imagine why she cares if I chew it up. All she's gong to do is cut it up into little pieces and then sew it back together again anyway. I know, I've watched her.

So far the only thing I'm not too fond of racing off with are these things Miss Jennie and Mr. Steve play with. It looks like they'd be easy to carry and I can stick the skinny part in my mouth real easy, but for some reason I just can't run as fast with one of those in my mouth as I can with the other stuff.

I also find cool stuff to play with in the office. So far I haven't been able to swallow anything yet, but I'm workin' on it. There's some stuff called Styrofoam. I don't particularly like to eat it, so I just stick it under my top lip and let it hang out of my mouth a little. No matter now much you drool, that stuff never gets soggy.

I like the cardboard they wrap fabric on too. Delicious but not very portable. Too much wind resistance to try and run with it, plus any time you get near a door it sets off some kind of force field. Wham! I haven't been able to make it through a doorway yet.

Mom, have you been watching the election returns on TV? Isn't it fun?! All those paper ballots. I bet I could really help those poor people down in Florida with all the counting. If I got a hold of the ballot just right I'm sure I could punch holes for BOTH candidates at the same time, too. That would help them out, wouldn't it?!

I voted you know. Yup, sure did. I stood in line with Miss Ami for many long times practicing my "sit," "down," and "stay." One lady behind me said I was more entertaining than the candidates. I watched Miss Ami sign in and then I went right into the voting booth with her. I waited patiently while she voted and I got a sticker when we were done. I wore it for the rest of the day.

The really big deal this month was my airplane ride. Miss Ami had a trip planned to the San Antonio Quilters' Guild and it was a double connect from Flint, through Detroit and Houston, and finally to San Antonio. There was a really long connection time in Detroit, so she made arrangements with Northwest Airlines for me to fly in the cabin with her just on the part from Flint to Detroit. It's only about a half hour flight. Aunt JoAnn and Uncle Dale and their puppy, Murdock, would take Miss Ami's carry-on with the slides and quilts and meet us in Detroit. I'd go home to Flint with them, and Miss Ami would take her carry-on and continue on to Texas.

Well anyway Miss Ami doesn't leave a whole lot to chance. She got the name of the supervisor in Flint and he let us come the day before to practice. We walked around the whole airport---up and down the stairs, up and down the elevator, in and out of the ladies room, and all around the terminal. We listened to the loud voices on the public address system, and to the planes taking off and landing, and we even pretended to talk on the pay phone. We also watched the baggage carousel and walked around through all the people. (I was really good. If my blind master ever has to fly, I'll know just what to do. )

The best part was our special tour of the plane, just like the one we'd fly on the next day. Supervisor Jim took us out on the tarmac and let me practice going up and down the steps. They're open you know. You can see right through 'em. Since Miss Ami and I practice going up to the press box at all the football games and it's ten times higher, I did really good. We got to try out the seats. (I dug out the peanuts from under the seat and ate them while they talked.) We were ready!

The next day we came back for the real thing. We checked in real early...

...and just as we were heading to the gate, they canceled the flight! Since there's only one connection to San Antonio from Flint a day, Miss Ami had to drive to Detroit to catch her connection and leave me home. I was so disappointed I moped around the whole week-end.

Last Tuesday we went to our bi-weekly puppy class. I got to see Visteon and Gracie and Dharma. We're all growing up so fast. I'm bigger than all of them. Turns out the reason is 'cause I'm fat. They told Miss Ami I have to go on a diet until they can see my ribs, whatever those are. Doc Smith says it's more healthy for me, especially for my bones which are still growing. He looked in my mouth for my ribs, I guess, and found some baby teeth that didn't fall out. So I had to have those taken out. (These people are way to thorough.) I did OK, but it did take me a while to get back to normal. That first day I was so out of it I had to concentrate on breathing and blinking. I was so sleepy I was barking with my mouth closed. They said I can't chew toys for a week. Do you suppose that means the remote control is out?

Leader Dogs For The Blind receives no federal or state funding and it is not a United Way Agency. The school operates entirely on donated funds, with approximately 30% of the operating funds coming from individuals like you. Almost 12,000 teams have graduated from the school since its inception in 1939. There are currently over 2,000 graduates with Leader Dogs living and working all over the world. Right now there are about 250 dogs in formal training at the school. They will work with blind and deaf/blind students throughout the United States and in many foreign countries, helping their partners live more productive lives.

The cost for training these dogs is staggering. Even with volunteer Puppy Raisers who socialize the dogs for the first 10 to 12 months, it is estimated that by time a dog and their partner is ready to graduate, it will have cost nearly $25,000 per team. None of this cost is passed on to the student.

If you enjoyed Daisy's letter today, the next time you find a some loose change in your pocket, at the bottom of the washing machine, on the floor in the car, or between the sofa cushions, put it aside and save it for Daisy. We'll be taking her back to Leader Dogs For the Blind for her formal training in May of 2001. When she goes back, send in your spare change in Daisy's name. Together we can make a difference. Knowing that you care too will help mend my heart which is sure to break when we have to give her back. If you'd like to make a donation before the 2000 tax year ends (your donation is tax deductible) please make your check payable to Leader Dogs For The Blind and send it to:

Ami Simms
Mallery Press, LLC
4206 Sheraton Drive
Flint, MI 48532-3557

Thank you,
Ami Simms

2000 by Ami Simms