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Harness Up Fall, 2001 A Publication of the National Association of Guide Dog Users A division of the National Federation of the Blind Editor: Eugenia Firth TABLE OF CONTENTS
President's Message Suzanne Whalen 2 SUBSTANDARD GUIDE DOG PROGRAMS Eugenia Firth 9 Wheelin' and Dealin' Suzanne Whalen 13 A Time to License? Karla Westjohn 25 St. Agnes 1 Toni Eames 29 Canine Health: Puppy Proofing Your Home Dolores Holle, VMD 34 WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN… YOUR DOG'S INITIATIVE GETS YOU IN TROUBLE Eugenia Firth 36 A Nose for News Toni and Ed Eames 38 Canine Concerns Committee at 2001 Convention Ed and Toni Eames 42 MINUTES, Sunday July 1, 2001 Eugenia Firth, Secretary 43 PFUI! Suzanne Whalen 45 DIVISION OFFICERS 50 President's Message Hello, everyone! I am writing this exactly one week before Halloween. The weather here in Dallas is crisp and invigorating, not too hot, not too cold, the kind of weather that beckons one to open the windows and spend as much time outdoors as possible. This is Chamber of Commerce weather. If we could bottle it and sell it in six-packs to the rest of the nation, the city would never have to worry about running short of money for anything! I hope all of you are having a glorious fall and that this message finds you and all those you love, both furry and otherwise, happy and well. As we decided during our business meeting in Philadelphia, I did not give the Presidential Report at that time but instead would present it in the Fall "Harness Up!" Usually the President's Message and the Presidential Report are separate articles. However, I have decided this one time to include the Presidential Report as part of the President's Message. Therefore, this message will contain information about the activities of this division between the 2000 and 2001 Conventions. It will also bring you up to date on some things that have happened since we last met in Philadelphia. I am doing it this way this time because I don't want it to appear that I am monopolizing this issue with too many articles. A considerable portion of this issue is devoted to my other, rather lengthy article about my experiences being trained with my guide dog Caddo to work with a power wheelchair. So many people have asked me questions about specific techniques we use in various situations. How do we work through doors? How do we ride lifts on buses? How did we prepare for class? What is it like to travel in this fashion? What did the class itself involve? How are we doing now? Are we having any problems now that we're home? These are only some of the questions I have been asked. I am deeply touched by your interest, and I have tried to address all these issues in one article. In spite of the fact that the article is rather long, I hope you will find it both interesting and informative. If you still have questions after reading it, my address and phone number appear with that of the other officers in this issue. Please feel free to contact me at any time regarding wheelchair work, matters related to NAGDU, or anything else where I can help. I would like to commend Gigi for the excellent job she is doing as "Harness Up!" editor. Several issues ago, I invited everyone to feel free to submit articles. It still concerns me that we seem to have more or less the same group of people contributing to each and every issue. Before I became a NAGDU officer, I never contributed to "Harness Up!" either. It seemed I was always so busy. I also thought that I'd have nothing interesting to say. I figured that I didn't know any more about life with guide dogs than most people did. Of course, as President, I have been forced, if you will, to contribute, and now I wonder why I didn't do it sooner. Obviously, the Presidential Message and the Presidential Report are articles that only the President can write. But I have also found it enjoyable to go beyond those things and write about how I have overcome a problem as a guide dog user, or how I have assisted others to solve problems. As a guide dog user and as an individual, your experiences are unique to you. If you have an opinion or an experience that's related in some way to guide dogs, please share it with this publication. I want to put out an urgent request for guide dog school staff, especially instructors, to submit articles. We also welcome articles from puppy raisers. The overwhelming majority of articles we receive will always come from guide dog users. But people who touch our dogs' lives and contribute to their development in other ways (for example, raising them and training them) have a perspective that we handlers would find informative, interesting, useful, and sometimes just downright fun! It should go without saying, therefore, that articles from puppy raisers, instructors, directors of training, and school veterinarians are always welcome! Please take the time to let your school know, as one of its graduates, that we value articles from its staff members and puppy raisers. Okay, let's move on to the developments which have taken place during this year's convention and afterward. First of all, as you may know, Bruce Gardner, in addition to being a Board Member of the Federation at the national level, is also in charge of security for our conventions. When there are problems related to dogs, Bruce is often aware of them. He does what he can to help, and brings it to our attention. Often, though not always, we are already aware of the situation before Bruce approaches us, thanks to our excellent paid staff and wonderful volunteers, all recruited and trained by Ed and Toni Eames. I am happy to report that Bruce spoke with me following convention, and he reported that the number of negative incidents involving guide dogs was way down compared with previous years! There was one particularly unfortunate and annoying incident, some unattended feces left outside an elevator after one o'clock in the morning. Of course, no NAGDU staff or volunteers could be reached because no one was on duty that late at night. Bruce did not attempt to call me at the time this occurred. Even if he had, there would have been nothing I could have done except call Hotel Housekeeping, since I don't stock the necessary cleaning supplies in my room. Because of this incident, and because we have more money in the NAGDU Treasury than we have ever had, the Board of Directors, in its first telephone meeting following the convention, voted unanimously that we would approach Dr. Maurer with the offer that the division would assume the cost of paying for coverage by a staff person from midnight to six in the morning. According to this plan, the NFB National Office would still pay for the relief staff from six in the morning until midnight, as they are now doing. All of us who handled our dogs responsibly can give ourselves and each other a well-deserved pat on the back for the tremendous improvement over past conventions. Our Sunday evening business meeting and our Wednesday evening seminar, "A Guide Dog in Your Life," were very successful and were extremely well attended! We also had record numbers of people taking advantage of our free "dog sitter" services, mostly during the banquet, although we did assist some people on Tour Day and at other times as we were able. We tried a new, more streamlined registration process this year for our business meeting. Please let me know whether or not you feel that registration was quicker and easier than last year. Also, please let me know whether or not the NAGDU Information Table, the sample products, the flea control, the nail-care clinic, and the dog-sitting service were helpful to you. Don't be shy: We're all working to make convention as pleasant as possible for everyone, dogs and humans alike. If you have any suggestions about anything we can do better, even if it's something we're not now doing, please share it with one of the NAGDU officers. Our addresses, phone numbers, and, where applicable, e-mail addresses are found elsewhere in this issue. As most everyone knows, the Burlesons, founders of the Guide Horse Foundation, were invited to speak at our NAGDU meeting. Dana Ard, Vice President of our division, left a number of messages trying to confirm their appearance, but no one from the Guide Horse Foundation would give Dana the courtesy of returning her phone calls. I trust it will come as no surprise to anybody, then, that no one from the Guide Horse Foundation appeared either at our meeting or at any other time during our convention. Furthermore, no one from the Guide Horse Foundation had the decency, even after the fact, to offer us a reason for their not showing up. At any rate, they never talked about it to me. If you were not at the convention, and if you have not yet read your August-September Braille Monitor and checked out the text of the resolutions we adopted this year, please do so. Three of us working together: Karla Westjohn, Gigi Firth, and I, co-authored a resolution against guide horses. All three of us had previously worked extensively as part of NAGDU'S efforts to bring a satisfying end to Canine Vision, a substandard and dangerous program in Georgia. Karla Westjohn is an attorney and a dedicated member of NAGDU who has done extensive legal work pro bono (which means free of charge) for your NAGDU Board at the time we were working to help close the former Canine Vision and guide its board in the steps they should take to obey their own bylaws, assist their struggling graduates, and decide where they were going to transfer the assets of their school. Their bylaws stated that they had to choose a "like charity," and a few options presented themselves. Your NAGDU Board, and Miss Westjohn, guided the Canine Vision Board to make the best choice from those at hand. In this case the clear best choice for acquiring the former Canine Vision was Southeastern Guide Dogs, Inc. Miss Westjohn also assisted Southeastern and its attorneys for a nominal fee during the process of acquiring the former Canine Vision. Gigi Firth is the Secretary of this division. She has done exhaustive research on the Guide Horse Foundation. She used published materials from a variety of sources, as well as the Foundation's own Web site. Based on this research, and based on my extensive and, to say the least, shocking interview with Jan Burleson, Gigi wrote a very thorough and well-documented Braille Monitor article highlighting the serious problems that presently exist at the Guide Horse Foundation. Gigi's article also detailed the concerns blind people should have at this time about the following areas: the negative manner in which the Foundation presents blind people in the media; the lack of professional expertise on the part of the trainers; various problems posed by the horses themselves; and potential safety issues. There is not yet total agreement among guide dog users, guide dog schools, service dog users, or service dog schools. There is room for discussion within these constituencies and among them. But down the road, NAGDU and the NFB need to take a hard look and a deciding role in dealing with the questions that are now confronting the field. Questions like: What is a substandard program? What standards should there be for judging a competent trainer, a quality training program and a safe, well-trained team? Who will enforce those standards? These issues will not be resolved overnight, but neither we consumers nor our schools can hide our heads in the sand and pretend that all is well. What NAGDU has done with respect to Canine Vision, and the widespread support we received for this guide horse resolution, are only the beginning in our dealing, in one way or another, with substandard programs. I'd like to take this opportunity to extend a special and sincere thank you to James Gashel and Peggy Elliott, for helping us to rewrite the resolution in such a way that it stood the best possible chance of passing the Resolutions Committee. For those who may not know, Mr. Gashel is the Director of Governmental Affairs for the National Federation of the Blind, and Mrs. Elliott is the First Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind. Our resolution protects the civil rights to access to public places for blind people using guide dogs by reaffirming that the properly trained guide dog is the only acceptable type of animal for this work. The resolution further states that, given the diversity of the environments in which blind people use their dogs, the guide dog is currently the only animal suitable and versatile enough to perform the variety of tasks required of a guide animal. Unfortunately, just declaring the civil rights of guide dog users, as this resolution does, won't in and of itself stop unscrupulous and incompetent people from setting up substandard training programs which pose a threat to consumers. I wish it would, but it won't, and NAGDU continues to be forced to confront this issue head on. We all remember Canine Vision. Fortunately, Canine Vision is gone from the scene, but alas, it unfortunately appears that Sally Sue Bradley is not. We received a disturbing e-mail recently. The e-mail was from none other than Mrs. Bradley, the erstwhile Director of the former Canine Vision. Mrs. Bradley is apparently circulating it far and wide. It seems Mrs. Bradley is in the beginning stages of founding yet another "school. "This time, it is called Georgia Guides. At least for the moment, her plans are to seek money and to raise puppies and hope that established guide and service dog schools will take them, once they become adult dogs. She claims, in fact, that Leader has already taken some of her dogs from Georgia Guides. I contacted Leader, and Bill Hansen, Leader's CEO, responded. He said that he had received two dogs around the time that Canine Vision closed, one from its puppy raiser and one from Canine Vision directly. His response makes it clear that these dogs, which are now adults and are working with blind people, could not have been raised by Georgia Guides since Georgia Guides was not yet in existence at the time of their birth. Thus, we see the first inaccuracy in the information Mrs. Bradley is distributing. But back to the rest of the information from the e-mail. Mrs. Bradley claims, in fact, to be continuing to raise for Leader, saying that Leader is her "first choice" as the guide dog school who will take her puppies when they are about fifteen months old. The wording of this e-mail message would lead the reader to assume that Georgia Guides needs no other guide dog school and that Leader's acceptance of the puppies is a foregone conclusion. Again, Mr. Hansen responded. He says that Leader has never had a relationship with Georgia Guides, nor does it plan to do so. Mrs. Bradley asks where she should send her wheelchair and service dogs and states that she will have "excellent dogs" by 2003. Personally, there are three things which concern me about all this. First, it may be said that there are some gifted people who could do a fantastic job of raising puppies completely on their own, with no guidance and no monitoring and no chance to interact with other puppy raisers. But that's not the majority of people. Without some assistance, most people, however well-intentioned they are, don't fully understand everything they need to know in order to produce a well socialized guide or service puppy. This is why reputable schools have detailed manuals for the puppy raisers to follow. This is why they screen the families before entrusting them with a puppy. This is also why schools often require that the families attend puppy raiser meetings and turn in periodic reports and submit to monitoring visits as necessary. Ironically, before founding Canine Vision, Mrs. Bradley had for a short time been a puppy raiser for Southeastern. It seems logical that she should have understood the importance of screening prospective raiser families and giving raisers information, supervision, guidance, and assistance. Yet, Canine Vision provided virtually none of these things to its raisers. Given Canine Vision's past history, I fear that, by and large, any school that takes a puppy which has been raised by Georgia Guides could possibly receive an adult dog whose socialization leaves something to be desired. My second concern is this: What will Mrs. Bradley do with adult dogs whom nobody takes? Will she one day get it into her head to open her own school again so that she can train them as guide or service dogs, even though she states that it is not now her intention to do "advanced training" as she calls it? My third concern has to do with undermining the well-deserved reputations of legitimate schools. When Mrs. Bradley was still Director of Canine Vision, she would invite an instructor from a respectable school to come to her facility to give a couple of weekend seminars for her "trainers. "Alternatively, Mrs. Bradley or some of her staff would sometimes visit another program for a short time, observe, and talk to a trainer there. In either case, whether Mrs. Bradley had invited a trainer to her facility or had sent her staff elsewhere to observe, she would later misrepresent the facts, declaring a professional relationship which did not exist by saying that the trainer from the other school had "certified" Canine Vision trainers and dogs. It appears that Mrs. Bradley is up to her old pattern of alleging a relationship with a reputable, well- established school. Mrs. Bradley has made a point of mentioning an alleged involvement between Leader and Georgia Guides in her e-mail. Again, Leader has denied this relationship. Any guide dog school contemplating a relationship with any organization founded by Mrs. Bradley should be advised in no uncertain terms that consumers in general and graduates in particular strongly oppose and discourage such a move. In addition to warning our guide dog schools, I think we should also alert anyone we may know at service dog schools to stay clear. We need to watch Georgia Guides closely in the future, to determine whether further action is needed, in addition to advising schools not to acquire dogs from there. As we in NAGDU discuss these things among ourselves and with others in the field, trying to come up with some sort of consensus on how best to address the issue of guaranteeing quality training for people with disabilities, including blind people, who wish to use dogs, let us all understand something. As long as you choose to have this current President and this current Board leading this division, NAGDU will play a role. If we do nothing, if we pretend that there are no substandard programs out there or that it ought to be just the schools' responsibility to police themselves and get rid of the "bad apples," then we will be living in a fantasy land. Worse still, we will be ducking our responsibilities toward our fellow consumers. A member recently asked me if I thought NAGDU should be the guide dog school "police.” No, I don't think that's what we want our role to be, and I don't believe the NAGDU Board or the membership wants to define NAGDU in that way either. I understand and agree with the thoughtfulness behind the question. Obviously, we want to work in an atmosphere of shared respect and partnership with guide dog schools. But we are, after all, a division of the National Federation of the Blind, and we learn our philosophy about blindness and our tactics for bringing about necessary change within the context of the larger movement. For the 34 years that we in the NFB correctly criticized NAC for condoning and accrediting some of the worst agencies in the field, did anybody worry that the NFB was becoming the "accreditation police?" In all the instances when we have properly pointed out shoddy service by a number of commissions for the blind, did we fret over whether or not we were becoming the "rehabilitation police?" When we have pointed out the terrible working conditions in certain sheltered shops, have we ever for a moment stopped to wonder whether we were going overboard and becoming the "lighthouse police?" Of course not! NAGDU does not operate in a vacuum. We obtained Dr. Maurer's support before we did anything about Canine Vision, and we consulted with him and kept him informed every step of the way. As is true of most members of NAGDU, each person on the Board feels her own deep loyalties to the school or schools from which she obtained her dogs. We appreciate and respect the loyalties our members feel to their schools. We are not going to jeopardize relationships between NAGDU and the good programs. In fact, as you know, NAGDU has been working to strengthen those ties and improve those dialogues. We won't agree with the schools on everything, of course, and sometimes, for the sake of honesty which both we and the schools want, we need to say when and why we don't agree, and we will. But a clearly substandard school is a different problem. When a Canine Vision or a Paws Abilities or a Guide Horse Foundation comes along and does things that no reputable school would even think of doing, things that exploit us and threaten our safety, we cannot pretend that that is all right. That is not in the finest Federation spirit. It should be no different for Federationists to try to root out bad service and dangerous practices by substandard guide dog schools than it is for Federationists to try to improve poor rehab practices or bad workshops or, occasionally, those few schools for the blind where children have been exploited. This NAGDU Board will act, as it sees fit, within the guidelines of Federation policy. Of course, the battle against discrimination always goes on. Between conventions and after returning home from Philadelphia, we have continued to help guide dog users when discrimination occurs. Happily, we were able to resolve all these situations by means of phone calls and follow-up letters. There was a marina that tried to make a family pay an extra charge before renting a boat, because they have a guide dog. This is, of course, illegal. It's one thing to ask for payment after damages have occurred, but to say that they would need to collect the money up front because of the likelihood that the dog would do damage and that the boat would have to be fumigated for fleas is not acceptable. We successfully redressed several cases of discrimination by taxi companies and taxi drivers. There was a museum in Colorado that would not let a patron enter, even to use the restroom, with her guide dog. But the case to which I award the booby prize involves the eye doctor's office in St. Simons Island, Georgia. The patient had been referred to this doctor by the state rehabilitation agency. She was ordered to leave her guide dog in the waiting area and was forbidden to bring the dog into the examining room. Unable to change the doctor's mind, the patient took a stand. She left the doctor's office without being examined. She notified the rehabilitation agency about the treatment she had received and then called NAGDU for help. Her aim, and our aim, was to educate this doctor and her staff about the law and about civil rights issues for people using guide dogs. If we were unable to achieve that, we were determined to get the rehabilitation agency to stop referring blind Georgians to this physician. My telephone conversation with the doctor's receptionist was nothing short of astounding, in the most negative sense. This doctor and her receptionist managed all by themselves to come up with nearly every phony excuse most of us have ever heard over the years for refusing to admit our dogs. "There might be some patients who are afraid of dogs.” "There could be some patients who are allergic to dogs.” "This is a medical office; we'd be in trouble with the Health Department.” "It's a cleanliness issue. What about the dog hair?" "Possibly there are some of our patients who have a cultural or religious bias that won't permit them to be in the same building with a dog.” "This patient didn't notify us in advance that she was bringing a dog. Isn't she required to do that?” "She doesn't need the dog. We told her we'd be more than happy to take her by the hand and assist her to get to where she needed to go. ""You don't understand. You're being unreasonable. If you only knew the doctor better! She is unusually sensitive and caring about the needs of people with all types of disabilities!" "Our examining rooms are so small. With the dog in there, there would be no room for the doctor to work.” Finally: "The dog is quite large. The doctor is just such a small woman.” (I must confess that last one was a new one to me. Of all the irrelevant arguments they made, that's got to be the most irrelevant of all. Try as I might, I couldn't understand how they could possibly see any connection to anything there.) The doctor's receptionist remained arrogant, belligerent, and defiant. I sent them a letter following up our phone conversation and explaining the illegal and discriminatory nature of what they were doing. I also sent them a copy of the Georgia guide dog law. There is, however, one bright spot to this case, and it deserves mention. The rehabilitation agency is standing solidly with us in this matter. They have assured us that, unless and until this doctor ceases her discriminatory behavior, they will refer no more business to her. It is indeed a pleasure when rehabilitation professionals work in cooperation and partnership with the organized blind! By the time you read this, the holiday season will either be just around the corner, or it will have just passed, depending on the speed of production and mailing this issue. I hope the holiday season proves to be happy, blessed, and safe for you and yours, and that you are blessed most abundantly in the coming year as well. I'll chat with you again in spring, 2002. Suzanne Whalen, President SUBSTANDARD GUIDE DOG PROGRAMS by Eugenia Firth You will recall from our last Harness Up discussing in great detail Canine Vision and the problems encountered by everyone involved with it. These problems are, in my opinion, just part of a larger issue, unqualified people training guide dogs, even when it is plainly unsuccessful. In our dealings with both the trainers and the executive director of Canine Vision we also saw attitudes that are not new for us in the Federation, incredible arrogance and egotism. This attitude caused even more difficulties than the fact that Canine Vision trainers were unqualified to train guide dogs. Had the attitude been better, we might have been successful at helping Canine Vision to become a quality program. I have discovered while researching this article, that substandard programs are not a new issue in the guide dog industry. Back in the thirties, a dog trainer, who had experience with other areas of dog training, decided that training guide dogs could not be all that hard. He had never done it himself, but he thought that he could just figure it out himself. This person made no effort to find out what The Seeing Eye was doing. He got together some interested blind people and a sponsor. Then he started training some dogs. Everything seemed to be going fine; the dogs stopped for curbs, checked for traffic, etc. The sponsor, however, becoming concerned about his liabilities, contacted Jack Humphrey. Jack Humphrey was the Director of Training for The Seeing Eye back then, and is responsible for our modern methods for training guide dogs. At that time, absolutely no one in America knew more than he did about training guide dogs. The sponsor asked Mr. Humphrey if he would evaluate the dogs' performance. When he arrived, he watched the trainer work these dogs. Again, the dogs did fine. However, when Mr. Humphrey pulled out a blindfold and suggested that the trainer cross a busy street with it on, there was an immediate rebellion. The trainer was aghast at this suggestion and refused to trust his life to the dogs he was training, even though he expected the blind people to do so. That put an end to that guide dog venture, but only because the sponsor was sensible. I could go on describing other situations, but I don't need to here. The point is clear. We have always had substandard trainers and guide dog schools. However, in my opinion, we have a more complicated situation today. For one thing, even though we blind people typically have more mobility training than back in the early days, traffic is heavier and much faster than it once was. More complicated intersections exist today. Locations such as malls, airports, and hotels are, in many cases, open and complex. In other words, our dogs are dealing with situations which did not exist back in 1929 to the degree it does today. Whether we will admit it or not, more of us, both cane users and guide dog users alike, must call upon either our sighted colleagues, friends, family, or professionals to deal with these complications. We're as independent as we ever were, maybe more so, but we must get more information from others than was once necessary. Twenty-six years ago, when I moved to New Orleans for a new job, we never once considered whether streets were uncrossable by anyone, blind or sighted. When I moved to Dallas in 1980, uncrossable roads did not enter my mind although they should have. I had an experienced dog when I first moved to Dallas, and she and I dealt with the heavy traffic with no problem. Later, when I got a new dog, I discovered that I was living in a more complicated area than I knew, and I had to have a great deal of instructor support to enable my new dog and me to deal with the weird intersections along with the very heavy traffic. In my opinion, all of this adds up to one thing. We guide dog users cannot afford to have unqualified people experimenting on us. If someone has a new idea such as Southeastern's wheelchair program, then that person needs to start with the basic knowledge of guide dog training acquired from others who know what they are doing already. Since Southeastern is working with a new idea in the guide dog industry, let's talk about it as an experiment. The wheelchair program is a good idea based on sound guide dog experience. First, there is a real need for this training. Since Suzanne has been in a wheelchair, she has been contacted by thirteen people wanting to use a guide dog who are in wheelchairs. These people used guide dogs at one time, and then became unable to do so because of their additional disability. All of us are getting older by the minute, and some of us may become wheelchair users; we may not wish to give up traveling independently. Secondly, Mike Sergeant, Executive Director of Southeastern, is an experienced guide dog instructor and has several experienced instructors on his staff. When they first started the wheelchair program, it was thought that wheelchair training could be given to the dog by Paws for the Cause, a service dog school for sighted wheelchair users. Although the first wheelchair graduate, who was not totally blind, was able to derive some benefit from working with his dog, it was felt that better results could be obtained through other methods. Therefore, blind wheelchair users are now taught to use an electric chair, and Southeastern instructors teach the dog wheelchair guiding after they have been taught to guide a walking person. Because Southeastern instructors were experienced in the ways of guide dog training for walking blind people, they were able, because of their knowledge, to devise a plan for the dogs to alert blind wheelchair users of upcoming obstacles. Because of their experience, they were better able to determine which dogs should do this work because it's more complicated than wheelchair work for the sighted. If Southeastern instructors had been instructors of the sighted wheelchair users first, they might have eventually figured out methods for teaching this skill. However, the guiding aspect of the work is much more complicated than it is for the walking blind. Therefore, they would have had to either re-invent the wheel to get the guide work right or they would have had to learn from someone else familiar with guide dog work. They might have been able to do it, eventually, but such experimentation might have put blind wheelchair users at more risk while they were developing their program. The program might have either failed or been substandard without enough knowledge. In either case, the blind wheelchair users would have been the losers. Experimentation with an idea when basic knowledge is present and where there is a reasonable chance for success is good for everyone concerned. Experimentation, however, when someone has done no research into the subject, has done no needs assessments for the market being targeted, and whose attitude toward those being served reeks of condescension, self-gratification, and no real concern for the needs of the population being assisted serves no one except the person performing the experiment. Therefore, I believe we must find a way to enforce standards, standards which have been used by our existing guide dog schools for years. Some of these standards were set based upon experience and mistakes and were set for a reason. I see no need to keep repeating old mistakes. Now let's look at The Seeing Eye as an experiment. One of the incredible statements that Mrs. Bradley, the former Executive Director of Canine Vision, made to Suzanne was to compare her school to The Seeing Eye in the beginning. Dorothy and George Eustis and Jack Humphrey had done as much research as possible on the subject of guide dogs as was known at that time. The need was obvious. Blind people had no formal mobility training available at all. If you were blind, you either figured out mobility for yourself or you didn't do it at all. The Eustises had been interested and were deeply involved in finding ways for dogs to serve people. When they saw dogs guiding blind veterans in Germany, they immediately recognized it for what it was, a new service dogs could provide for people. When comparing her school to The Seeing Eye, Mrs. Bradley had said to Suzanne that The Seeing Eye didn't know what it was doing either when it started. Those people who want to short change the blind will use this argument when defending their program. Someone had to be first, and it's not any of these new startup schools of today. The Eustises made an effort to learn as much as was known about guide dog work before they started. These startup programs owe the blind no less. We in the Federation have always supported and demanded good training for us, the blind. No one would dream of supporting the right of some uninitiated sighted person to teach cane travel. Indeed, cane users don't seem to have the problem of unwanted cane instructors the way we do. A cane instructor may be either good or bad, depending upon the ability of the individual. However, I don't recall ever hearing of some person just starting up a cane travel school just because they want to. The attraction is putting blind people together with dogs. Cane use is not interesting enough for some of these fly-by-night people. I am personally in favor of instructors being required, in one way or another, to meet the training standards set forth by the US Council of Guide Dog Schools. In our modern times, people must present to their employers, and sometimes to the state, proof that they have passed the preliminaries. Those standards are different for various occupations, but it is becoming increasingly necessary to have those qualifications. In these days when lawsuits abound, a sensible employer is going to have basic qualifications determined for a job, especially one as important as guide dog instructor. These people are the backbone of the whole guide dog school. There is no book you can read called "Guide Dog Training for Dummies. " The profession must be learned on-the-job or not at all. There may not be a mystery about training our dogs, but it must be done right or not at all. Now for one final thing. A problem exists which didn't exist back in 1929 when The Seeing Eye was first started. This problem is the service dog industry and the definition of disability. It seems the numbers of people who think they have a disability are growing, and with it the numbers of service dog types. I work with a lady who told me about her son-in-law's service dog. When I asked her what this dog did for her son-in-law, she could not tell me. Indeed, she had to think a while before she could come up with something. Finally, she said "Well, she helps him with his stress. " In case you think this is an isolated incident, it's not. SINCE then, I have heard of other such situations. I spoke with an airline employee who told me about another so-called service dog whose mistress insisted that he was a service dog because he told her when to take her medication. What possible signal that would make any sense could this dog use to perform this magical service? By this time, you may be asking yourself how this is related to guide dogs. Unfortunately, it is related because, if this trend continues unchallenged by the users of legitimate guide and service dogs, our access problems will likely worsen. Also, in order to produce dogs which the rest of us would not consider service dogs, the number of service dog providers are likely to increase. There's a lot of them already. In addition, we have heard of some service dog programs which have decided to train blind people with other disabilities, even though the blind person needs a guide dog school capable of handling multiple disabilities. Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about. You will recall that Suzanne had received calls from blind people using wheelchairs. One of these callers, becoming desperate for independent mobility again, approached a trainer of sighted people in wheelchairs to train her dog. Without any research into the subject, the man blithely told this lady that, yes indeed, he would teach her dog to work with a wheelchair. He just assumed that since the dog knew guide work already that it would be no trick to add the wheelchair into the mix. The guide dog user, too, also thought that her dog could just add another skill to her repertoire. It takes an experienced guide dog instructor to add a wheelchair into the mix. If we assume that this man had the best intentions for his prospective student, then why was he prepared to start this training with no research into whether others had done it and what problems they had encountered. I would like to work out a method whereby organizations like Southeastern could develop good ideas like the wheelchair program and stop others from implementing ideas and programs that are not in our best interest. I recognize this to be a difficult and sticky dilemma. However, I believe that it is a problem that we cannot ignore. The advent of the service dog industry and all that it entails will not allow us to sit back idle. We have had a good deal for seventy-two years. If we don't take steps to protect what we've had, we deserve to lose it. Wheelin' and Dealin' by Suzanne Whalen For those of you who are into country music, and I must confess that since moving to Texas, I have acquired a taste at least for some of it, many songs have been written about wheels. These include: "18 Wheels and a Dozen Roses," "Big Wheels Keep On Turnin'," "Roll On, 18-Wheeler, Roll On," etc. Of course, these all happen to be about trucks, and, like any good guide dog user, I find that it's better for my overall health if I make it a practice to stay out of the way of trucks as much as possible. Nonetheless, I, too, have acquired my own set of wheels. True, I only have four wheels, not eighteen. But, just like those big trucks, my vehicle needs a battery in order to operate, and I can travel at a pretty good rate of speed on the straight aways. Also, just like some truckers I know, I take my dog with me on all my "runs." Like most truckers, who are quite proud of their sleek, shiny rigs, I am very proud of the picture of confidence and independence my dog and I present as we drive around town. For anybody wondering what in the world I'm talking about, I use a power wheelchair when I travel outside my home. I am guided by my faithful Seeing Eye and Southeastern dog, Caddo. (That's right: we're talking about two schools, but only one dog.) Having Caddo means the world to me. All of us love our guide dogs and treasure what they do with us and for us on a daily basis. But Caddo has become my passport to freedom in ways I could never have imagined before. Just some brief background information, since most "Harness Up" readers know the story. In February, 2000, I fell into a manhole. I want to emphasize here that Caddo, whom I obtained from The Seeing Eye the previous July, was not guiding at the time. He was out of harness, circling and looking for a place to relieve. I was in Baltimore, and the ground was icy. Caddo is a strong dog, and somehow, in the course of his circling, I lost my balance and fell into the manhole. I suffered severe back, spine, leg, and ankle injuries. I am making progress in my recovery. I can now stand and walk for very short periods of time (no longer than about ten minutes maximum). So I must use a wheelchair whenever I travel outside my home. There are some limitations to my newfound freedom. Water getting into the motor of my chair could cause serious mechanical problems. Therefore, because I cannot always be sure of avoiding puddles, I must be pushed in a manual chair and must leave Caddo home during and immediately after a rain. The same is true during situations when I must travel by car, including days when my own physical stamina will not allow me to tolerate a long trip by bus or paratransit. Having said all that, Caddo and I go to many places by ourselves on many days. I treasure each trip we can make independently, alone, with complete privacy. I owe so very much to The Seeing Eye. Before needing to be trained with a wheelchair, I learned everything I know about working with a guide dog successfully from The Seeing Eye. I never wanted to switch schools, and had it not been for this accident, I never would have done so. I hope Caddo's working life extends to many more years. But one day, I hope to be able to have the choice to return to The Seeing Eye, whether I can once again walk without pain, or whether I am still in a wheelchair. The Seeing Eye has had faith in me ever since they gave me my first dog, a lab shepherd female cross named Kara, in 1975. I have had five terrific dogs, all from The Seeing Eye. Caddo is the fifth. In addition to Kara, all my other dogs: Vinnie, Jesse, Iliad, and Caddo, have been magnificent male shepherds. After my accident, The Seeing Eye boarded Caddo and worked him and kept his skills sharp until he arrived at Southeastern for wheelchair training in August, 2000. Even though The Seeing Eye is not yet equipped to do full-scale wheelchair training, they are supportive of my efforts and are sharing the burden, with Southeastern, of providing my follow-up services in Dallas, my hometown. Because The Seeing Eye did such an excellent job in breeding Caddo and laying such a superior foundation of guide training, and because Caddo did so well at Southeastern, I have been informed by Southeastern that they plan to use Caddo as the standard against which all dogs trained for wheelchair guiding work in the future will be judged. What an honor to The Seeing Eye! It is truly deserved. I owe such a tremendous debt of gratitude, also, to Southeastern. Southeastern is the only guide dog school in the United States which trains dogs to guide blind people using power wheelchairs on a regular basis. Southeastern was under no obligation to accept me for training, of course, but they did, and not only did they accept me, they treated me as one of their own. Up until Southeastern trained Caddo, it had been unheard of for any guide dog school to accept into its program a dog which had been bred and trained by another school. Southeastern could have refused to train Caddo and asked me to accept one of their dogs instead. From what I have seen, their dogs are every bit as good as The Seeing Eye's, of course, but I love Caddo. Had they not trained him, I would have had to give him up, and, on top of the physical and emotional pain of my injuries, this would have been devastating. But Southeastern did train Caddo, and they provided Caddo and me with one to one instruction during the 26-day class period. They also custom designed his harness, making it higher on one side than on the other, giving the handle a significant offset, and adding S hooks on both sides to increase the harness length and to give Caddo more room to maneuver, especially in tight places. With these adaptations, Caddo also has the best possible chance to stay clear of my wheels. Before I was reunited with Caddo on March 20, 2001, I could not go anywhere alone. I had to depend on others always to push me in a manual wheelchair. Southeastern has given me the priceless gift of increased freedom of independent mobility, and, the more places Caddo and I go, the more we practice, and the more skilled we become, the more our self-confidence and independence increase. Compared to the 2000 NFB Convention, when I had to be pushed everywhere at the convenience of others, this year's convention in Philadelphia was fabulous! For as long and as often as my pain level would permit, Caddo and I went wherever we wanted to, whenever we wanted to, by ourselves: to meetings, to restaurants, on the elevators, to and from the relief area. I wasn't brave enough to try the exhibit area, and we did require help from a Southeastern representative into the banquet, get situated at our table, and leave when the banquet had ended. But convention for me was a thrill and very liberating! Caddo even helped out once with some intelligent disobedience. With all the noise, I did not hear that we were about to get on to the escalator. Caddo stopped dead and refused to budge. Suddenly, I realized my error. Southeastern spent thousands of dollars to purchase my power wheelchair, something they do for all students needing wheelchair training. This is, of course, a real benefit financially for most students. Still another benefit is that Southeastern carefully chooses the best and safest chairs it can find. My chair has anti-tip casters in front. It is very sturdy, and in order to tip over, I'd almost have to do it deliberately. While I was in class, they went out of their way to meet my needs and make me as physically comfortable as possible. They even equipped my bed in the dormitory with a special air mattress which massaged my body, providing me with much-needed pain relief so that I could sleep. Indeed, following my accident, I have not slept that well before or since my Southeastern class. Not only has Larisa Scharikin, my instructor from Southeastern, come to Dallas to assist me, but, since I am the first person The Seeing Eye has worked with using a wheelchair, Southeastern has helped Seeing Eye instructors understand how they can best assist me in Dallas. I am proud and honored to be a graduate of Southeastern, and I will do all that I can to "give back" to the school in every way that I am able. In the 72 years that people have been using guide dogs in the United States, Caddo and I are the first team to have graduated from two schools during our working lifetime. I am extremely proud of and fiercely loyal to both my schools. I hope this is just the beginning and that we will see more co-operation in all kinds of ways between guide dog schools. I also hope that at least one or two more guide dog schools, including The Seeing Eye, will develop quality wheelchair training programs. Working with a guide dog is not for every blind person in a wheelchair, but neither is it for every blind person who can walk. Southeastern has 16 wheelchair users currently on its waiting list, and the odds are that, as we baby boomers age, more of us will experience accidents or illnesses which could require us to use a wheelchair either temporarily or permanently. I urge every "Harness Up" reader to find out more about this, from me and from Southeastern, and then, if you think this is something your school could and should be doing, please encourage them. Because I've been asked so many questions about it, I want to spend the rest of this article covering three topics. First, I want to tell you how I prepared for class. Secondly, I want to tell you a little about my actual class experience. Finally, we all have those little "gems," those humorous or slightly annoying encounters with the sighted public that we enjoy sharing with our friends at parties. I'll share some of the best ones with you. Trust me, when you're working in a wheelchair with a guide dog, those encounters rise to a new art form. Pre-class Preparation. I received my power wheelchair in mid-January, 2001. This gave me two months to practice traveling in it and to become comfortable with it before arriving for class on March 19. Southeastern could not really make many suggestions on how to become proficient. I'm not sure whether any of their previous students told the school how they had prepared. So, being a teacher and being very analytical by nature, I developed a "curriculum" for myself, so to speak, and I am writing out the steps I took and sending them to Southeastern. Southeastern can share what I did with future students, who can then decide for themselves whether to accept, reject, or modify my ideas as they see fit. My preparation program consisted of three distinct phases. During the first phase, I practiced traveling from room to room in my own apartment. I very quickly learned the space requirements needed to maneuver my big chair. One time I got stuck between the bed and the dresser and had to leave the chair there until somebody could come move the bed to give me room to get it out! Centering my chair to go through doorways proved a challenge at first. I made myself practice going through doorways backwards and forwards. I also did the same with the ramps leading up to my outside door. I first went through doors that were already open. Then I progressed into situations where I had to open the doors (both push and pull type) and work the chair through, holding the door open with hands, arms, and sometimes feet. Normally as blind people we don't worry about what's behind us, having just traveled safely through that area. But when you go through doors in a wheelchair, you have to listen in front, to both sides, and behind to make sure you have left enough room on either side so that the back wheels clear the doorway without hitting it. I found that I had to develop the same kind of spatial perception to "hear" objects from a seated position that many of us used as children to ride tricycles and bicycles. I got to where I could roll among and around the furniture in my home without hitting anything. As my skills and confidence increased, so did my speed. I must confess I began playing "chicken," driving faster and faster toward walls and closed doors, seeing how well I could hear their approach in order to judge my distance so that I could stop close enough for my hands to reach out and touch them without hitting them with the chair. I did well every time except one. I became a little too cocky one day, and the next sound I heard was the crunching of metal wheelchair foot plate biting into wall sheet rock! Looking back, I can honestly say that five good things came as a result of this disaster. First, I learned right then that a power chair stops as soon as you stop pushing the joystick (a valuable lesson in later traffic checks with my dog!) Since I stopped the moment I heard the sickening crunch, the damage was not as great as it could have been. Secondly, I was not evicted! Thirdly, the maintenance men repaired the resulting hole in my living room wall with relative ease. Fourth, I became more humble and cautious as well as more confident. And finally, months later, it was not I but rather Larisa, my Southeastern instructor, who took a ramp too fast and crashed my wheelchair into my closed front door, necessitating the total replacement of the door. My landlady, having survived wheelchair-inflicted property damage once before, was neither shocked, surprised, nor angry. I was still not evicted! The Great Outdoors. The next phase in my preparation was to travel outside my home. At first I tried using a long white cane. I understand this works for some blind people using power wheelchairs, although a mobility instructor who specializes in teaching cane travel to people in wheelchairs has told me that very few of his students attempt crossing streets without assistance. For me, I found the use of the cane annoying. In all fairness, though I am glad of the cane skills I have, I never enjoyed the period between dogs when I could walk without pain. Even then, I always found cane travel to be too slow and too demanding of my concentration as compared with using a dog. Now, however, working from a wheelchair, I faced new problems using a cane for very long. I am right-handed, but the joystick is on the right side of my chair. This meant that I had to learn to arc the cane using my left hand as I drove. Sometimes I ran over my cane accidentally. Also, because of my type of injuries, it became too painful to constantly reach out beyond my foot plate and front wheels to arc my cane so that it would give me enough warning when I was approaching an obstacle or the edge of the sidewalk. I found it more comfortable to check with my feet to verify my distance from edges or obstacles and make the necessary corrections in my driving. At first, I had to stop my wheelchair and reach my feet out beyond my foot plate. Later, I learned how to extend my feet without running over them while the chair was still moving. For those who don't have use of their feet, a cane is a very helpful tool. I even found that, though I couldn't conveniently drive and use a cane at the same time, I could stop my chair and use a folding cane in my right hand just to check out the situation for a second or two. For a while in class, even after I had Caddo, in addition to checking with my feet, I would sometimes get out a folding cane just to check briefly why my dog was stopping or whether he was maintaining a safe distance from edges or staying far enough to the left in country work. I just found that in my situation, too much prolonged use of a cane would have been too tiring and too painful, and it certainly would never have been a suitable substitute for a dog. By the way, for anyone wanting to use a cane at all in wheelchair work, I recommend the cane made by Ambutech, a Canadian corporation. It has a roller ball tip, which means that it won't get stuck in sidewalk cracks and grass the way a traditional cane tip sometimes will. Ambutech's toll-free number is 1-800-561-3340. Their address is 34 De Baets Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R2J3S9. Their e-mail address is I should add here that during this part of Phase Two, I never crossed streets alone. Later in this second phase, as an alternative to using a cane or using my feet, and in order to be able to consistently travel faster and to gain experience crossing streets, I would ask sighted friends to walk with me. I experimented whether it was better if they walked ahead of me, behind me, or to the left or right. In my case, no one position proved to be consistently any more helpful than the others. At first, my friends had to warn me when I got too close to edges or obstacles. As my ability to use my hearing and spatial perception to detect objects increased, I was often able to hear them approaching from further away and make course corrections to avoid hitting them before being warned. As time went on, I needed fewer and fewer warnings and could sense and avoid more and more things on my own: shelves, people, and shopping carts in narrow store aisles; tables or bookshelves in the library; tables and chairs in restaurants; newspaper boxes, fire hydrants, and telephone poles on sidewalks; parked and idling cars in parking lots. During this second phase, a friend and I decided to go eat at Denny's Restaurant. Denny's is across West Northwest Highway from where I live. West Northwest is a busy, multi-lane highway. The speed limit for traffic headed eastbound from where I live is 45 miles per hour. To put it mildly, this speed limit is not always obeyed. There is a light more than a block away, but not at the intersection with my street. This is an intersection I would not cross alone on foot! But my friend assured me she could tell when we had the light, so I agreed to try. During this crossing, I had her walk several paces ahead of my chair so I would hear her and wouldn't veer. We were about halfway across West Northwest Highway when a car suddenly appeared from nowhere. My friend uttered the only smart thing she could think of. "Stop!" she screamed. "Now!" I did. We made it to the restaurant. But by then my confidence, though thankfully not my body, had taken a hit. She had to call her husband who drove me home while she drove my wheelchair home. Next day, I was back at it, though I never again did anything that brave, or that stupid. The "Juno Wheels" The third and final phase of my pre-class preparation is one that is familiar to nearly every guide dog user. You know the "Juno walk." I modified this practice, including giving it a different purpose than that which it's normally used for, and called it a "Juno wheel." I held the harness handle while various sighted friends playing the part of "Juno" held the body part. My wheelchair has quite a range of speeds, from one-half mile per hour at its slowest to four miles an hour at its fastest. I set the chair's speed at a comfortable walking pace for each friend. I showed each the right height to hold the harness, and off we went. Sometimes, as in the traditional "Juno walk," I gave the directional commands; at other times, I let "Juno" choose the routes. The purpose here was that whenever "Juno" made a turn, either to change direction or to lead me around an obstacle, he or she did so with no verbal warning. I had to feel what my friend was doing through the harness handle and respond accordingly applying only enough pressure to my joystick to make the appropriate turn required. We crossed streets, did sidewalkless travel, went through parks, and traveled in stores, malls, libraries, churches, and other indoor environments. It was during this phase that I learned that judging traffic flow sitting down is just as effective as judging it standing up, though you have to be absolutely sure which is your parallel and which is your perpendicular street. This is not always easy, since some wheelchair ramps face at a diagonal across the intersection and you have to line up correctly. In retrospect, I feel that the "Juno wheels" were the most valuable part of my pre-class preparation, and I am glad they received the lion's share of my practice time. Following "Juno" gave me a valuable advantage when I had to follow Caddo in class and respond according to his signals. The Class Experience All classes at Southeastern begin on a Monday, and students receive their dogs the next day. At the time that Southeastern purchased my chair, they also purchased another, which they use on campus for training purposes. This meant that I could leave my chair home and use the school's chair during training. This made traveling much easier, since, of course, I wouldn't have a dog to guide me yet when traveling to the school. So my instructor picked me up at the airport on Monday, March 19, and presented me with the school's chair upon arrival there. The first day, we had the usual welcome by the staff and the usual chance to orient to the building. Three of us got our dogs Tuesday morning. Two retrain students who were only going to be in class for two weeks got their dogs first, and then I got Caddo. Everyone else received their dogs Tuesday afternoon. I am aware that at some schools, the dogs are introduced privately to the students in their rooms. At The Seeing Eye, the dog is introduced privately to the student in a lounge. At Southeastern, at least in my class, the introductions are a cause for community celebration. The whole class was in the lounge and got to watch as each person met his or her dog for the first time. I worried about this. I was afraid that Caddo wouldn't remember me, and then I'd be upset and cry and look like a fool in front of my class. Luckily, it didn't happen that way. He immediately leaped into my lap, put one front paw on each of my shoulders, covered my face with kisses, whined and made happy puppy noises. I had waited through more than a year of separation for this moment. Somehow, I made it to my room before I cried tears of deep joy. I found another of Southeastern's practices different from what I was used to. At The Seeing Eye, students begin training in town right away, the next morning after receiving their dogs. This is not the case at Southeastern. The first week is spent entirely on campus. Southeastern feels there is value in student and dog learning to "read" each other and learning to stride out together with confidence before being introduced to the added hassles of traffic and crowds. besides Southeastern has a Freedom Walk with curbs, benches, and many other obstacles like those you find in the "real world," and this gives lots of opportunity for varied practice. I'm not saying that one approach is better than another is, just different. As adept as I had become at following "Juno" in my wheelchair, I needed a little time to distinguish when Caddo was taking me around something and when he was distracted and trying to go off in another direction. Sound familiar? Also, those first few days, his signals weren't as definite as "Juno's" had been. I needed to learn to trust him. But he also needed to learn to trust me, because I certainly was not as skilled with the chair as Larisa, his instructor, had been. Sound familiar again? In fact, the first day I ran over him with the chair, and that scared me. Also on the first day, I did something I still can't believe I did. Caddo was walking along. "Praise him," Larisa commanded. It didn't seem to me he had done anything especially praiseworthy, but then, I was more focused on my own nervousness than on him. "Why?" I actually asked. (Did I mention that Caddo is my fifth dog?) Can you imagine asking your instructor "why" when he or she tells you to do something so basic? It was not one of the smarter things I can credit myself with having done in my life. She was actually pretty nice about it, and my head was not separated from my body. In fact, we laugh about that when we reminisce about class. Later that week, Caddo hesitated. I guess Larisa could see that he was going to make a move to take me around something. From my perspective, it seemed he was just standing there. "Go with him," she said. Boy, did I hear that a lot! I wanted to scream, "But he's not going anywhere! I'd go with him if he'd just go somewhere!" But this time I remembered where I was and that my mother had once said something about discretion being the better part of valor. I restrained myself. "I'll try," I said, trying to smile. I said that a lot. So I appreciated not having to contend with street vehicle and pedestrian traffic that first week. Beginning in the second week, the class worked in the towns of Palmetto and Bradenton. From there, we progressed to successfully working two days in Tampa and a day in Sarasota before the class ended. We also had two mandatory night trips during the class. My instruction essentially paralleled that of the other students, except that I had my own individual instructor. When they went to the mall, I went to the mall. The only difference was that I learned how to get on and off elevators, and they practiced escalators as well as elevators. When they worked barricades on the streets, so did I, but whereas their routes required them to step up and down curbs when crossing streets, the school made sure that I worked on intersections with ramps. They rode the bus, and so did I. But I went on a different day, and whereas they used the steps, I used the lift. One of my proudest moments happened on the last day of class, when Larisa asked me to do a solo several blocks in length. Solos are not generally required at Southeastern, though students can request them. I guess since Larisa used to work at The Seeing Eye, and solos are required there, she required one of me. Wonder of wonders, I didn't mess up! I remembered the route. I followed my dog. I praised my dog. I even did some problem solving of my own, like getting the wheelchair unstuck from a big crack in the sidewalk which Larisa later said she had forgotten was there. I also had to disentangle myself gently from the old lady who wanted to tell me stories about every dog she had ever known. "My instructor will be angry," I lied in desperation. "I know she's watching somewhere. I have an assignment to complete. I'd love to talk, but I really must go!" It worked. I felt like I had passed some sort of final exam. There was hope for me after all! Caddo and I really could make a new life with me in this wheelchair! "Caddo, we're alive!" I shouted triumphantly as we sailed down the last block. "We did it! GOOD BOY!" I was delighted when Pete Lang, Training Manager for The Seeing Eye, came to visit earlier in the class and observed us for a day as we went on our trips. The mall was no problem; Caddo made it look easy. I was happy in the belief that Caddo and I were making a good impression, and I felt that our hard work and our accomplishments were obvious. But I wasn't so sure of that after my afternoon trip! I didn't know that I was about to take the next difficult step on the learning curve with my very next trip. Pete got to see what actually goes on in class. I was introduced to a nightmare route that afternoon. The sidewalks weren't straight. Some of them were peculiarly offset, and they seemed to go nowhere logical. There were wildly offset ramps at some of the intersections. There were other problems as well. I had encountered some of the situations presented by this route in other parts of town and in Tampa, but not all. I knew how to cope with some of the obstacles, but some were completely new and I had to learn new skills for the first time. It seemed that every block threw a variety of challenges and frustrations at us. I suppose I didn't do too badly for my first try on the route. I did at least remember to praise my dog! Pete watched me struggle mightily to learn skills that have, of course, become easier with practice. For example, when you're trying to line up in a wheelchair at a strangely angled ramp, you have to notice subtleties like which way your dog's head is facing (not just his body) and where your parallel traffic is (because sometimes the ramps face on a diagonal and you can really mess up!) and then you turn your chair accordingly. Guide training with a wheelchair is, of course, very achievable. But it is by no means a piece of cake. It takes a trainer with patience, creativity, ingenuity, and a willingness to work hard and spend the time it takes to do it right. It takes the right student matched with the right dog. As is the case with any guide dog team, but especially with a team using a wheelchair, it takes motivation and continued practice before, during, and after class. In class I learned the techniques needed for safe wheelchair travel with a guide dog, and, as instructors from The Seeing Eye and Southeastern help me map out accessible routes at home, I put these techniques into practice regularly. They include: When I ride up and down a lift on a bus or paratransit van, Caddo rides in my lap so his back feet and tail won't get caught. When I need to go through a door, I center my chair in the doorway, and, if it is not an automatic door, I open the door, hold it open with an arm, a hand, or a foot, drop Caddo's harness and give him the command "Go ahead" as I slow down my chair to its slowest speed. Caddo then goes through the door and waits for me to do the same. When I am through the door, I pick up his harness again, readjust the chair's speed, and we continue. In this way, there is no danger of running over him. Of course, we do not use revolving doors, because Caddo could get pinned and hurt between the moving door and the moving chair, even if the revolving door is slowed down. When we take elevators, I pick an elevator and center my chair in the doorway. I can no longer run to catch elevators when they open at the other end of the elevator bank, so, unless I am sure someone will hold the door, I stay put until the elevator I have chosen opens. Once it opens, and after everyone who wants to has gotten off, I work Caddo on to the elevator, using my hands and feet to reposition his body gently if necessary and to make sure he is as far back against the elevator wall as possible and I am not too close to him with my wheels. Since elevators vary in width, and I cannot always tell if there is enough room to turn around inside the elevator without pinning Caddo against the wall, I never do an about-face. Instead, I always gather his leash in my hand and back out when we arrive at our floor, pulling him out last. When I line up my chair at a table, I put the table on my right and travel along it until I reach our desired location. Then I turn and face the table, keeping Caddo on my chair's left until I am ready to put him under the table. This is easier for me than approaching the table facing it and trying to line up correctly without pinning my dog. If we cross a street and there is no "up" ramp, Caddo is trained to put his paws on the curb, then find the nearest driveway to use as a ramp to get out of the street. It's good to know whether there is a ramp or available driveway before you start across. If you get over there and the only choice for getting out of the street is an impossibly high curb, you've got to either recross the street and select another route or, as I did the only time I got marooned and was too terrified to think, thank God for the two strong men who appeared out of nowhere and very kindly lifted my 300-pound wheelchair up onto the sidewalk! Dogs who guide blind people in wheelchairs must demonstrate a thorough understanding of the principles of guiding first, before the additional training of working with the chair can be added. This is why service dog schools, if they know nothing about guide dog training, should not undertake this work. They train dogs for sighted people, and those dogs do very different tasks for their handlers which do not involve guiding. Service dogs for sighted wheelchair users are not required to maintain a safe distance from traffic, or make decisions about whether or not there is adequate room to permit a wheelchair to pass through an area safely. I will use an incident which happened after we arrived home from class as an example. We were headed down a street with the parallel traffic on our left. Suddenly, we came to a house with, apparently, a lot of visitors. Cars were parked all up the driveway, and other cars were parked so that they blocked the sidewalk in front of the house. An instructor from The Seeing Eye happened to be with me, and he was curious to know what Caddo would do. Caddo slowed, then stopped, analyzing the situation. As we all know, if I had been walking, he might have been able to step to the right, between the cars, across their lawn, and back onto the sidewalk. More likely, he would have faced the street, stepped off the curb, walked past the house till we came to open sidewalk, and stepped back up the curb to continue our travels. Neither of these choices was available to him with me in the chair. Without any word from me, he did a 180-degree turn in front of my chair so that he was now facing back the way we had come. This signaled me to turn my chair around. We backtracked to the previous house, where the driveway was unobstructed. Caddo used that driveway as a ramp to enter the street, turned back around to our original line of direction, and continued our travels past all the cars to the next clear driveway, which he used as a ramp to get out of the street. Sometimes Caddo amazes even me. Close Encounters of the Weird Kind As promised, I will conclude this article on a humorous note, citing several quick examples of the utter lack of thought by some of our sighted friends. These are not in any particular order of strangeness. I present them as I happen to think of them. Example 1. Before attending a concert at Southern Methodist University, I naturally called to find out if the auditorium where the concert was to take place had a wheelchair accessible entrance and, if not, where the nearest one would be. You know: the old "How do I get there from here?" question. After the gentleman tried repeatedly to give me driving directions, which I assured him I wouldn't need, he glibly said, "Oh, just come in at the box office entrance. It's right in front. Up just a few steps." I reminded the man that I'm in a wheelchair. I would need an entrance with a ramp. "Well, the box office is just up the stairs," he repeated. I tried again, explaining that wheelchairs, at least my wheelchair, cannot climb steps. To which he replied, "Well, they're just little stairs, and there aren't very many of them." For the sake of the reputation of this fine university, I hope he's not a student there, and I wish I were making this up. But all's well that ends well: I finally got the information I needed (from someone else, of course) and a very nice usher escorted me to the concert. Incidentally, the theater manager was going to escort me back to the entrance after the concert, and he did, by following well behind, because Caddo remembered the way we had come and reversed the route. The poor man had to trot to keep up. Example 2. Caddo and I were coming home from shopping at Target one evening. We were zipping down the street, minding our own business. Suddenly, a car pulled up beside us, the driver tapped his horn to get our attention, and then rolled down his window. "Hey, ma'am, with the dog! You're pretty smart," he observed. I happen to agree with him (at least, on most days when my brain works), but I wondered how he could tell at a passing glance. I didn't have to wait long to be enlightened. "Yep, that's a good idea," he continued. "Having your Seeing Eye dog riding along with you like that. Does that thing have a battery?" "Yes," I answered weakly. "Great!" he said. "When it runs out, you can just have him pull you." After dispensing that bit of wisdom, he drove away, no doubt very pleased with himself for his contribution to my welfare. I'm still not sure why he thought Caddo was "riding." He was, of course, walking in front of the chair and a little to my left. I am the one who rides. And for the benefit of anybody who thinks there's any chance that Caddo can "pull" my chair, the chair weighs 300 pounds without me in it and Caddo weighs less than 80 pounds, so the laws of physics argue against that. However, speaking of pulling brings us to Example 3. Example 3. I actually had to intervene to stop a heated argument in Spanish between two men. One had bet the other fifty dollars that my chair does not have a motor and that the dog was indeed pulling it. I hope the loser didn't have plans for spending that money. Example 4. A Good Samaritan hurried to open a door for me, when her friend stopped her with this sage advice: "Oh, you don't have to open the door. The dog will do that for her. Those dogs are amazing!" Well, in my opinion, these dogs are not quite as amazing as the misconceptions some people have. But I digress. Speaking of doors brings us to Example 5. Example 5. This has actually happened several times. People will rush to open a door when they see me coming. I always thank them politely for their offer of help, but then I explain that it's easier and safer to allow me to open the door myself and work my dog through it the way I have been trained. Most of the time, people respect that. Sometimes, however, they don't listen, and they just stand there with the door open, so I very carefully proceed through the door. What's really fun is when some of them have the inexplicable habit of positioning themselves right in the middle of the doorway as they hold the door, so there is barely enough room to pass through without hitting them. I haven't hit one yet, however. "Don't run over my foot!" a worried helper pleaded. I did not answer, and I did not run over her foot. But all this could have been prevented if she had listened to me in the first place. My other favorites are the people who tell me they'll open the door and then become frightened as I approach and allow the door to slam shut. Example 6. I was making a presentation about blind people and guide dogs to an elementary school assembly recently. The students had been told that I am a teacher. I asked the children if they had any ideas as to how I might know what my students had written on their papers. "Yeah, I know, Miss!" one boy volunteered enthusiastically. "Your dog reads them to you!" Ah, well. Educating the public about blindness cannot start too early. Example 7. I had just positioned my chair in an out of the way place to wait until a table became available in a restaurant. When I'm going to be stationary for a while, I turn the power off to avoid inadvertently hitting the joystick with my arm and moving the chair. I had forgotten to do this, however, and startled myself by moving the chair. "Turn it off!" I reminded myself, half aloud. Unfortunately, a gentleman seated on a nearby bench overheard me and remarked to his friend, "Why does she have to tell the dog to turn the chair off? Doesn't he know to do that?" "He's not responsible for doing that," I said. "He's not? Isn't he driving the chair?" my new acquaintance asked. I could not stop the irritated sigh that escaped from my lips. "Sir, if you'll notice," I said, "the dog is on my left. The joystick that operates the chair is on my right." No further comment was made. There is one plus about working with a guide dog from a power wheelchair, though. I don't know if it's because we move so quickly, or because my chair is large and looks imposing, or because people are too busy staring in disbelief at what they're seeing, but I get almost nobody calling or petting or otherwise distracting my dog in harness. It's wonderful! To contact me, you will find my address and phone number elsewhere in this issue. To contact Southeastern to learn more about their wheelchair program, please call them at 941-729-5665, e-mail them at or write to them at 4210 77th Street, East, Palmetto, Florida 34221. A Time to License? by Karla Westjohn "I don't think I'm discriminating," the landlord declared. "There are places for people like you." "People like you" meant blind people--more particularly blind people who worked guide dogs. Those places, I surmised, were any number of unsatisfactory establishments, but certainly not his apartment building. I found alternate housing, filed a complaint with the tenants' union, and filed a complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission. Six months later, as a second-year law student, I dissuaded the law school from interceding on behalf of a disabled man who was also allegedly the victim of housing discrimination. A resident of Section Viii Public Housing, he faced eviction because of his service dog. Well, not exactly. The "service dog" was an adolescent puppy from the Humane Society which the man had allegedly trained to do a variety of things. Basic obedience and good manners, apparently, were not part of the curriculum. The unhousebroken dog even defecated indoors during the appointment with the legal intern who investigated the matter. Far from being an "accident," such a thing was routine. The dog ran freely throughout the common areas of the complex, defecating, urinating, and destroying property. As his master said he would, he did bark when the phone rang. How could he miss? He barked nonstop throughout the appointment. "Your dog is so nice," the waitress said, as she refilled my coffee. "Nothing like that other one." I was sure I knew what "other one," but I asked anyway. The "other one" was a service dog notorious for his misbehavior. He had jerked his mistress's wheelchair down flights of steps, dragged her down the middle of the busiest streets in town, lunged and snapped at other dogs, and had begun to do the same to children. The restaurateur, afraid of a premises liability suit, had considered banning all working dogs from his establishment. Jazz's and my conduct--along with that of other guide dog teams in the area--dissuaded him from implementing that edict. His fear, though, was not irrational. Someone injured by a dangerous dog, even a dangerous service dog, in a public accommodation could indeed sue the proprietor for negligence in failing to protect him. The businessman, then, would be damned if he did, damned if he didn't. Sued by the service dog handler for refusing admittance, sued by the injured party for the bite. The premises liability suit, though, would reap larger damages. More recently, descriptions of the so-called trained dogs from the now-defunct Canine Vision were a real- life horror show. At best, they behaved like "outside" dogs brought indoors. At worst, viciousness and unsafe guide work accompanied that conduct. One dog, Sarah, urinated and defecated wherever she happened to be and destroyed the living room sofa. Nick, Sarah's replacement, had significantly fewer accidents but was aggressive to children. Other dogs dragged their handlers down stairs and into oncoming traffic, as well as growling and snapping at passersby. Perhaps the most dangerous innovation in so-called service work is the assignment of attack dogs, either permanently or for short periods, to battered wives, rape victims, and other crime victims allegedly suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. These dogs are not guards of home or business. They accompany the traumatized people, allegedly disabled because of PSD, to all public places, supposedly acting as a service dog by allaying the fear and stress inherent in that disorder. This idea overlooks the reality that in the hands of a person gripped by irrational fear and without sufficient training, an attack dog can be a deadly but unreliable weapon. The "pig on the plane," purportedly a service animal who alleviated her mistress's stress, is a travesty. The potbellied pig, all 300 pounds of her, did not rest quietly on the floor of the aircraft. She would not even sit still on three first-class seats. Instead, she ran through the rows of seats and bothered other passengers, barged into the galley and refused to leave, and attempted to force her way into the cockpit. When the plane landed, she defecated on the jetway and ran, squealing, through the airport. In all these cases, the owners of these miscreant animals have demanded access, claiming that the animals in question are analogous to properly trained guide dogs for the blind. Unfortunately, federal statutes like the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1988 amendments to the Fair Housing Act--together with their enabling regulations--have only muddied the waters. Unless access rights are clarified and service animals reasonably defined by law, public respect and goodwill, the true bedrock of equal access and equal rights, will erode. Accessibility for guide dog handlers began with goodwill and a realization, at least by some of our fellow citizens, of the value of our guide dogs in facilitating independent travel. That realization, together with the belief that all people should be able to use public ways and public accommodations, spawned the White Cane legislation for which Federation leaders worked so tirelessly. White Cane Laws are those state statutes which guarantee blind and other disabled people equal rights to use public ways and public accommodations, end the presumption of contributory negligence upon a blind person traveling alone merely because he or she is traveling alone, and guarantee access of guide dog teams to public facilities. Such laws epitomize the proper balance between the rights of a business owner to control who enters and uses his or her property and the rights of disabled people to use public accommodations. The White Cane Laws generally define the purpose of the dog. Most state statutes allude to a "dog trained as a leader or listener or other assistant." Many White Cane laws require that the dog be wearing a harness and permit the proprietor of the establishment to request to see some form of identification or credentials verifying that the dog is what she or he purports to be. Some state statutes also include the trainers of dogs used for guide or service work. The proprietor, under these laws, is required to make no accommodations whatsoever. The dog and handler are to be admitted under the same conditions applicable to all patrons. Like all other patrons who behave badly, a discourteous handler and the person’s unruly dog can be ejected from a public place. The right of entry for all other handlers, though, remains unchanged. The handler of a destructive guide dog can be required to pay for any damage his or her dog does to a public place or to the property of another individual. A guide dog handler unfairly refused entry or use of an establishment can sue civilly. In some states denial of access to a guide dog team is a crime--usually the least serious of misdemeanors-- which can result in a short jail sentence as well as a fine. Originally, White Cane laws dealt only with public places. Because dwellings are not public accommodations, housing was not covered. Thus, a blind person could eat in a restaurant, go to the post office, or even stay in a hotel with a guide dog, but if no one would sell or rent a dwelling to him or her because of the dog, there was no legal redress. To remedy this absurdity, some states included a fair housing provision in their White Cane laws. Others, like Illinois, passed separate Fair Housing statutes. The language of these statutes usually mirrored that of the White Cane laws. Refusal to sell or rent to someone because he or she had a guide dog or planned to get one, as well as evicting a tenant for the later acquisition of a guide dog, became illegal. A guide dog handler could not be charged the customary pet deposit because of the dog. The dog owner was, however, liable for any damage the dog did to the premises. As in other instances, federal statutes like the 1988 amendments to the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act has been a curse for competent guide dog handlers. Such laws define disability so broadly that even its existence can be litigated. Employers and businesses must make "reasonable accommodations" and need not tolerate "undue hardships"--whatever those are. A "service animal" qualifies as a reasonable accommodation, but the term can mean anything. No credentials are necessary. No definable training program is required. The airline permitted the obnoxious pig to fly because airline personnel were sure that she qualified as a "service animal" under ADA. The handler contends that the animal is needed to solve some problem associated with a disability. The objecting business owner contends that the animal's presence constitutes an undue hardship because it complicates the functioning of the establishment. Only litigation separates inept handlers and untrained dogs from well-trained dogs and considerate handlers. This state of affairs makes access rights for the latter more tenuous. One bad experience with a poorly behaved and badly trained dog could trigger a decision under the vaunted ADA declaring the presence of any service or guide dog in that situation--however well-trained the dog or considerate the handler--as an undue hardship. The opposite could also be true. A court could decree that the proprietor of an establishment must, in the name of reasonable accommodation, tolerate the most ridiculous of canine behavior. Only clueless lawyers and lobbyists would like that outcome. This is not mere theory. It has already happened. One recent federal case from Wisconsin (the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals) exemplifies the problem. A landlord attempted to evict two deaf women because of their Poodle, Pierre. They had acquired the dog after moving into the apartment and signing a lease prohibiting pets. Pierre had received training from no training school, but the women claimed he was their signal dog. They alleged that he carried notes back and forth between them--among other things. Other witnesses testified that Pierre had no training whatsoever. The case found its way into the legal reporters because the landlord had moved for summary judgment, a motion commonly filed after the completion of all discovery, arguing that no basis in law existed for the women's case. Summary judgment is just what it sounds like, a pretrial procedure which disposes of frivolous or meritless cases before trial. The court denied the motion, and the litigation continued. In another Wisconsin case, a woman, against the rules of her condominium association, acquired a Golden Retriever, who exceeded the association's weight allowance. She should be permitted to keep the dog, she argued, because she had survived breast cancer and was still suffering stress--her disability. The dog was a service dog because "he makes me smile." That case, certainly, would be easier to terminate via pretrial motions. The problem, though, is that such a motion would have to occur. Even meritless cases must be briefed and defended, costing the luckless party time and fees. Provisions exist, in state and federal courts, for attorney's fees and sanctions against those who file frivolous suits, but the suit must be frivolous indeed--unsupported by law or any good faith argument for the reversal, modification, or extension of law. Thus, the prevailing party victimized by ridiculous litigation might not be reimbursed for attorney fees, and one who files such a case might not be sanctioned. Already, guide dog handlers are paying the price. Ten years ago charging a guide dog handler a pet deposit was virtually unthinkable. Federal legislation including service animals, however, does not prohibit landlords from charging pet deposits. They just don't call them that. To avoid litigation, most landlords do not refuse to rent to someone with a service animal, however ludicrous the animal's job seems. Instead, because the training of such animals is often questionable, they require an amount of money, not called a pet deposit, to be placed in an escrow account to cover any damage the animal does to the property. Unless the applicable state statute prohibits such deposits, they are completely legal. When guide dogs were the only known service animals, ethical landlords did not contemplate such escrow accounts. Guide dog training was legendary. Guide dog handlers could explain their purpose. Usually, they could also document the training that they and their dogs had received. A return to such clarity is long overdue. If blind and other disabled people are truly equal, conforming to reasonable standards is not at all unreasonable. The Federation has never opposed standards. We opposed NAC, for instance, not because we opposed accreditation, but rather because we opposed an old boys' network which gave shoddy agencies and organizations a free pass. Our Braille bills exemplify statutes mandating high standards. The time has come to take an objective look at standards for guide and service dogs. Work with a guide or service dog is not, as some would have it, wholly an individual decision. Certainly, the choice to work with a dog is an individual one, but the very nature of the work mandates that the team come into contact with the public. The public has rights as well as the dog handler. A business owner or the operator of any public conveyance should not be required to litigate or accept absolutely any person and creature who seeks admittance. Age restrictions, the capacity of the handler to control and care independently for the dog, the dog's unobtrusiveness and complete uninvolvement with the property of others, and explainable tasks and training programs could and should form the foundation for legal rights of entry for any service or guide dog. State and federal government regulates driving, the entry into various vocations and professions, and various forms of recreation affecting the public. The state has an interest in service work. Sensible regulation is in order. The California State Board of Guide Dogs may not be perfect, but that imperfection does not negate the utility of ANY such board. Since federal laws regarding disability are in full force and effect, specificity about service work in an amended Americans with Disabilities Act or in that statute's enabling regulations is also in order. Competent guide dog users cannot afford too many more flying pigs. (Editor’s note: This article appeared as a two-part article in the September and November, 1999 issues of Dog World.) St. Agnes 1 By Toni Eames Prologue to Act 1, Scene 1. Curtain rises on a hospital room. Center stage is a bed in which a middle-aged woman is lying down. Door at back of room opens and cleaning woman enters. She greets patient, places her cleaning equipment near the bed and as she moves in front of the bed, her face shows amazement as a large Golden Retriever stands up and greets her with tail wagging. The look of amazement gives way to a look of delight as she moves forward to pet the dog. If this reads like the prologue to a play destined to open on Broadway, think again. This is not fiction, it is real life drama and portrays the scene in my hospital room on Thursday, March 26, 1998. The actual setting is St. Agnes Medical Center in Fresno, California. I am the middle-aged patient in bed. Escort, my guide dog, is the wagging Golden Retriever who greeted this hospital employee. In mid-February, I discovered a small lump in my left breast and subsequent tests indicated the lump was suspicious. In early March, a surgical biopsy confirmed the radiologist's suspicion that the lump was malignant. Since my mother and two maternal aunts had breast cancer, I was not unprepared for this diagnosis. I was in a high-risk category and the risk had become a reality. My surgeon, Dr. Meg Hadcock, suggested the preferred treatment was mastectomy. Realizing the surgery could not be delayed for long, I negotiated with Dr. Hadcock for a two-week postponement during which my husband Ed and I could meet our lecturing commitments. We were scheduled to take a twelve-day trip to do presentations at Tuskegee, Auburn and the University of Missouri veterinary schools, a national veterinary student conference at the University of Florida and the veterinary technician program at St. Petersburg Community College. During the trip, I stayed in close contact with Dr. Hadcock who responded sympathetically to my fears and concerns. I was one of those rare but fortunate Americans whose hospital experiences were limited to visiting others. My only prior hospitalization was 51 years ago, when, at age three, my tonsils were removed. Dr. Hadcock empathized with my need to not be separated from Escort during this traumatic time of my life. She assured me arrangements would be made to permit him to stay with me at St. Agnes. Based on prior discussions with Joe Langan, St. Agnes Medical Center's executive vice president, I knew this facility had a progressive assistance dog policy. On previous occasions, when Ed and I, accompanied by our guide dogs, visited hospitalized friends, Mr. Langan, an Irish Setter fancier, always welcomed us. Like Dr. Hadcock, he recognized the therapeutic and healing value of having Escort with me during my hospital stay. On the day of surgery, my friend Helen Shea picked Ed and me up at the crack of dawn to drive us to St. Agnes. When we arrived, Escort assumed his position at my left side and proudly guided me inside. Intake staff greeted him like an old friend. Three weeks earlier, he had become a noteworthy visitor while accompanying me during pre-op appointments. I glowed as receptionists, technicians and nurses greeted him by name. After being checked in and receiving my identification bracelet, Helen, Ed and I were ushered into the waiting room. Not knowing how long it would take for Escort and me to be a functioning team again, I gave my big dog lots of hugs and whispered reassuring words into his soft floppy ears. Of course, this physical contact also served to reassure me. Before long, the pre-op nurse came to fetch me and I left Escort with Ed in the waiting room. Following completion of the necessary paperwork, I was hooked up to an IV line, blood pressure machine and other monitoring devices. Ed, Helen and the Golden boys were then summoned to join me. Escort approached my bed and I was able to cuddle him until the surgical team appeared. Dr. Hadcock greeted Escort and assured him our separation would be brief. As they wheeled me into the surgical suite, I felt reassured leaving Ed and Escort knowing they would be there when I woke up. During the two-hour surgical procedure, Ed and Helen settled down in the waiting room. They shared feelings of anxiety and stress with others waiting for loved ones to emerge from surgery. Many of these fellow waiters sought permission to cuddle the Goldens. Invariably, a slight lessening of tension could be felt as these well-wishers interacted with the boys. A young brother and sister waiting for grandpa's return, derived particular delight in the presence of these available canine stress relievers. Their mom was also pleased to have their youthful energy diverted in such a constructive fashion. As I came out of my anesthesia-induced fog, my first sensations were of Ed patting my hand and Escort butting me with his nose. As pre-arranged by Dr. Hadcock, I was in a private room. Although barely awake, I directed Ed where to place Escort's Mutt Mat. Last year when Escort and I placed highest scoring local novice dog in the Fresno Dog Training Club's AKC sanctioned obedience trial, this mat was our trophy. Unused until now, it became home base for Escort. Initially, he wanted to sleep next to my bed, but we were concerned he would become tangled in the IV line and would be in the way of nurses needing to get to my bed side. Ed showed Escort the mat and requested him to do a Down Stay on it. Amazingly, after this initiation, he needed no coaxing to return to his assigned resting place. Always wanting to be in control, I was pleased with how smoothly things were progressing. Before entering the hospital, several dog-related plans had to be made. I packed dog food and bowls for both Escort and Ed's guide dog Echo. Wanting Escort to recognize this as a work rather than a play setting, I did not bring toys. While Ed was with me, relief breaks were no problem. Friends, Beth Shea and Linda Haymond, took on this chore while spending the night with me. Ed had to return home to care for Kismet, Nifty and Bonanza, the feline members of the family. Keeping St. Agnes' open door assistance dog policy in mind, I wanted Escort to demonstrate exemplary manners and decorum in the hospital. At home, he greets friends with extreme exuberance, emitting high-pitched squeals of delight. I also permit him to bark when someone comes to the door. Since many of his favorite people would be visiting, I was concerned he might exhibit too much enthusiasm when greeting these guests. I hoped he would not bark when hospital personnel knocked on the door or entered the room. Not to worry! Sensing the need to be on his best behavior, Escort was the picture of the true professional. Although not in harness, he greeted everyone calmly and quietly with controlled wagging of tail. One of Escort's special friends is Marsha Eichholtz, who, along with husband Doug Low, operate what has become Fresno's most renowned cookie shop. On each day of my stay, Marsha supplied three dozen of her delicious cookies. She believed that between the allure of her Doug-Out Cookies and the presence of two Golden Retrievers, the nursing staff would be drawn like magnets to my room! She was right! The first day of my hospitalization, I was more alert and energetic than anticipated. After Ed and Echo left for the day, Beth Shea settled in for the night. She fed Escort and took him out for his final relief break. Since visitors and nurses had not consumed all the Doug-Out cookies, Beth brought a supply to the night security guards. When Beth and Escort did not return to the room within what I considered a reasonable period, I began to worry. On her return, Beth reminded me that time had to be set aside for the security staff to have a therapeutic cuddle session with my lovable canine partner. On the second night when Linda Haymond, took on night duty, I was prepared for their long absence when Escort was taken out for his final relief break. During the day when people were in and out of my room, Escort would get up to greet them. However, when nurse Mary Ellen tiptoed in at 5 A.M. to take my vital signs, Escort thought this was still the middle of the night and simply wagged his tail while remaining stretched out on the mat. Having been initiated into the typical hospital wake-up procedure, unlike Escort, I could not fall back to sleep and used my time to phone my East Coast friends with progress reports. On the morning after my surgery, Escort greeted my husband Ed and friend Debbie Prieto in a low-keyed manner as they entered my room. After breakfast, Debbie and I took our first stroll. To my surprise, the IV pole turned out to be an excellent guiding device. This mechanism was set up like a walker. With Debbie in the lead, I held onto the pole with my right hand and to Escort's leash with my left. Sensing the need for extreme care in these early excursions, Escort walked slowly at heel, gauging my pace and stamina. During this and subsequent corridor strolls, visitors and other ambulatory patients admired his patience and loyalty. Within a short time, he became the most famous occupant of the fourth floor! One of the usual results of mastectomy is difficulty using the arm from which the lymph glands have been removed. Noting my extreme right-handedness, Dr. Hadcock initially thought I would have few problems. However, when she discovered Escort, like most guide dogs, works on the left, she expressed concern about my ability to work with him until I built up strength in that arm. Several other blind women with left side mastectomies I consulted reported the inability to work with their guide dogs for several weeks after the surgery. This temporary breaking of the partnership was a frightening prospect. Fortunately, my experience was different. After two days in the hospital, I was looking forward to going home. When Debbie, Ed and Ed's guide dog Echo returned to the hospital Saturday morning, they visited for a short time, then left to do chores. Feeling bored, I decided to try Escort in harness and see if he would maintain his previous cadenced gait which matched mine while guiding me down the hallway. My rationale was that if this didn't work, I would be close to my room or near the nurses' station and could go back. Once again, superdog came through! We took a leisurely stroll while avoiding other patients, visitors, meal carts and porta-potties. Despite all the information I received about limitations of being able to work Escort, here we were taking our first walk even before being discharged from the hospital! When Ed and Debbie returned to spring me, I joked that since hospital policy required leaving the premises in a wheelchair, I might want to give Escort a quick lesson in wheelchair pulling and convert him into a dual disability guide and service dog! It felt good to be going home. Ed and the dogs shared the back seat of Debbie's car with a profusion of flowers and plants. Although achy and still feeling battered from the double mastectomy, I got out of the car and Escort carefully guided me into the house. Kizzy, our Siamese, was the first to greet me, in the hope of receiving a food handout. Our tortoise-shell Nifty greeted me for the sheer pleasure of having me home again. Our newest cat, a brown tabby named Bonzie, still too shy to confront the excited dogs, did not venture downstairs for a home- coming greeting. Walking into the living room, my path was obstructed by a huge cardboard box. This was Ed's welcome home surprise. The day before my release, this enormous package had been delivered from FAO Schwartz, the famous New York-based toy store. With curiosity and excitement, I set about extricating this incredible gift. To keep the memory of our trip to South Africa alive (DW January 1998), Bayer Animal Health, sponsors of our veterinary school lecture tours, had chosen a unique get-well gift. This beautifully crafted lion is larger than Escort and now majestically rules over the other stuffed animals and animal statues from his perch on the living room couch. One of the most significant elements in the healing process is the knowledge that relatives, friends and acquaintances care and are supportive. I reveled in the daily outpouring of phone calls, e-mails, cards and gifts. One special token of love was the care provided by my friend Norma Foote. This 80-year-old retired nurse came to the house twice a day for the next two weeks to empty the post-surgical drains and record the output. During the next few weeks, Escort continued to guide me to post- surgical visits to Dr. Hadcock. As my chemotherapy treatments began, Escort and Echo became the darlings of the California Cancer Center. From receptionist, to nurse, to oncologist Dr. Chris Perkins, the Goldens have been accepted and respected for the role they play in enhancing the quality of our lives. Again, the presence of the dogs provides a feeling of comfort to other patients and anxious friends and family members. From the Surgeon's View Margaret Hadcock, M.D., F.A.C.S. Toni and Ed have invited me to give my perspective about how guide dogs affected my medical treatment of Toni during her recent hospitalization. I first met Toni and Escort, Ed and Echo, several years ago when Toni was referred to me for a medical evaluation. All patients bring something special with them - - their worry about disease, their trust in you, their unique health and life history experiences. Those who bring children or assistance dogs bring guaranteed delight to a medical office. It is tough to stay "uptight" around a dog. Escort and Echo are consummate professionals like their human partners. They exhibit an ease which comes after intensive training, much experience and generous love. The dogs' excellent disposition and behavior melts conversation barriers in the office waiting room and in the hospital surgery waiting area. In addition to being of help to Toni and Ed, they cheered many people sitting and waiting for news of their family's surgery results. Toni was able to pet Escort goodbye in the preoperative holding area and to say hello to him in the recovery room. She was able to ambulate down the hallway the night of her surgery safely with Escort. Escort understood her needs as regards ambulation far more than the hospital staff. Without Escort her ability to get around safely would have been severely limited and we know that walking is an important part of effective recovery. The dogs were quiet, affable, clean and utterly competent. Anyone could pet them for immediate gratifying tactile therapy. They posed no health risk to any other patient or staff, and Toni and Ed take excellent care of their partners' health. These guide dogs smoothed the difficulties of negotiating unfamiliar terrain and gave delight to those around them, including my children who walked them while I changed Toni's surgical dressings. It is difficult for me to imagine an objection to the presence of assistance dogs. I hope others will "see" the true value of these partnerships, especially in a medical setting. Despite our intensive training as medical professionals, physicians need to learn to be sensitive to and accommodate the unique needs of our patients. Toni and Ed Eames can be contacted at 3376 North Wishon, Fresno, CA 93704-4832; Tel. 559 - 224-0544; e-mail (Editor’s note: This article has been reprinted from The Seeing Eye Guide with permission. Dr. Holle is the Director of Canine Health Management for The Seeing Eye.) Canine Health by Dolores Holle, VMD Puppy Proofing Your Home The introduction of a dog to a new home is an exciting time for both dog and owner. While the owner concentrates on the myriad aspects of bonding to a new dog or moving to a new home, the dog is excited by the prospect of a new area to explore. Before bringing a dog into a new environment, it is a wise practice to check it out from a dog’s perspective. Literally having someone get down on all four and “think” like a dog or imagine the house from a dog’s perspective is advisable. Trace the path your dog will take into the house and sort out the potential trouble spots along the way. The living or family rooms are places where families typically spend a lot of time. Often the entertainment center is housed there and the family relaxes and snacks while watching TV or listening to music. Coffee tables are used to hold baskets of chips or pretzels and a variety of beverages. This presents an assortment of potential pitfalls. The dog will think the smorgasbord was placed there just for him and, if he’s a happy dog, just a few wags of the tail will clear that coffee table of all its con­tents. You’ll need to rethink the place­ment of decorative items as well as food items. Even the remote control can be mistaken for a chew toy, so keep it at a height the dog can’t reach, perhaps on top of the entertainment center. Children’s play toys will also be per­ceived as dog toys by your dog. Invest in a closed toy chest and explain to your children that any toys left about will be considered ‘fair game” by the dog. Board games and game pieces are also enticing if a dog is left alone in a room. These small items can become foreign bodies that lodge in the intestine and cause GI upset or obstruction if swallowed. Putting all games away when they aren’t being used, or crating and restricting your dog to a small area if you need to leave him alone, will help to protect both him and the environment. The dining room doesn’t usually present much of a temptation unless it is occupied, but the kitchen is another story. The kitchen is a haven for some of the best smells in the universe and your dog will feel an obligation to seek out each one. The primary areas to secure are the pantry the garbage and the under-sink area where cleaning agents are kept. If you have a walk-in pantry; make sure that its door can be securely fastened. Dogs have no trouble opening cardboard packages and even cans. Over-eating pasta or cereal can result in a life-threatening case of bloat. A tongue can be severely lacerated by a torn can, These hazards can result from a foray into the pantry or an attack on the garbage, so secure the garbage can as well. A cabinet with a childproof fastener will suffice. After dinner, when clearing plates, you might scrape plates into a small trashcan. that you can place far back on the countertop. Try to get “tempting” garbage out of the house and into an equally secured outdoor trash can as soon as possible. The area under the kitchen sink usually houses cleaning agents, all of which can be hazardous to health. Childproof locks are very useful here. At a minimum, you should make sure the door cannot be easily opened by a paw or muzzle. Another personal entertainment center for dogs is, oddly enough, the bathroom. Dogs think of the toilet as a waterhole so keep the lid down or avoid using any chemicals that are automatica­lly dispensed into the water. The bathroom trash basket is viewed as a treasure chest by many dogs since the tissues and cotton swabs they find there all have marvelous scents which remind them of you. Some dogs like to spread them all around or roll in them, but others are not content until they have eaten them. Keeping the waste basket on top of the back of the toilet or in the cabinet under the sink can help. The undersink area of the bath­room also needs to be secured with childproof locks due to the poisonous nature of the cleaning aids kept here. Many folks leave shampoo, conditioner; body lotion and soap on the bathtub ledge. A shower caddy can keep all these items out of dog reach. Tub toys will also become dog toys unless they are stowed away securely under the sink or in the linen closet. Both the bathroom and the bedroom are common sites for the stor­age of drugs. Don’t leave your prescrip­tion drugs in a location where your dog has access. Store drugs in the medicine cabinet or a drawer in your nightstand to help keep your dog safe. The laundry room is not without its own temptations. Here, too, laundry soaps, bleaches and stain removers should be kept in a cabinet or on a shelf height unreachable by your dog. The dirty laundry should also be kept in a secured hamper. Sweat and body odors can work some dogs into a frenzied appetite. Many veterinarians have had to perform surgery to remove underwear or pantyhose obstructing a dogs intes­tines. The scent of an owner can lead a dog to do strange things. The most hazardous area award would go to the garage because both poi­sonous and physical hazards abound here: tools, nails, staples, insecticides, fertilizers and deadly antifreeze. Invest in cabinets to keep these items contained and try to keep this area off limits to your dog. Finally, take a plant inventory before bringing a dog home and find out if any are poisonous - most garden cen­ters or nurseries will be happy to help. Either remove poisonous plants or move them to a height that is out of reach for your dog. Taking these steps to dog proof your home will provide a safer environment for your dog and a greater peace of mind for you. WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN… YOUR DOG'S INITIATIVE GETS YOU IN TROUBLE By Eugenia Firth Initiative in work is something I've always wanted in my dogs' work. In fact, I really need my dog to take initiative in all areas: street crossings, reversing routes, and locating the inside and outside of rooms, to name only a few things. However, what do you do when your dog's thinking and yours don't coincide. Dolly and I have been working on this very issue. Dolly is a very smart dog, constantly thinking of what I might want to do next. In most instances, this is a clear advantage for me, a person who has trouble remembering travel details. However, a smart dog requires the master or mistress to be alert to unwanted moves, such as diagonaling streets to save time and effort. At least, saving time and effort is how Dolly perceives diagonaling. Doggie logic says that diagonaling a street when one knows that you're crossing both streets of an intersection anyway is smart traveling. After all, as far as Dolly's concerned, she can just do the traffic checks for any cars that are there, and any others can just stop and wait for her. Human logic, on the other hand, is in direct conflict with this view of street crossings. Dolly did diagonaling a couple of times. Of course, I became alert to when she was doing so and took steps to convince her that my logic was the one to follow, despite her feelings to the contrary. Now, if I have parallel traffic on my left and I feel she might try diagonaling again because she has a notion of where we're going, I put the leash in my right hand and give little tugs on it to remind her of the meaning of the "straight" command as I'm saying it. If the parallel traffic is on my right, I don't do this, as it may encourage her to veer to the right. I sometimes insist that Dolly redo a crossing if I feel it's either sloppy or downright incorrect. Dolly hates to redo something, so in her case, that procedure helps. Some of my dogs, however, when forced to redo a crossing, had reactions that undermined the lesson. Bianca, for example, would go slower and act stressed because of the correction. She also got more stubborn, which made it more frustrating for me to redo it right at the moment. In her case, I found it necessary to wait until the next day to redo anything. Then there is the matter of changing the street that you want to cross. For example, I was in downtown Dallas at Main and Griffin. I had Main on the left, and Griffin in front of me. A lot of times, I turn left to cross Main to go toward work. However, this day I wanted to cross Griffin instead to go and get some breakfast. But Dolly had other ideas. When I told her forward, she decided I didn't know what I was doing, and that we ought to turn left and cross Main instead. Unfortunately, the light was not favoring this idea. Dolly did not get us near any of those moving cars on Main, but we crossed Main instead of crossing Griffin. I knew we had a problem while we were in the process of doing this, but couldn't determine exactly what the problem was until we reached the other side. The reason I was not immediately aware of what had happened was that she turned us very gently to the left. However, when the traffic ended up on the wrong side, I knew exactly what she had done. Correcting for this is identical for correcting diagonaling. Sometimes I have walked with someone else to assist in this correction by either working my dog through the same street crossing or by heeling my dog while walking with the person. I always give praise, in either case, when she does it right. However, this day I am describing, there was no helpful person present. Therefore, I had to make her redo it by ourselves. She even got a beautiful traffic check while in the process of redoing it, plus the wonderful traffic check we got when we arrived at my ultimate destination. Then there's another Dolly trick. This one is more difficult to resolve without changing your routes regularly. Have you ever had your dog start to make a turn while in the process of doing a street crossing, a turn that does not result in a diagonal or in crossing the wrong street? For example, if Dolly and I are at Commerce and Field, she knows that our work building is located across Commerce, but not across Field if you are standing with Field on the left and Commerce in front of you. When crossing Commerce, Dolly's doggie logic says we should start to turn right while still in the process of crossing Commerce. The solution for such a problem can be to vary routes so that she's not sure whether we're turning or not. Let me point out here that Dolly is actually a great worker. These are discussions that I had with my second dog who became an absolutely fantastic worker. Dogs like Dolly bring to us with their ability to think all the advantages of using a guide dog. The trick is to channel that initiative into positive directions. For example, in building work, I always want Dolly to show me landmarks. I want her to use her initiative to find the elevator. I want her to make reversals without me remembering all the details. This may encourage the afore-mentioned street crossing difficulties because it may create some temporary confusion in her doggie mind concerning when it's all right to make a choice and when it's not. Therefore, what I do is to be alert to times when inappropriate choices might be made and prevent those inappropriate choices from occurring in the first place, being sure to offer praise for choices. These appropriate choices include crossing a street correctly and pointing landmarks in buildings and elsewhere. I don't use stern correction to discourage Dolly from making a turn or pointing out something I don't want. For example, if she shows me the elevator and I don't want it at that moment, I just tell her "Good girl, but no," and then tell her to move on. In this way, she has been praised for finding something and showing it to me and I can choose to go there or not. If she refuses to move on, which doesn't happen often, then I correct her for not obeying the command to move on. In this way, she can associate the correction with failure to obey the command and not with the exercising of her brain power. Channeling this initiative has its rewards. I was in a hotel that I knew absolutely nothing about. My sister- in-law, Suzanne, and I went to breakfast. My sister-in-law was pushing Suzanne in her manual wheelchair because she did not have Caddo back yet. The way to the restaurant was particularly complicated, and I knew none of the turns to make going back. I wanted to see if Dolly could get us back, so when we left, I asked my sister-in-law to let us find the way back ourselves. Dolly remembered all the turns to get back to the elevator. At one point, she stopped, looked around, and decided which way we needed to go. Of course, she got lots of praise. Despite the work and occasional frustration involved in channeling initiative, I always will ask The Seeing Eye to give me a dog with the ability and the self-confidence to make problem-solving decisions. For me, mobility is a difficult subject. Although I don't consider myself clueless, keeping up with too many details frustrates me. Helping my dog to become a capable problem solver means I get lost less than I otherwise would and makes me feel better about going into unfamiliar situations. A Nose for News By Toni and Ed Eames This has been a very difficult column to write. We had so many wonderful and exciting things to share, but the horrible events of September 11 have placed a pall on our lives, as well as the lives of other Americans. As former New Yorkers, we had been in the World Trade Center on several occasions, and it is inconceivable that those huge towers are no longer standing. Lacking the visual input from television and newspaper photos makes their disappearance even more unbelievable! Many amazing stories of those who survived have been featured in the media. NFB's own Mike Hingson and his yellow Labrador guide dog Roselle appeared on the Larry King show and their escape was graphically described in a nationally syndicated newspaper article. Rudely awakened from her nap, Roselle, trained at Guide Dogs for the Blind, leaped into her harness and guided Mike and fellow worker Frank David to the stairwell. As they descended 78 floors, Mike became aware of the fire fighters and rescue workers passing him on their way up to assist others. He grieves at the thought that many of them were not as lucky as he was. Mike marveled that the crowd in the stairway moved quickly, but without panic. The stairwell was extremely hot and the jet fuel fumes made it difficult to breathe. Exhausted from their 50- minute descent, it took 10 additional minutes to cross the lobby and reach the street. Panting heavily, Roselle began gulping water from the puddles on the lobby floor resulting from broken pipes. Following the directions of emergency personnel, Mike, Roselle and Frank obtained shelter in a nearby subway station. We all expect our dogs to work through distractions, but imagine Roselle's steadiness in the face of screaming people, wailing sirens and clouds of choking dust! When we spoke with Mike in mid-October, he was relieved that Roselle showed no post traumatic stress symptoms! Unfortunately, we have less information about Guiding Eyes graduate Omar Eduardo Rivera who escaped from the 70th floor of the World Trade Center with his guide dog. If anyone knows Omar, please give us a report of his escape in the next Harness Up. We were originally scheduled to return home from Detroit on September 11, but the fates were with us when our schedule was shifted to return on the 10th. During this seven day trip, we flew to Atlanta to do a presentation for Delta Air Lines, Knoxville to lecture at the University of Tennessee veterinary school, Detroit to attend a board meeting of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) and Salt Lake City to do another presentation for Delta Air Lines staff. The last leg of the trip was like a dream come true! From the time Brad Scott, Seeing Eye field representative, dropped us off at the Detroit terminal, to the time we arrived home in Fresno, everything went so well we thought we were in air travel nirvana! To our delight, the sky cap took our tickets, indicated he was checking in two pieces of luggage, called us by name and asked if we wanted someone to escort us to our gate. Lisa, the escort, chatted with us as we walked through the terminal and did not even suggest the need for a wheelchair! Security guards were cool about us going through the checkpoint with our dogs setting off the alarm. Both of us were efficiently patted down while Lisa assured us she was watching Toni's purse and our carry-on luggage. Then, wonder of wonders! A gate agent came over, showed us to a seat and used our names. There was no suggestion our pre-arranged seats were being changed so we would have to sit in the bulkhead. This has been a continuing battle since Escort and Echo, our Golden Retriever guides, do not fit comfortably in this area. At Salt Lake City, two Delta staff members and two representatives of the escort service, greeted us and showed us to the room where we were scheduled to speak. Capping it all was a visit to their VIP lounge, the Crown Club, where we could relax and enjoy some goodies after the presentation. We've just heard that Delta Air Lines will be letting 13,000 employees go in response to the crisis faced by all United States air carriers but our hope is that many of those we have worked with to make air travel better for all disabled passengers, particularly those accompanied by guide, hearing and service dogs, will survive the cutback. IAADP's board meeting in Michigan accomplished its goals. Several weeks earlier, Board members Mimi Clifford with her hearing dog Emma and Quint Meenen with her service dog Lucky joined us at the Central Veterinary Conference in Kansas City. One evening, Veterinarian Bob Taylor of Animal Planet fame joined us in our room for a get-acquainted meeting. His niece Morgan is a puppy raiser here in Fresno. What a warm and delightful gentleman he is! The keynote speaker at the conference, veterinarian Marty Becker, a friend and mentor, delighted us when he quoted from his forthcoming book on the healing power of animals noting our contribution to the assistance dog movement. The chapter on assistance dogs concludes with a description of the feats of Kirby, Ed's former three-legged Golden Retriever guide dog who demonstrated to the world what a disabled dog could do for his partner if given the opportunity to continue working. Another highlight of this trip was having lunch with the renowned blind country and Western performer, Ronnie Milsap. Ronnie's concert later that evening was fabulous and we bought a copy of his newly released CD! Monday morning was the really big day for us--the Bayer sponsored breakfast press conference announcing the IAADP/VCP program. This Veterinary Care Partnership has set up a fund supported by five companies, Bayer, Friskies, Iams, Nutramax and Fort Dodge Animal Health, to provide financial help to IAADP members partnered with assistance dogs who are unable to pay high veterinary costs for their canine assistants. We have known of several cases where a team has been dissolved and the canine partner retired because the costs of diagnostic tests, medicines, surgery, etc. have been too high for the disabled partner to bear. The program, administered through veterinarians, will only be utilized in cases where there is a high probability the canine partner will be able to continue working. IAADP has worked very hard on this project and we are delighted these efforts are paying off. Ed, who even wore a suit, MCed the event and Toni, Mimi and Quint spoke eloquently about IAADP, the VCP program and their personal partnerships with their canine assistants. During this exciting event Chris Jacobi, Marketing Director of Bayer, announced the company was expanding its partnership with IAADP by providing Advantage, its flea control product to IAADP assistance dog partner members without cost. Veterinarians will provide the product at no cost to those with IAADP membership cards. The veterinarian will then contact Bayer for replacement of the product. This is another effort to reduce the financial burden faced by those of us seeking partnership with guide, hearing and service dogs. Those interested in joining this cross-disability consumer advocacy organization and receiving the benefits should obtain an application from the web site, or phone the Information and Advocacy Hotline at 586-826-3938. Two years ago, we were invited to speak at the conference of the Association of Veterinary Technician Educators held in conjunction with the World Small Animal Veterinary Congress. It seemed so far away, but in August we flew to Vancouver, British Columbia for the first ever North American meeting of the World Congress. Although we've been to Montreal and other parts of eastern Canada on several occasions, we never visited this dynamic vibrant western Canadian city. For the first four days we stayed at the Coast Plaza hotel, where we luxuriated in a suite! Although we could not appreciate the view, our 30th story balcony overlooked magnificent Stanley Park and the bay. With all of our extensive travels, we've never been in such a dog-friendly hotel. Learning about Escort's fear of fireworks, manager Linda Hagen, offered alternative accommodations for him in an underground storeroom during the scheduled international competition of these beautiful, but noisy displays. Realizing the storeroom would only muffle, not eliminate the sound, we chose to stay in our palatial suite allowing Escort to take cover under the night table. Apparently, the Coast Plaza was indicative of Vancouver's dog- friendly atmosphere. Most hotels accept pets, and the streets and Stanley Park were teeming with people strolling along with their furry friends. Moving to the World Congress hotel, the Pan Pacific, we were adjacent to the dock where Alaska-bound cruise ships picked up passengers. On our way to relieving Echo and Escort, we could hear the ship loudspeaker preparing passengers for a scheduled lifeboat drill! At our presentation, it was fun learning we had audience members from South Africa, England, Germany, Holland, Canada and the United States. Although we didn't have time for gift shopping during this trip, we certainly patronized many Vancouver restaurants. Bill Thornton, CEO of BC Guide Dog Services, joined us for lunch at a Thai restaurant, and we explored many ethnic eateries with other friends. Back in Fresno and always wanting to share things that delight us, we organized a theater party in late July to see the play Sylvia. Over the last five years, we have seen it twice before and thought friends from the Fresno Dog Training Club and guide dog puppy raisers would also enjoy it. The dog Sylvia, played by an actress, has a profound impact on the lives of a middle-aged couple. Six dogs at this small theater was newsworthy and a Fresno Bee newspaper reporter came out to cover the story. A lovely photo of Echo with the tip of his nose resting on the stage appeared in the paper the next day! Speaking of Echo, one hot evening he caused us a frightening few moments when he raced out the open front door and took off up the road. Luckily, we live on a quiet street, but even a savvy guide dog can become a traffic fatality. Aware of our plight, neighbor Henry Perea grabbed Echo as he raced back home. Henry is president of the Fresno City Council and, at the next Council meeting where Ed was testifying about a transportation issue, Ed jokingly acknowledge Henry's moonlighting role as dog catcher! The City Council chamber audience broke out into spontaneous applause for Henry's rescue work! As born and bred New York City-ites, we had little exposure to state and county fairs. All that changed when we moved to Fresno and we became regular visitors to the fair, where we could handle farm products, check out tractors and farm animals and sample the wonderful food sold by local vendors. For years, Fresno friends have encouraged Toni to enter her knitted and crocheted projects in the fair. This year she finally did it, and was rewarded with three blue ribbons! Although our Goldens were trained at Leader Dogs, we work closely with the Guide Dogs for the Blind puppy raising group here in Fresno. Several times a year, we accompany them on outings to our mall to demonstrate how graduated guides handle real life situations. Twice a year, the entire group comes to our house to learn more about how blind people live. We show them the Perkins, NLS talking books, adaptive kitchen devices and our voice synthesized computer. The puppies are also exposed to our four cats who teach them proper doggy etiquette! Despite apprehensions about the treatment of disabled travelers at airports, we've been on two trips since then. On October 2 we flew to Tulsa, Oklahoma without a hitch. Although there was no curb-side check in, sky caps were available at the Fresno airport. We did not face long lines at security or check-in counters, and, despite showing our identification several times, did not face any major problems. During this trip we spoke to veterinary students at Oklahoma State, veterinary technician students at Tulsa Community College and the staff of a major veterinary clinic. A week later we flew to Reno, Nevada to speak at the Wild West Veterinary Conference. Seven years ago, we attended this conference in San Diego where Kirby was posthumously inducted into the California Veterinary Medical Association Animal Hall of Fame. As we attended the ceremony for this year's inductees, the memory of that previous event brought back to us the fragility of the relationship we have with our canine partners. We gave Escort and Echo extra hugs and suggest you do the same for your faithful guides! Canine Concerns Committee at 2001 Convention By Ed and Toni Eames Once again, we assumed responsibility for setting up the guide dog relief area in Philadelphia and joined with NAGDU in making all dogs and their partners feel welcome. Our relief workers, Debbie, Linda and Delores, were old hands at the job. Fresno friend Linda Haymond assumed the role of volunteer coordinator and spent numerous hours at the NAGDU table making sure everything went smoothly. The three relief boxes set up in the Marriott garage were kept clean and became a gathering place for many of those attending the convention. Picking up after our dogs seems to be evolving into a matter-of-fact activity. Unfortunately, some Federationists still believe our insistence on picking up poop is an invasion of their civil rights, but this seems to be a waning position. Despite our best efforts and greater coverage by the relief workers, there still is the occasional non-complier who seems to take great delight in relieving his/her guide dog at 2 A.M.! This year 116 guide dog teams signed in at the NAGDU desk, an increase of 20 over last year. Those who signed in received Iams dog biscuits, Bayer's Advantage flea control, ALR Technology's audible monthly reminder magnet and Petco's folding plastic water bowl. Marion Gwizdala of Florida was the lucky winner of the $25 door prize offered by NAGDU. Toni recruited a fantastic corps of volunteers so there was always someone on hand to give directions or get us to designated meeting rooms. Some of these folks did double duty as dog sitters during our banquet. We would appreciate your writing to the four companies to thank them for enhancing our 2001 convention. They have been generous in their support and would appreciate your personal letters of thanks. Bob Stanford, Regional Veterinary Manager The Iams Company 20 Valley Forge Road Bordentown, NJ 08505 Chris Jacobi, Director of Marketing Bayer Animal Health 9009 West 67 St. Merriam, KS 66202 Bert Honsch, Executive Vice President ALR Technology Inc. 1201 Cornwall Avenue, Suite 203 Bellingham, WA 98225 Dan Galvin, Manager PETCO 4144 North Blackstone Fresno, CA 93726 MINUTES, Sunday July 1, 2001 Submitted by Eugenia Firth, Secretary The meeting opened promptly at 7 PM. President Whalen welcomed everyone to the meeting. Next, the school representatives introduced themselves. We would like to thank Guide Dogs for the Blind because they gave us a door prize for the meeting. Later, this door prize was given to Wayne Field. Guide Dogs of America gave their update. Steve Burkman presented the update for the school. President Whalen had everyone give a round of applause for Ed and Toni Eames with the Canine Concerns Committee who are responsible for maintaining the relief areas and recruiting and training the volunteers for other activities. She also reviewed Federation policy for guide dogs and proper procedures for relieving area locations. She also asked people to give information to us if they needed dog sitters later in the week. Some vets and vet students have offered to do a nail clipping session on Monday evening. Next, Ed and Toni gave their presentation on Canine Concerns issues. One of the volunteers is a dentist, and he offered to look at the dogs' teeth. Toni introduced the relief crew: Debbie, Linda, and Dolores. There was a $50 prize being given at the NAGDU table. Baer donated Advantage, scarves, and electronic medicine reminders. There were dog biscuits given by Iams. Linda came from California to help with the NAGDU volunteers. Also, Toni introduced Ayesha Vernon from the United Kingdom as attending the convention and our meeting. Larisa Scharikin was next introduced to speak about Southeastern's wheelchair program. She gave a brief history of the program. She explained how Southeastern and The Seeing Eye came to be co-operating together with Suzanne Whalen's wheelchair training. Then she gave information about guide dogs performing wheelchair work from an instructor's prospective. She explained what Caddo had to do to effectively guide Suzanne's wheelchair. Suzanne then explained this program from her viewpoint as a student. Both Larisa and Suzanne took questions. After this presentation, a motion was made and seconded to publish these minutes in Harness Up. The motion was passed. The registration table volunteers were recognized. These volunteers helped by making the registration process go smoothly this year, and we applaud their efforts. Next, Priscilla Ferris gave the treasurer's report. We have an ending balance of $2811.40. Some questions were taken. We had a discussion of whether the division should change the dues amount. A motion was made that we keep the dues at $15 per year. The motion passed. Then we raised the issue of substandard programs. Angela Johnson-O'Rourke, a Canine Vision graduate, gave a talk concerning this issue and her experiences with that school. After her talk, questions were taken. Then, the whole issue of special needs was discussed. Next, we discussed The Guide Horse Foundation, which chose not to attend our convention, though they received and accepted an invitation to do so. This organization, located in Kitrell, North Carolina, proposed the training of miniature horses as guides for the blind. Concerns on both sides of this issue were raised. We then discussed the possibility of setting up a website for the division. Pete Donahue sent Eugenia Firth the information just before convention concerning the price for the site. A motion was made that we establish the website. The motion was seconded and passed. Pete Donahue made a motion to establish a guide dog assistance fund. A discussion was held about this motion. Paul Kay wanted to make a motion to table Pete's motion. Paul's motion was seconded. The question was called on the tabling of Pete's motion. A voice vote was taken. The president ruled that tabling of the motion was passed. It was decided that Wednesday night was not a business meeting, and therefore, the motion could not be discussed at that time. Then, a motion was made to adjourn. The motion was passed, and the meeting adjourned at 10:37 PM. PFUI! By Suzanne Whalen As anybody who knows anybody from The Seeing Eye can attest, they have a correction word when a handler is really displeased with something his or her dog has done. This word is "PFUI!" The p is silent, and it's pronounced as if it were spelled "fwee." When I got my first dog in 1975, the instructor told us that it was taken from a German word which meant "shame." I don't know whether or not that's true. I've never heard that since, and this instructor is not there anymore so he can't defend himself, but it sounds logical to me. Anyway, I think The Seeing Eye is the only school that teaches this word. Caddo, having first been trained in Morristown, knows The Word and responds to it well. So, even when we were at Southeastern, I used it when necessary. This amused my classmates greatly at first. "Flea,” one of them said. "Why are you calling your dog a flea?" Remarks like this would be followed by gales of laughter. Well, call it the result of too much pain and too much medication if you want to, but I found myself thinking a few minutes ago about some amusing things we could do with this whole idea of PFUI. Now I know that when you say PFUI to your dog, you're generally frustrated, not amused. But bear with me a minute. It'll make sense. As readers of Dialogue know, there is a column in that magazine called "ABAPITA." "ABAPITA" is an acronym which stands for "Ain't Blindness A Pain In The Anatomy." People would send in stories about situations when something amusing happened, either to them or someone else. Usually these incidents came about as the result of a mistake related to the fact that one of the participants in the scenario can't see. At the end of the story, its author would write the acronym, "ABAPITA!" Just for a minute, let's put aside our philosophy about security, equality, and opportunity and about the fact that blindness is a characteristic and a mere nuisance rather than a handicap. All that is true, and our stakes (first-class citizenship) are certainly high and worth fighting for. But let's give ourselves permission to laugh, too. Let's acknowledge that sometimes funny things do happen to us that wouldn't happen, at least not in the same way, if we were sighted. Okay. Where does PFUI come in, you ask? Well, taking the letters of PFUI, P, F, U, and I, and assigning a word to each letter, I have come up with the acronym "Pretty Funny Unplanned Incident." My thinking is that many of us already write to dog related computer lists about humorous or cute things that have happened. Sometimes these are things that our dogs have done. Sometimes they are things that we have done which we wouldn't have been in a position to do if we weren't guide dog users. Sometimes, there are funny things other people have said or done. My idea is that instead of just posting these humorous stories to lists, people will also send them to the editor of "Harness Up!" She will choose five or six or more, depending on how many we get, and put these at the end of each issue. You know, kind of like Dr. Maurer concludes his Presidential Releases with jokes. After finishing the story, its author will write PFUI at the end, thus declaring the events just described to be a Pretty Funny Unplanned Incident. I will start this new column with some incidents that happened to me. I hope lots of readers will contribute to it in the upcoming issues. We all have different ways of identifying canned goods that work for us. I generally get a reader after I put away perishable groceries and, using sheets of labels that can be put into a Perkins, I make Braille labels and stick them to the right cans. During my second year of graduate school, I lived in a small apartment with an even tinier pantry and didn't have room to buy many canned goods at a time. In fact, I only had two small shelves for cans. I also didn't have a lot of extra reader money to use for things that were not related to academics. Therefore, I didn't bother to Braille label what few cans I had. Instead, I devised the system of putting six or eight cans of dog food on one shelf and six or eight cans of soup on the shelf above it. I avoided the problem of canned fruit and vegetables by eating fresh or frozen vegetables and fresh fruit. Of course, by remembering which shelf was soup and which shelf was dog food, and by keeping track of the numbers of cans remaining each time the dog or I ate one, I kept a very workable system. That is, at least until one day toward the end of graduate school. I had been rejected for my first teaching position by a large and growing number of school districts, and there was no sign of the trend reversing yet. On the day in question, I had still another interview, and I was already mentally preparing for the worst. I know that's not the best way to go into a job interview, but I think we've all been there at one time or another. To add to the stress, my morning classes ran late. In retrospect, since my job interview was on campus, I should have grabbed a bite of lunch near the university. Instead, I thought if I really hurried, and everything worked out just right, I could rush home across town by bus, fix lunch, and rush back in time for the interview. At home at last, I snatched what I was sure was a can of soup from a shelf. I opened it, threw the contents into a pan, added water, and put it on the stove to heat while I dashed to change clothes. (Remember, this was in 1977, before microwave ovens!) Pleased at how well I was doing on time, I ran into the kitchen to put my "soup" into a bowl. It was then that I realized my "soup" didn't smell just right! My suspicions aroused, I raced to the pantry and threw open the door. I counted the cans on the dog food shelf. There was one less than there had been before. With a sinking heart, I counted the cans of soup on the soup shelf. You guessed it: there was one more than there should have been. Of course, now I had no time to fix lunch for myself. But what was I going to do with this nicely heated dog food? Well, what else do you do with dog food but give it to your dog? I dumped the heated dog food into her bowl, put ice in it to cool it off fast to eating temperature, added crackers like I would have really done for myself if it were soup, and allowed her to revel in the luxury of an unexpected extra meal! Kara may have been a Lab shepherd cross, but her Labrador fondness for food was really indulged that day. Well, at least one of us got a hot lunch. PFUI! The second incident I will share occurred a few years later. I was still working with Kara. Things were going pretty well. I was by this time successfully employed as a public school bilingual teacher, and I actually had the means to take a vacation trip, something I could rarely afford to do as a student. I was going to a travel agency in Austin that I was using for the first time. I got off the bus and began the several blocks up Congress Street. Somehow I lost count of my blocks. I knew the travel agency's address, and I felt I must be close, but I wasn't sure what side of the street I should be on or whether I was in the correct block or needed to continue one or two more. I stopped a gentleman and asked him, "Excuse me, sir. Which way is Brown Travel?" "Why, ma'am, it's right up yonder," he answered eagerly, pointing. "I'm sorry, sir, but I can't see the direction you're indicating," I said. "Do I continue straight across the street? Is it in the next block or the one after that?" "Well, ma'am, it's right over there," my would-be guide informed me. I tried again. "Sir, am I crossing the street to my left?" I asked. In what can only be called exasperation, my "helper" almost shouted in his best Texas drawl. "Ma'am, listen to me! It's right over there! Your dog will read the sign!" Now, here is where I have a confession to make. At least I wasn't NAGDU President back then, so I don't have the added guilt of failing to uphold my office. I replied with a comment that I know must have set our public education efforts about blindness back at least fifty years. What's more, I enjoyed doing it. "Actually, sir," I said, "she cooks my breakfast. She makes my bed. She even types my reports. But she's having trouble learning to read. We're working on that." I had visions of this good old boy later at his favorite honky-tonk. "I saw one of them Eye Seeing dogs," he'd say. (Maybe he'd even call her "one of them blind dogs." "And you know what?" he'd continue. "That dog can type and cook and do all kinds of stuff. Funny thing is, she can't even read a sign!" PFUI! The final incident I'll share this time happened with my third dog, Jesse. Jesse was a very long- haired male German shepherd. He was also one of The Seeing Eye's larger German shepherds at the time, so, even when he was lying under a seat, he was hard to miss. I had stayed late at school one evening, preparing for the next day's lessons. Therefore, by the time I got on my last bus of the trip home, it was well after dark. Several blocks from my stop, two very drunk gentlemen staggered onto the bus and practically fell into the seat across the aisle from me. One of them was having trouble making the driver understand where he wanted to get off, but even with his slurred speech, I understood. Perhaps if I had just kept my mouth shut, this wouldn't have happened, but oh well, we must do our part to help humanity from time to time. "Sir," I volunteered, "just watch when I get off. Your stop is the very next one after mine." "Cool!" he exclaimed. Then after a moment, he said something that really should make us all wonder why our schools spend the money to employ biologists and geneticists and vets in their breeding programs. "I know what your dog is!" he slurred. "Oh, do you? Yes, he's a guide dog," I replied, completely mistaking where we were going. "Cool!" he slurred again. "I know that. I know what kind of dog he is, too." "Yes, he's a German shepherd," I answered. "Oh, no, he's not!" I was told. "I know how they made him." Now I was really interested. The facts of life taught by a drunk on a late night city bus can be very educational. "Really!" I exclaimed. "Oh, do tell!" "Well, his mother was a shepherd," my breeding program "expert" informed me, "and his father was a wolf!" Okay. I teach in an elementary school. I was not surprised the day a kindergarten class who had just heard the story of "The Three Little Pigs" passed me in the hallway. One of the children, spying Jesse, said to her teacher, "Look! There's the Big Bad Wolf!" But here was a grown man saying Jesse was half wolf. Just to make sure I understood how the breeding process really works, my "expert" continued. "You know," he said, as much to his friend as to me, "they do it the other way, too. This dog's father was a wolf. Sometimes the mother is a wolf and the father is a shepherd dog." It seems that the only doubt that remained in his mind was where he should get off the bus. He kept trying to stand up every time the bus stopped. "Is this it? Is this Bolivar?" he'd ask, seriously mispronouncing the name of his street because his speech was so slurred. Every time he did that, I reminded him to sit down and wait till I got off and then get off at the next one. He'd sit down again and say, "Cool!" (This appeared to be his favorite word.) Then we were back to biology class again. "Yep, no doubt about it. His father was a wolf," he'd say. I don't think I'll suggest to The Seeing Eye any time soon that they hire this man as a reproduction specialist. PFUI!


President : Suzanne Whalen
Address: 9411 Mixon, Apartment 127
Dallas, Texas 75220
Phone: 214-357-2829
E-mail: President: Suzanne Whalen

Vice-President: Dana Ard
301 Bruce Avenue
Boise, Idaho 83712
Phone: 208-345-3906
E-mail address: Vice President: Dana Ard

Treasurer: Priscilla Ferris Priscilla Ferris
Address: 55 Delaware Avenue
Somerset, Massachusetts 02726
Phone: 508-673-0218
E-mail Address: Treasurer: Priscilla Ferris

Secretary: Eugenia Firth
Address: 1019 Martinique
Dallas, Texas 75223
Phone: 214-824-1490
E-mail address: Secretary: Eugenia Firth

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