Lion Paul Dale and leader dog teach students about blindness
Blooming Prairie Lions Club member Paul Dale and his Leader Dog, a Golden Retriever, met at school 2 1/2 years ago.
They met when Paul Dale flew to Rochester, Michigan to be acquainted with his third Leader Dog, this one named Summit.
Leader Dog School is sponsored by the Lions Clubs International organization.
Leader Dogs for the Blind is a guide dog training school located in Rochester Hills, Michigan. It was founded in 1939 by Lions Club members, Charles Nutting, Don Schuur and S.A. Dodge.
Leader Dog has paired over 14,000 dogs with the visually impaired worldwide, making it one of the largest organizations of its kind.
Dale has retinitis pigments, an inherited, degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision impairment and often blindness. He was first diagnosed with the disease at age 18. His sight became more severely impaired in the early 1990s necessitating help of a Leader Dog.
Just the other day, Dale and Summit visited Dale's grandson Alex at his fourth grade class at Blooming Prairie Elementary School.
All three fourth grade classes, in fact, came together to listen to Dale tell about his journey to overcome blindness, mainly with the help of his Leader Dog provided him by Lions Clubs International.
Summit turns 4 on Dec. 15.
The Blooming Prairie Lions Club has supported Lion Paul's connection with Leader Dog.
Summit, in fact, is Dale’s third Leader Dog. His first dog Macy, a Golden Retriever, died at age 10 and his second one, Shadow, also a Golden Retriever, died of cancer at the young age of 2½.
In speaking to the fourth graders, with his grandson and daughter Misty nearby, Dale told the kids how he acquired Summit. He also told how he went to school to undergo training with Summit.
Wearing a Lions vest, Dale said the Lions made it possible for him to get another pair of eyes, first Macy, second Shadow and third Summit.
BP fourth graders had lots of questions, for example:
• How did she get her name? Dale said she was named by her puppy raisers after a cruise ship.
• How old are you? Smiling widely, Dale admitted to being 72.
• Does she do any tricks? Dale said she is a no-trick dog, only working to help her master.
• Does Summit shake hands? "No, she has all four feet on the ground," Dale grinned.
• Does Summit sleep in a cage? "No, she sleeps by my bed," Dale said.
• Why do you wear glasses? A student answered to Dale, saying it was so people could not see his eyes. He quickly removed his glasses and said, "You can see my eyes." He was also asked why he wore a hat and he said it was to prevent him from being hit by branches overhead.
Dale had his grandson introduce him. As soon as Alex began to speak, Summit focused her attention on her friend Alex and when she was let loose she went directly to Alex.
"Pretty much every kid in the classroom got to pet her once. Her head was in the air and her tail a wagging."
Who had more fun, Dale or Summit? He said it was a tossup.
Dale told the students that Summit is just like a regular dog when she is not working,
Very proud of his connection with the Lions, Paul Dale said his club is helping pay for a new playground at the BP Elementary School.