Karen Voss

I would like to nominate Karen Voss for the Sunshine Award. When Karen’s daughter decided to raise a pup for Leader Dogs as a 4-H project, nobody could have known the ripples the project would have through the community and the world. After that year of family involvement, Karen has continued to raise Leader Dog pups for the last 28 years. After pouring love and training into a dog for a year, the raisers drive the “trail of tears” back to the Leader Dog School in Rochester, Michigan. Karen helped fill the void of returning a dog by bringing home a new pup. The dogs she has raised have been partnered with blind people in the United States and abroad. Karen took her commitment to the next level after a few years by becoming a leader/counselor for the local group of raisers. She works tirelessly to work with the raiser in overcoming training issues like fear of steps or distractibility. She cheers on other raisers, celebrating their successes and sympathizing with them when their dogs are “career changed” to being beloved pets instead of Leader Dogs. Karen has been effective assisting in the establishment of training strategies, assisting in editing the Leader Dog Raiser Puppy Manual and serving on the Puppy Raiser Advisory Committee for Leader Dogs for the Blind. Friendships have formed based on a common mission; preparing these special puppies for a career in guide work. Beverly Kramer states, “Karen has been my inspiration to improve my abilities and knowledge in this volunteer role. Together, we worked on models for some training protocols which have been the basis for improving impulse control, a basic requirement for a good guide dog. Over the period of 21 years I have raised, Karen has been an encouragement every step of the way.” Considering the dogs she has raised and the dogs her group has raised, Karen estimates it has been well over 100 pups they have raised altogether. The love and training poured into these animals their first year of life produce the confident caring guide dogs that can lead a blind person across a busy street and through a busy life of being a student, a mom, a teacher, or wherever else their life takes them.

Katherine Schneider