With Puppy Raiser Amy Schupska and Future Leader Dog Sharon

A puppy golden retriever stands on a wooden deck looking at the camera

Sharon at 12 weeks

Puppy Raiser Amy Schupska is currently raising her 11th Leader Dog puppy, Sharon, a lovable golden retriever. Amy is also a volunteer puppy counselor who assists other puppy raisers with teaching and socializing their Leader Dog puppies.

FLD Sharon was born on December 19, 2016 and was named in honor of Sharon Dougherty as recognition of her 35 years of service as a Leader Dog team member. “What a wonderful honor to name her after someone who has spent countless hours making clients from around the world feel at home,” says Amy.

Amy and her husband Andy picked FLD Sharon up from the Leader Dog campus on February 10, 2017. Amy recalls “She was equally cuddly and independent from the moment we got her.”

Like all Leader Dog puppies, FLD Sharon wears a blue Future Leader Dog bandana or jacket when she is out in public with Amy. The bandana signifies to the public and to FLD Sharon that she is “working.” When not “working,” FLD Sharon loves to socialize with other dogs.

Photo of Amy standing in front of a fire truck holding the leash of golden retriever Sharon. Sharon is wearing her blue Future Leader Dog vest and sitting next to Amy

Amy and FLD Sharon visit a fire station in Bay City, MI.

In May, Amy and FLD Sharon went on a puppy outing to a local fire station where they got to meet a firefighter and sit in the back of an ambulance! FLD Sharon was so engaged in the activity that she didn’t notice that her skills were being put to the test. “When the sirens blared she remained focused and calm,” says Amy. “Another puppy counselor described Sharon as ‘A very relaxed, stable puppy, who is confident and willing.’”

Over the past year FLD Sharon has been developing many important skills needed to be a confident Leader Dog. Thanks to Amy and Andy, she has learned how to stay calm and focused in a vast array of situations. She has practiced working with people of all ages in a wide range of environments. From helping with a Girl Scout presentation to riding a ferry boat in Frankenmuth to crossing busy intersections in downtown Detroit, FLD Sharon has handled most situations that came her way with relative ease.

Photo of Amy and human Sharon standing in front of shelves of books. They are smiling at the camera and between them sits Future Leader Dog Sharon in her blue vest

1-year-old FLD Sharon sits between Amy (left) and her
namesake Sharon Dougherty (right).

FLD Sharon recently celebrated her first birthday and is almost ready to return to Leader Dog for formal guide dog training. Amy plans on spending the next month and a half soaking up as much dog love as she can. She might even give FLD Sharon an extra cup of her favorite vanilla doggy ice cream.

Amy will be tweeting about her last few weeks with FLD Sharon on Leader Dog's Twitter, @Leader_Dog, using the hashtag #FollowMeFriday.