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 by Suzanne Whalen 3
Editor's Notes by Eugenia Firth 5
Guide Dogs for the Deaf-Blind by Erin Dunn 6
A Nose for News by Ed and Toni Eames 9
DOGS AND STORMS by Elizabeth Campbell 13
Ayesha by Toni and Ed Eames 15
Token Dogs by Ed and Toni Eames 19
Division Minutes, 2000 22
National Association of Guide Dog Users Officers 25
By Suzanne Whalen, President
Hello everyone. It is May 5th when I am writing this. Except for those of you poor people who live in parts of the Rocky Mountains and are still wading through snow, the rest of us have survived another winter and are well into spring. Hurray!
If you have not yet made your reservations to be with us in Philadelphia, may I suggest that you put some hup-hup on it? I don't know how many schools use this term, but at least The Seeing Eye folks out there will recognize this as an urge to hurry. I am looking forward to seeing everyone.
We will once again have a NAGDU information table. You are welcome there any time. We will have it staffed by volunteers and by any and all of our own members who wish to work there. As was the case last year, if you stop by the NAGDU table we will give you all kinds of goodies, including a neat scarf and flea control if you need it. Back by popular demand, we will again provide dog sitting for people who need this service during tour day or for the banquet or other times as necessary.
Several new people have joined NAGDU since last year's convention. Welcome!
For your benefit and as a refresher for the rest of us, let me briefly restate a policy that the NAGDU board adopted last year with Dr. Maurer's approval. Dogs may not be left alone under any circumstances in hotel rooms. This includes in crates or on tie downs. People have asked me why it matters if their dog is crated since obviously a crated dog cannot destroy property or have accidents in the room. This is true, but a crated dog that is frightened can still bark and cry and howl and disturb other guests. Furthermore, the Federation has authorized the hotel to report to us any rooms found to have unattended dogs in them. The Federation has also given the hotel permission not to clean any rooms if the housekeeping staff opens the door and finds an unattended dog.
We shall try to co-ordinate again with the schools this year to provide orientation to the convention hotels. Once again, I would like to thank the Eameses in advance for the work they do at recruiting volunteers and paid staff to help maintain our relief areas. As always, lets help by doing our part by picking up.
Our business meeting this year will be on Sunday, July 1st from 7 to 10 PM. Registration will be set up at 6 PM. Registration has gotten bogged down in the past. We are trying two new things this year with the idea that there will be no one out in the hall at 7 PM. The first new thing is that you can pre-register and avoid the registration line altogether. Please do so if at all possible by writing to Priscilla Ferris. She needs your name, address, phone number, what format you wish for Harness Up, and your dog's name, breed, and school; she also needs your $15 membership dues. The second new thing we are doing is streamlining the registration line itself. We will be having two lines. The first is for people whose last names begin A through M, and the second for people whose last names begin N through Z. In this way, we hope to speed the process along.
Please do not miss our Sunday evening business meeting. Two of the topics should be of special interest. To put it mildly, The Guide Horse Foundation has sparked more than a little interest among our members, and we have invited its director to come and discuss her program with us. Members of the Agricultural and Equestrian Interest Group have been invited and are planning to join us for this portion of our meeting. So come prepared with your questions.
The second topic, which has created quite a stir, is training for blind people in wheelchairs who wish to continue or start using guide dogs. Many of you have been following the continuing saga of my experience with my dog, Caddo. As you know, I originally obtained Caddo from The Seeing Eye. However, several months following my accident, Southeastern Guide Dogs trained Caddo to guide me as I travel using a power wheelchair. In our own small way, Caddo and I have made history. We are the first guide dog team to be graduates of two schools at the same time, and we are now entitled to ask for and receive follow-up services from both schools. Many of our members, as well as others, have been very excited about the prospect of two schools co-operating in a major way like this.
Caddo and I will be rolling through convention this summer, and we are very much looking forward to it. So many people have expressed an interest that I have invited Southeastern to make a presentation on its wheelchair program. In the last fall Harness Up; I promised an article about my experiences preparing for class, attending class, and the adjustment period at home. However, because of many factors, including difficulty with timely shipment by the wheelchair manufacturer, I was not able to attend class in January as I had told you, but instead had to wait until March. Therefore, I will write a detailed article for the next fall Harness Up. I will just say now that I have begun to have some successful trips by myself at home in Dallas. It feels good to be able to go to the store and go to the library again, for example. These are things I have not been able to do independently for over a year.
Back once again by popular demand, is our seminar, "A Guide Dog In Your Life." We will once again have meetings geared to potential and experienced guide dog users although people are welcome to attend both. The date and time for this seminar is Wednesday, July 4th from 6 to 10 PM. One of the most fascinating presenters of the evening will be Norm Leventhal. He is assisting a guide dog school in Israel. Gigi and I have both spoken at length to him over the phone, and I think you will find what he has to say about working with a guide dog in Israel very interesting. Also, as we did last year, instructors from the various schools will be available for Juno walks during the seminars.
Caddo and I will see you all in Philadelphia. As president of this division, it will feel really great attending convention again with a dog! I can't wait!
By Eugenia Firth
In these pages, I hope you will learn about some of the many exciting things taking place in the guide dog arena. To help us in this learning process, I call upon other guide dog schools to submit articles for Harness Up about any of their programs. In that way, we can all be better informed when questions are raised by potential guide dog users. These are questions that I, as the secretary of NAGDU get all the time.
GUIDE DOGS FOR THE DEAF-BLIND
By Erin Dunn, Leader Dogs for the Blind
Ten years ago, Leader Dogs for the Blind began an official program for serving the deaf / blind community. Although persons with both hearing and visual impairments had been teamed with dog guides before, this was the first time a school designed a program specifically for this special need.
In 1985, Barbara Dekay arrived at Leader Dog. She was fluent in ASL (American Sign Language) and had lip reading ability. Even though Leader Dog had not established its formal program at that time, Barbara successfully trained with a dog guide. She also handed a book to an instructor, Keith McGregor, and urged him to read and learn. The book was about sign language. Although it would be a number of years before her advice was taken, the nudge from Barbara spoke volumes.
There are different conditions that cause a person to have both an audible and visual impairment. One situation is the occurrence of a trauma. There can be mishaps causing both a loss of hearing and of sight - sometimes two different incidents. The other, which the majority of our deaf / blind students at Leader Dog are afflicted with, is Usher Syndrome. There are three types of Usher Syndrome, Type 1 is diagnosed when a person is born profoundly deaf and with retinitis pigmentosa, which usually rears itself in early childhood or teens. With symptoms such as these, many of the individuals with Type 1 Ushers communicate with ASL, although before ASL was the common language, there was a lot of finger spelling and lip reading! Barbara's message to Keith was simple--learn these basics to better help your students and serve more of the community in need.
In 1989, Kathleen Spear graduated with her first Leader Dog. She became our first graduate from the program specifically designed for the deaf / blind community. Although the program was not fully developed at the time, Keith had heeded the advice of Barbara Dekay. Keith had learned sign language.
As time went on, although we were able to offer these additional services, it became evident that more education was needed to keep up with the demand. Attempting to juggle his position at Leader Dog, home life, classes, and homework, Keith was stretched too thin. The decision was made to put the program on hold while Keith concentrated on school.
After a year of study and practice, Keith had achieved fluency. Feeling more confident in Leader Dog's abilities to effectively serve the deaf / blind community, the program resumed. A little more than ten years later, Leader Dog has successfully matched and graduated 41 student / dog teams.
Many times when explaining the program to the general public, we are asked how is it possible to communicate, not only instructor to student, but student to dog? They are puzzled as to how you use sign language with a "blind" person. This gives us a tremendous opportunity to educate, not only on the deaf / blind program, but about visual impairments in general. It allows us the opening we need to illustrate the difference between total and partial blindness. Individuals, who are not exposed to persons with a visual disability, have little understanding of the variety of things that can affect a person's vision.
With a number of diseases causing or contributing to blindness, losing vision on a gradual progression often leaves the person with usable acuity, yet legally blind. This can also be the case when a trauma occurs. A student once told us, before receiving their dog, they were using their cane to travel to their bus stop. Once on the bus, a gentleman folded his cane, put on reading glasses, and pulled out a newspaper. He chuckled as he communicated the looks of bewilderment he received.
Another graduate traveling with his Leader Dog encountered something similar when in a public place. A man had asked to pet his dog and when his request was declined, the man proceeded to do so anyway. He was very startled when the graduate addressed him and repeated his request for the man to not distract his working dog. Agitated, the man grumbled, "You don't need that dog. You can see me."
Fortunately, the ignorance of others opens the door to an educational opportunity. Explaining the difference between total and partial blindness brings people one step closer to understanding diversity in society. Even within the visually impaired community, there are many degrees of sight loss.
Many times a student arriving at Leader Dog who is both hearing and vision impaired is afflicted with Ushers Type 1. Thus, many of them have remaining central acuity. Communication between Keith and the individual is done with ASL. He is careful to stay within the remaining visual field of the individual. If light does not permit traditional use of ASL, the student and instructor will revert to tactile signing.
How does someone with restricted vision and hearing cross an intersection safely? This is a common question. There are three primary methods used. If the person has some sight remaining, they utilize it to their fullest and rely on it to assist them with their street crossings. If no vision remains there are two common alternatives. The first is to play a continuous loop recording with a tape player. The recording indicates the person is deaf and blind and needs someone to tap them when it is safe to cross. The second choice is to carry index cards alerting other pedestrians to the same.
Although all our leader dogs are trained using voice and hand commands, the dog being prepared to lead a person who is both deaf and blind knows some minimal sign language. This trained guide must rely on hand signals as his/her main indicator as the direction the person wants to take. The use of signs for "sit" and "stay" are a few of the important commands that the dog needs to know and recognize. In most cases there is not much verbal interaction between the student and the animal within the working environment.
When our teams of instructors select the dogs they will train for the four to six month period, they rarely have their class schedule that far ahead. They work with a variety of dogs so as the class they will be working with is formed, they can match needs more specifically. The matching of a dog with a student who is both deaf and blind takes some additional planning. Keith knows who his students will be sooner. The matching is a little more precise because of the additional considerations that must be attended to with the students. Many times he is hand picking the dog to best suit that particular individual. The majority of the time a personal interview has been conducted with the deaf/blind student prior to their arrival to Leader Dog. This hands on information assists with a special assessment of needs.
Although all the programs at Leader Dog are valuable and exceptional in their makeup, the organization is especially proud to offer the deaf / blind program. The special attention to detail, the extra efforts put in by staff and student make it one of the most rewarding parts of our school.
Leader Dogs for the Blind will continue to serve the visually impaired and the hearing/visually impaired community for many years to come. The school is currently in the process of expanding this much needed program. One step taken in that direction was the addition of Tracy Schumann to our staff. Tracy is fluent in ASL and has a degree in Orientation and Mobility. As Tracy completes her three-year apprenticeship, she will work with students under Keith's supervision. Eventually, with her help, Leader Dog will increase the number of students that can be served each year in this one of a kind program.
A Nose for News
By Toni and Ed Eames
Again this year, plans are underway to have the best relief area for our guide dogs. The Marriott will have two boxes in an enclosed garage on the lobby level, accessed from a door near the concierge desk. The relief area at the Marriott Courtyard across the street will be outdoors, but under cover. Debbie, Delores and Linda will be back to assist with keeping the area clean, but we are all depending on everyone to pick up after our dogs and relieve him or her on a regular basis. Imagine how you would feel if your hotel room did not have a bathroom and you had to wait for some nice person to remember to offer the use of hers? Our dogs deserve extra consideration for their relief needs, too.
Last year in Atlanta, we experienced great success with our volunteer NAGDU table. If anyone needed help, volunteers were just a phone call away. This year in Philadelphia, we will have a similar arrangement with a table near the host affiliate table for the first few days, then outside the ballroom for the latter part of the convention. We would appreciate your signing in, at the table so NAGDU has an idea of how many dogs are present. This enables us to plan for future conventions. This sign up should not be confused with NAGDU registration before the scheduled meetings.
For those signing up, we have lots of goodies for you and your dog. Bayer has again generously donated green scarves to enhance the beauty of our dogs and ADVANTAGE to keep our dogs flea free. Other companies have contributed fabulous items we can all use. In addition, NAGDU President Suzanne Whalen has announced that a $50 raffle prize will be drawn from the sign-up cards.
Philadelphia has a top notch veterinary school teaching hospital and fees are discounted for guide dogs. This facility is open 24 hours a day and is located at 3850 Spruce St., tel. 215-898- 4680.
Since our last column, we have continued our wayfaring ways. In October in conjunction with the presentations we were scheduled to do for Delta Airline staff at LaGuardia and Kennedy Airports, we treated guide dog relief chief Debbie to a trip to New York City. We stayed in a hotel right in the heart of things, Broadway and 46th Street. Among our tourist activities were a Circle Line boat tour around Manhattan and the Broadway revival of Annie Get your Gun, starring Cheryl Ladd. It was a fantastic production.
Thursday morning, we were in the audience of the Montel Williams (daytime talk show) program. The topic was DNA testing in criminal cases. Before the show, Montel came over to meet the dogs and suggested we write him a letter about assistance dog issues. One of the guests was a 41-year-old black man who spent 16 years in prison claiming his innocence. DNA evidence finally cleared him of the rape charge.
It is so easy to get around in Manhattan--good public transportation, cheap taxis and wide sidewalks. While Debbie was fascinated by the throngs of people constantly on the move, Toni was overwhelmed by the noise and crowds. After lunching with the editorial staff of the American Kennel Club Gazette, we took the subway to Coney Island, Brooklyn, famous for its amusement park. Although already exhausted from walking earlier in the day, we strolled along the boardwalk, quiet and relatively empty at this time of year. We met Brooklyn friends, Paulette Nossen and guide dog Major, Bobby Feinstein and guide dog Harley and Howie Fink and guide dog Kramer for dinner in a Chinese restaurant. We were such an animated group, everyone in the restaurant knew we were old friends! We wish our California Chinese restaurants would learn to make New York style egg rolls! Weary from the day's activities, we took a taxi back to the hotel and the driver acted as tour guide for Debbie. She saw the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty all lit up. Toni went straight to bed, but Debbie and Ed went searching for bargains on Broadway. They bought a few souvenirs and found sweater selling for $2 each!
The weekend was spent with friends on Long Island. We relaxed, New York delicacies and enjoyed stimulating conversation. The trip was capped off when Delta again upgraded us on the way home to Fresno!
Every month at Fresno City Hall, Doug Jackson, a Fire Department administrator, sits in on our ADA Advisory Committee meetings. When he learned many blind committee members had never been to a fire house, he arranged a hands-on tour of Fire House 3. On November 9, five Federationists were given the royal tour by members of the fire house staff. Ed was disappointed when they would not let him slide down the fire pole! All of us were able to examine the fire trucks, with their many gauges, ladders, hoses, Jaws of Life, axes, etc. We took turns having our pictures taken in the driver's seat of the fire engine. The heavy clothing worn by the fire fighters fascinated us and we sympathized with their need to wear it during our 100 plus degree summer days. We were pleased to learn how many women have become part of the fire fighting force. Two of the six members on call that day were women. Each six person crew spends 24 hours on duty followed by 48 hours off.
Kansas City was the site of our November trip. We flew out on the 15th and had dinner that night with friends Cindy Robbin and Bill Stephan. Their Australian Shepherd guide dogs are a tribute to the private training they have put on them.
Thursday was a work day! Our corporate sponsor Bayer sent a limousine to our hotel to drive us back to Bayer headquarters, where we did a luncheon presentation. Another limo took us to Kansas State University veterinary school, two hours away. This elegant mode of transportation can become addictive!
Associate Dean Ronnie Elmore, who has sat in on more of our presentations than anyone else we know, arranged for the dean and 20 other faculty members to join the students in the audience. Ronnie and his wife Carol drove us back to Kansas City with a dinner stop in Topeka. Ronnie is world-renowned as a leading expert on presidential pets and Carol is a leading expert on antique quilts, especially those depicting FDR's Scottie Fallah.
Friday the 17th was the beginning of the workshops for the Cat and Dog Writers conference. Paralleling last year, we brought with us more than 30 dozen cookies from our friend Marsha's bakery. Doug-Out cookies has become one of Fresno's premium products, and Doug-Out cookies are being distributed as far away as Disneyland in Anaheim and are being enjoyed on one of our local airlines going to Las Vegas. Prior to the conference, we received several e-mails asking if we would be bringing cookies again this year. Through Marsha's generosity we were able to provide a sugar fix for the 80 conference participants!
After the Saturday morning sessions, St. Louis friends Mark and Peggy Holly, joined us for our afternoon excursion to the cat show where Toni was able to handle a variety of pure-bred cats. Once again, our guides Escort and Echo were the token dogs among the 1300 cats being exhibited. That evening at the Cat Writers Association banquet, we were disappointed when our article, "A Gentle Goodbye," which appeared in Chicken Soup for the Cat and Dog Lover's Soul, did not win the top award.
Two days after Thanksgiving, we hosted a pizza party for 40 friends. We paid for this extravaganza with money received from a competing pizza restaurant. Dicicco's accidentally printed our phone number, one digit away from theirs, in a coupon ad causing us to be deluged with phone calls. The owner, Enrico, refused to accept responsibility for making our lives less than tranquil. Marsha's husband Doug came to our rescue! He used his lawyerly skill to obtain a settlement from the advertising firm which actually committed the goof. As his commission, Doug accepted a dinner treat on us at a Dicicco's restaurant. With the additional settlement money we decided to abandon Dicicco's and hold a victory celebration at a competing pizza place, Pizza Pit. For 40 of us, a variety of pizzas, bread sticks, fried mozzarella, soda and beer was a great way of spending that Saturday afternoon. Among our guests were five guide dogs. Needless to say, Stan, the Pizza Pit owner, was delighted with our choice!
Following such a successful pizza event, two months later, we achieved a major coup when we threw a surprise 70th birthday party for our friend Eve Hoopes. Eve, featured in our book, Partners In Independence, is the coordinator of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Fresno puppy raising corps. She has raised puppies for the past 30 years, and both her children and grandchildren have been puppy raisers. About 100 of Eve's friends and at least 20 dogs gathered to celebrate this great occasion at the Pizza Pit.
Our month of travel ended with a quick trip to Burbank. Debbie drove us the three-and-a-half hours so that Ed could attend the NFB State board meeting. While Ed and other members of the board tackled mighty topics, Toni, Debbie and several other non-board women had a day and a half shopping spree!
News in the guide dog world
Guide Dog Foundation announced the building of a new dormitory. This home away from home will feature single rooms with telephones, an exercise room and a computer center. Guiding Eyes has announced the opening of a new White Plains lounge.
John Byfield, pioneer of the innovative in-community training program at Fidelco, announced his retirement as Training Manager. The guide dog movement will not be losing his expertise since he will continue at Fidelco as a regional consultant. Pete Newicki has assumed the post of Training Manager.
Several state laws have recently been enacted compensating guide dog partners if their dogs are harassed or injured by a person or by another dog. Among these are New York, Massachusetts, Utah and Washington.
Would you believe? Until recently, Massachusetts had a law requiring muzzling of guide dogs upon request of business owners! Earlier this year this archaic law was repealed.
Toni and Ed Eames can be contacted at 3376 North Wishon, Fresno, CA 93704-4832; Tel. 559 - 224-0544; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
: Suzanne Whalen
Address: 9411 Mixon, Apartment 127
Dallas, Texas 75220
E-mail: President: Suzanne Whalen
301 Bruce Avenue
Boise, Idaho 83712
E-mail address: Vice President: Dana Ard
Address: 55 Delaware Avenue
Somerset, Massachusetts 02726
E-mail Address: Treasurer: Priscilla Ferris
Address: 1019 Martinique
Dallas, Texas 75223
E-mail address: Secretary: Eugenia Firth