Southfield (CW50) – Leader Dogs for the Blind was founded in 1939 by Charles A Nutting, Donald P. Schuur, and S.A. Dodge. At the time, they were all members of the Uptown Lions Club of Detroit. Their motivation for starting Leader Dogs was fellow Lions Club member, Dr. Glenn Wheeler, who had lost is sight and had been wanting a guide dog. They purchased a small farm in Rochester Hills, and over the last 80 years, the land has been expanded to make up what is Leader Dogs’ 14-acre campus.

Leader Dog guiding companion around Detroit (Photo provided by Leader Dogs for the Blind)

Leader Dogs for the Blind provides several programs and services for the blind and visually impaired, including: Guide Dog Training, Orientation & Mobility Training, Summer Experience Camp, Raise A Puppy, and Host a Breeding Dog.

The main program is the Guide Dog Training, which provides free training to clients who are legally blind, at least 16 years old, have good orientation and mobility skills and are able to care for a dog. Leader Dogs matches a client with a dog that best fits their lifestyle and is trained for the client’s living environment, whether it be urban, suburban, or rural. 

For people in the community who are not blind, but want to help be a part of Leader Dogs, there are two programs. The first is a Puppy Raisers Program, where a participant give 12 to 15 months of their time, energy, and love to raise a puppy, who will eventually be trained as a Leader Dog. The other program is the Host a Breeding Dog Program, which participants provide a home for Leader Dogs’ breeding stock through their life.

Community Connect Host Lisa Germani, with Lorene Suidan, COO of Leader Dogs for the Blind

Lorene Suidan, COO of Leader Dogs for the Blind, and Leader Dog Arctic join Lisa Germani on Community Connect to talk about the services a Leader Dog provides to the blind, as well as the special bond they form with their new owner.

To learn more about Leader Dogs for the Blind, go to

Watch COMMUNITY CONNECT, Saturday at 7:00am on CW50