March 11 was a chilly day for our outing to the Rochester Mills Beer Company. that is located in the Western Knitting Mills building that was built in 1896. Those in attendance at the luncheon were – Ken & Susan Stigleman, Robert & Linda Smith and Robert’s mother Gail, Andy & Claudia Neumann, Buck & Grace Fredrickson, Al & Dottie Miller, Mark & Peggy Srtephenson, Chip & Lori DeLeeuw, Denise Hampton, Bob & Cindy Schwable, Cindy’s father Howard Rosso, Leslie Miller, Rachel Bates and Dawn Logie-Bates, Virginia Robertson and our hosts Joe Peplinski & Lorrie Robertson.
After some visiting a few of us decided to do a tour of the brewery to see how the beer is made. After our lunch was over Joe & Lorrie raffled off some Airstream related items with the proceeds to go to the facility we would tour after lunch. The raffle winners were: Lori DeLeeuw, Bob Schwable, Mark Stephenson, Leslie Miller, Andy Neumann, Ken Stigleman and Rachel Bates.
From the Brewery we all drove over to the Leader Dogs for the Blind to have a tour of their new facility which just opened this past January.
We were told that the program consists of 85% Labrador Retrievers, 10% Golden Retrievers, 3% German Shepherds and 2% Labrador/Golden crosses. They provide approximately 200 highly trained guide dogs to their clients who are blind or visually impaired. Purina Dog Food Company has partnered with them and they donate 56,000 pounds of dog food per year. Our guide said they go thru about 1,000 pounds per week.
We were surprised to learn that in 2002 they developed a new program with the Iowa Department of Corrections for a Prison Puppy Raising Program that pairs inmates with Leader Dog puppies. Leader Dog helps the inmates raise the puppies that move on to become Leader Dogs. The program has been so successful it as grown to include ten correctional facilities in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan. To date, hundreds of future Leader Dogs have been raised in the prison system.
At the end of the tour, Joe presented to our tour guide our donation of $200.00 that was collected from the raffle ticket sales at the luncheon. A big thank you goes out to Joe & Lorrie for a providing great day and for arranging the tour at Leader Dogs for the Blind.