Lion President introduced our speaker, Lion Larry Smith of The Woodlands Lions Club.  Lion Larry is the District 2-S2 Chairman of Leader Dogs for the Blind, and was accompanied by his assistant Bentley, a 7-year old German Shepherd Leader Dog.  Pictured from left to right are Lion Karen Halbach, Conroe Noon Lion Larry Smith, Leader Dog Bentley, Lion Bob Ervin, Grandson Charlie Taylor and Lion Secretary Paul Hancock. Photo provided by Lion Al Gerhardt.
Lion Mike presented Tomball Lions Club badges to Lion Larry and one for Bentley. Lion Larry is a Legacy Lion as his Dad was a founding father of the Magnolia Lions Club.  Lion Larry found out what the Lions motto "We Serve" meant by looking at the examples his father set at meetings, pancake suppers, and the annual Turkey Shoots with the Magnolia Club.  Lion Larry has approximately 30 years’ service as a Lion member with the Conroe Noon Lions Club and currently is with The Woodlands Lions Club.  He has served as Club President three times and most of the other Officer positions in the Clubs.  In our District, Lion Larry has served as District Treasurer, Zone Chairman, and President of the P&S.  For the past 5-years, he has served as Chair of the Leader Dog for the Blind Chairmanship.
Larry's presentation included: details of the renovated Leader Dog facility in Rochester Hills, Michigan; raise a Leader Dog from conception of a new litter to retirement of a loyal friend; and what these magnificent dogs are able to do for a blind person.  Larry addressed the cost of raising a Leader Dog, the dog breeds that are used, and how a person can qualify to become a Leader Dog Client.
Major points of presentation:
  • Leader Dog Facility in Rochester Hills, Michigan $15millon renovation in 2015
  • Dedicated trainers and staff at the Leader Dog Facility
  • Leader Dog project started by 3 Lions in 1939
  • 3 types dogs used for Leader Dogs: German Shepherd; Labrador Retriever; Golden Retriever
  • Trained 75000 dogs since inception
  • Cost to train a single Leader Dog: $38,000 to $40,000
  • Train 300-400 “clients” per year for a 26-day session how to adapt to use of a Leader Dog
  • Clients who are both blind and death are taught ASL
  • There is absolutely no cost to the client—transportation, lodging, meals all included
  • Puppy Raisers – train basic commands before the dogs start their Leader Dog training; teach basic behavior and obedience
  • Started using prisoners from surrounding areas to be Puppy raisers which is a beneficial program for puppies and selected prisoners
  • Trained puppies start their Leader Dog Training at 12 to 15 months of age.  Leader Dog training has 4 phases; each phase lasts about 4 weeks.  Once completed, they are blindfolded tested as well as receive another health exam.  Then they are ready to go to the Team training with their assigned client
  • In 2018 there were 46 Leader Dog Teams placed in Texas (Team is the blind individual and the Leader Dog)
  • Viewed some video success stories of Teams
  • Go to their website www. for detailed information, including application for clients
  • Leader Dog program needs support of Lions as well as individuals to keep it going strong.