Mountain Mailbag

Rifle resident Shawn Fowler is about to get a new leash on life. With the help of the Rifle Lions Club, Fowler ” who has been blind since he was 9 years old ” is off to Rochester, Mich., where he’s getting acquainted with a new leader dog, a 11⁄2- year-old golden retriever. The Rifle Lions will host a welcome home party and benefit spaghetti dinner for Fowler from 5-8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, at the Rifle Senior Center.

Fowler’s new four-legged friend will help fill the spot left empty after the recent passing of his first leader dog, Satin, who died this summer. Fowler had Satin for 10 years and was devastated by the loss. When the Rifle Lions heard that his dog had died, they contacted Michigan’s Leader Dog organization and quickly made arrangements for Fowler to visit and find a much-needed replacement.

Despite his disability, Fowler has led an active life in the community since graduating from Rifle High School in 1992. He lives in his own apartment and volunteers five days a week at LIFT-UP. But a leader dog has certainly helped make his life easier.

Leader Dogs for the Blind was founded in 1939 by a group of Michigan Lions Club members and has trained more than 12,000 service dogs for visually impaired people across the country. While the dogs are provided at no cost to eligible recipients, the organization spends approximately $28,000 on each person and dog team for training and transportation, money which comes solely from contributors and community donations.

With that in mind, proceeds from Saturday’s dinner will go to the Leader Dog organization. Tickets to the dinner are $6 for adults and $3 for children 10 and under. Advance tickets are $5 for adults and are available at Gold Star Realty, Crossroads Assisted Living, the Hair Company and Rifle LIFT-UP.

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