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Leader Dog Willow and the Thunderbirds

July 31, 2019



Guest  Hosting Again–by PAWpular Demand


by Leader Dog Willow


By PAWpular demand, I am guest blogger for WORDWALK for the second week in a row.  This Wednesday, my doggie thoughts turn to Thunderbirds–not the cars–but the Thunderbirds of the U.S. Air Force.  What precision in flight!  What bravery!  What dedication and expertise!  Last weekend, the Thunderbirds were in Milwaukee for the annual Air and Water Show.  On this past Friday, the Thunderbirds were practicing around the area where Alice and I live.  Zoom!  Zoom!  Zoom!  While the Thunderbirds were doing what I believe they call “air checks,” Alice and I stayed indoors; however, the sound was significantly loud even inside our townhouse.  Then, on Saturday and Sunday, we did our long walks in the morning and evening to avoid being outside during the afternoon performance times of the Thunderbirds at the Air and Water Show.  Of course, you-know-who was quite proud of me for not being bothered at all by the loud zooms–one of which seemed to go directly down the boulevard in front of our townhouse.  What an exciting weekend!


Quite a number of people, I overheard, told Alice that they were wondering how I did with all of the noise of the Thunderbirds.  Thankfully, Alice gave a glowing report about my admirable behavior to all who inquired.  Alice added that I am also quite calm during the frequent firework displays for Independence Day and for the various festivals.  Actually, I could have eLABorated that the professional firework displays are not at all challenging contrasted with the zooms of the Thunderbirds.  Even though Alice did not mention this analysis nor the too frequent sirens, people were very impressed to hear of my most appropriate Leader Dog behavior.


Despite the hearing of dogs being much better than humans, we special working dogs are selected for our ability to be undisturbed by–nonreactive to–loud noises and other disruptive sounds.  Indeed, this quality is only one of many that determine if a dog will progress from one stage to the next of guide-dog training and then guide-dog placement with a blind or visually impaired handler.


Since I was PAWticularly good with being calm and attentive around loud noises, I was sometimes referred to as a “sound” dog.  Eventually, trainers (GDMIs–guide dog mobility instructors) selected me to be matched with Alice in June of 2016 because they knew that I would have a new home in a large city and a new neighborhood in the midst of a three-year construction project (for the trolley).  While Alice and I do not like noise–especially unnecessary noise–we are grateful that, one might say, noise brought us together.  Now, isn’t this a positive (I mean, PAWSitive) way of looking at noise!


Below you will find my top six noise challenges through which I persevere like the good Leader Dog I am:


  1. Thunderbirds
  2. construction
  3. screeching sound of trolley (while turning at an intersection–discussed in a previous blog)
  4. fireworks
  5. sirens
  6. motorcycles


Since I know that Alice really does not care for the loud sirens, especially at an intersection, when I hear a siren coming our way, I stop mid-block and wait for the emergency vehicle to pass.  Then, we proceed to the next intersection.  I just learned this little trick on my own because I do like to please Alice at all times!  Labs are like this, you know!  If we are walking very near the passing siren, Alice tells me that she is sorry for the noise and praises me abundantly for being such a good dog.  “Think nothing of it!  It’s my job, but many thanks for all the praise!”


Well, we do live in Milwaukee.  Need I say more about the number of motorcycles in this area?


Fortunately, the majority of our walks are relatively quiet, peaceful, and uneventful.  Our long walks together are the highlights of our day–although for me, meal times are a close second!  (You may recall that I am a Labrador Retriever.)  I am always attuned to what Alice is doing and saying:  hearing her voice is the best sound of all.  She thinks I work–like the Thunderbird pilots–with precision, expertise, dedication, and bravery.  A-a-ah, I am just happy to be Alice’s Leader Dog.


Best wishes for a peaceful and sunny August!

Leader Dog Willow, guest blogger for Alice’s WORDWALK


July 31, 2019, Wednesday



From → Uncategorized

  1. Susan M McKendry permalink

    Another very nice and interesting blog, Willow!

    • Hi, Sue–Thanks!  I hope you are enjoying the beautiful weather.

      Take care–Alice and Willow

  2. So happy to read another of your blogs, Willow! Your perspective of life with Alice keeps your readers well-versed on your excellent work in all kinds of challenging situations. Thank you for all the inside (or should I say “outside”) information. I hope your August is filled with wonderful walks with Alice!
    Love and lots of pets from your Auntie Mary

    • Auntie Mary–Thanks for your nice comment!  Right after we posted the blog, we went for a long walk and encountered an especially loudly screeching trolley, construction at night again on City Hall, and a loud motorcycle on Water Street!  Fortunately, the way home was quieter and rounded out our 45 blocks of the day.

      Good night!


  3. Francetta Rayce permalink

    Willow is certainly an astute observer and articulate writer. Thank you for being such a wonderful companion and helper to Alice.

    • Hi, Fran–Many thanks for your nice comment on my blog post!  How wonderful to hear from someone in Michigan–my home state!

      Enjoy the weekend–Willow (and Alice, too)

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