Speaker: Paul Richards, Viet Nam Vet, Leader Dog Chairman for Texas Lions District 2-E2
Each year, 200 “Leader Dogs” are matched with clients who would otherwise lose their independence. Richards discussed the impact of having a service dog with the Cleburne Lions Club on Wednesday. He is the Leader Dog chairman for Lions northern District 2E2.
While serving in the military, Richards was exposed to Agent Orange. The tactical herbicide used in Vietnam left him 100 percent disabled with a long list of health complications, including impaired vision.
“This is the smartest dog that’s come along since Rin Tin Tin and Lassie,” Richards said. “He knows 170 different things from words in English, Spanish, German, sign language, hand movements, body positions and locations of my cane.”
At Leader Dogs, training is personalized for each client. They have the opportunity to train with their guide dog in a wide variety of situations to fit current and future needs, including urban, suburban and rural locations; college campuses; busy stores and malls; public transit and other environments.
Lions Clubs throughout the world have continued to support Leader Dog and its clients financially, brought thousands of people who needed assistance through Leader Dog’s doors and have continued to serve on the Board of Trustees. They are puppy raisers, volunteers, breeding hosts and more. Many recipients of Leader Dog services have become Lions after experiencing their support and mission firsthand.
“I can’t tell you how important it is for your club to step up and sponsor a dog,” he said. “It will actually change someone’s life.”