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Harness Up Spring, 2002 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
EDITORS NOTES 1 PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE 2 LEADING THE PROCESSION 6 WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN& YOUR DOG SAVES YOUR BACON 9 TEAMWORKTHE HANDLERS RESPONSIBILITIES 11 CADDO AND THE CONFERENCE CIRCUIT 13 IN THE DOGHOUSE 17 A NOSE FOR NEWS 20 PFUI (Pretty Funny Unplanned Incidents) 26 DIVISION OFFICERS 27 EDITOR'S NOTES by Eugenia Firth I am pleased to note that this issue of "Harness Up" is comprised of articles from several contributors. There are a great variety of subjects covered as well. If I am re-elected again and am therefore editing "Harness Up" in the future, I plan to set memorable deadlines for submitting articles. They will be April 15, tax day, and October 31, Halloween. In this way, there will be no confusion about deadlines, and these should be dates everyone can remember. After all, many people need something pleasant to think about on tax day and a less scary diversion for Halloween. As always, I will accept anything except handwritten print although computer files are most welcome. If you would like to see any subject covered in "Harness Up" that has not been addressed, please let me know. I will either write the article myself, get someone else to write it, or ask you to write it. In that way, we can all be working to make this publication the best we can. PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE Hello again, everybody! As I write this, it is March 9. In Dallas, March certainly did come in like a lion! We woke up Saturday a week ago to a treacherous mix of hail, freezing rain, sleet, and later snow. This left, in some places, half an inch of ice on exposed surfaces. People around here are not generally accustomed to nighttime lows in the teens! Even though my dog, Caddo, is not called upon very often to exercise his skills on ice, I am glad he received his initial training in the winter. Normally, on dry pavement or inside a building, he is very definite when making turns, swinging into them with confidence and alacrity. However, when guiding my wheelchair through our frozen parking lot, Caddo anticipated the necessary turns beforehand and eased us into them very gradually. This gave me better control and minimized the chances that my wheelchair would spin out or skid. Speaking of skidding, on one occasion, several feet ahead of us, somebody was driving much too fast for conditions, as idiots are prone to do. The driver lost control and fishtailed crazily for a few seconds. Caddo and I were in no immediate danger, and I'm convinced that that's because he saw the erratic movement of the car up ahead and it looked weird to him. He slowed, then stopped. I responded with the chair, and we waited where we were till Idiot Driver regained control and drove away, no doubt to terrorize unsuspecting fellow motorists on the freeways. My own driving skills were severely tested as I maneuvered my power wheelchair up and down my ramps. When I'm entering or exiting my apartment, I have two ramps to negotiate, one at my door and one at the gate into the parking lot. I should add here that these are not your standard wheelchair ramps. I love my apartment complex, but this is one case where they literally constructed something on the cheap. These ramps are not concrete, but literally made of wood. There are no railings on either side, so one must be careful not to wheel off the edges. As the ramps themselves and the ground at their bottoms became ice covered, gaining traction became a challenge. Of course, driving down the ramps was no problem, really. I had to watch my steering and my speed, since going downhill on sheet ice can cause you to go much faster than you otherwise would at a given speed. But if you handle that right, that's just a cheap thrill. To avoid running over my dog, I gave him a command to stay at my door and then told him to come once I had gone down the second ramp. Oh, did I mention that at the ramp closest to the parking lot, you have to hold the gate open as you wheel down or up? But the real challenge is when I'm headed home and must go up both ramps! Caddo can push the gate open (because it opens away from us going toward my apartment) and go through it himself, so once he shows me the first ramp, on icy days only, I allow him to run on ahead and wait at my door as I drive my chair up both ramps. Let me tell you, I have gained empathy for sighted drivers trying to go uphill on ice! That whirring sound of your wheels spinning helplessly is more than a bit disconcerting! As I slid backwards, I had to focus my steering to prevent my wheels from dropping off the ramps' edges. This is the third ice storm we've had this winter, so I've had lots of practice. I am proud to report that not once did a wheel go over the edge. Through trial and error, I have learned how to adjust my body position so I can achieve the best distribution of my weight over my wheels to assist in gaining and keeping traction. Also through trial and error, I have learned how to adjust my speed dial and then tap my joystick to apply the right pressure in order to achieve enough speed to develop momentum but not go fast enough to cause me to skid. I'm getting better at this. The first time I was faced with ice on my ramps, back in December, it took me almost forty cold, frustrating minutes to drive my wheelchair inside. Now I can do it in less than a quarter of that time. Of course, thank goodness, we don't have winter storms around here very often, so next year I'll have to relearn this skill. Or, come to think of it, I could just make it a lot easier for myself by getting salt or kitty litter applied to my ramps at the first sign of ice. Ah, well. On to bigger and better things, like summer, and the NFB convention, to be held this year from July 3-9 in Louisville, Kentucky. Am I the only one being driven slightly crazy by this new convention schedule? But I digress. Our NAGDU business meeting will take place from 7 to 10 PM on Wednesday, July 3. Please note; this is important: Registration will take place outside the meeting room from 6:00 to 7:00. We will follow the same registration procedures as we did last year. You should be receiving a pre-registration form for the NAGDU meeting. Please complete it and send it in as soon as possible with your $15 yearly membership dues. For those unable to pre-register, we will divide the alphabet roughly in half. We will have two different lines, and the first letter of your last name will determine which line you get in. We will do our best to have several registration assistants to speed you right on through. We're not yet as good as those folks from the National Office who register thousands of us for convention, but we're working on it. Please arrive as close to six o'clock as you can. We're expecting the kind of big crowd that has become, I'm delighted to say, a NAGDU tradition. I am told by the National Office that we are the fastest growing division in the NFB. I hope that warms your heart as much as it does mine. We have a full agenda, as always, so the meeting is starting right on time, at seven o'clock. I'd hate to have you miss part of it because you're still out in the hall registering, so please, either pre-register or come as close to six o'clock as you can to register on site. In addition to the topics under discussion, this year's business meeting is important for another reason. All of this division's officers are up for election this year. Please plan to be present and vote. On Saturday, July 6, our extremely popular seminar "A Guide Dog in Your Life" will happen from 6:00 to 10:00 PM. We have information for new people interested in learning more about guide dog use. We also have topics of interest to veteran handlers. As usual, instructors from the various schools will take interested people on Juno walks. I want to call your attention to one highlight of the Saturday evening seminar about which I am particularly excited. Julie Deden is the Director of the Colorado Center for the Blind, one of our NFB centers. She will be explaining the CCB attitude toward guide dogs and their policy with regard to a student's use of his or her guide dog during classes and at other Center activities throughout the day. If you are considering seeking training at an NFB Center and you have a guide dog, or you know someone who is, you don't want to miss Ms. Deden's remarks. Please feel free to bring interested friends to this seminar, whether or not they are currently NAGDU members and whether they currently travel with a dog or a cane. We all get asked various questions about what our NFB Centers offer. Having Ms. Deden here to discuss the excellent program she leads in Colorado is a privilege. We will all profit from the important information she will share. Once again this year, we will offer dog sitting services. When you request dog sitting services, please keep the following five things in mind. 1. There is no fee for dog sitting services. 2. Unless you're being taken to the hospital, we really can't provide all-day dog care. There simply is no one available to do it. NAGDU officers and board members are in sessions just like everyone else. Instructors are troubleshooting with graduates from their schools. While we do have several volunteers, thanks mostly to Ed and Toni Eames, there is not an endless supply of these people. My mother used to say that money doesn't grow on trees. Neither, unfortunately, do volunteers. For the volunteers we do have, dog sitting is only one of the many services we ask them to provide. For example, they are busy helping people (both dog and cane users, by the way) with orientation. They are covering the NAGDU Information Table. The list goes on. 3. We will always provide dog care for people who need it during the banquet and on tour day. You have until noon on the day of the banquet (Monday, July 8) to let us know if you need a sitter. You have until the end of the "Guide Dog in Your Life" seminar on Saturday, July 6, to let us know if you will be needing a dog sitter for tours the next day. Obviously, the more advance notice you can give us, the better. Some people need to wait to get to convention to see how their dogs handle stress before making a final decision about the banquet. We understand that. But if you already know your dog will need a break, we're trying something new this year. Call me now if you know you'll be needing a dog sitter, either for banquet night or tour day. My number is (214) 357-2829. Or e-mail Gigi Firth, NAGDU Secretary, at and she will pass it on to me. I work closely with Ed and Toni to recruit volunteers, and if we can get an approximate idea before we come to convention of how many people will need sitters, we'll know some target numbers of volunteers to shoot for. Once we're at convention, we'll ask either that you call my hotel room or the NAGDU Information Table before the deadlines I mentioned if you need a sitter. Of course, you may also see me during the Wednesday evening NAGDU business meeting or the Saturday evening NAGDU seminar. You may also find either Gigi or me in the Texas delegation during sessions. Whether you've notified me in advance or are making your request for a sitter for the first time during convention, we ask that you confirm it either with my hotel room or the NAGDU Information Table by the deadlines given, so we can make definite sitter assignments. 4. We've talked about dog care during medical emergencies and on banquet night and tour day. What if you find out on the spur of the moment you have a long-lost friend or relative coming, and you want to go off with them for the morning, and for some reason you can't take your dog? I actually got such a call last year, one hour before the person wanted to leave. We really can't help in such a case. Please reserve those kinds of last-minute decisions for medical emergencies only. For special requests during times other than banquet night, tour day, or medical emergencies, we're requiring a minimum two-day advance notice, and we'll do our best. Again, the more notice you can give, the better your chances. Also, please keep in mind that, as a division of the Federation, our policy is to encourage our members to be in attendance at all general convention sessions. 5. One last thing about dog care at convention. Most people know about this policy, adopted two years ago not just by our division (since Federation divisions do not make organizational policy) but by the National Board as a whole. For those of you who don't know, perhaps because you joined the division after convention, this is the time for me to say it. Under no circumstances are dogs to be left unattended in hotel rooms. According to the negotiated agreement between the Federation and the hotel, if the hotel finds an unattended guide dog in a room, they are required to report it to us. Also, if Housekeeping enters a room and finds an unattended guide dog, they are not required to clean that room. Leaving the dog in a crate is not an acceptable way around this policy. It is true that a crated dog cannot urinate or defecate all over the room. It is also true that a crated dog cannot chew bedding and furniture or otherwise destroy or damage hotel property the way a loose dog can. But a crated dog can still bark, whine, cry, and howl, disturbing other guests. Sometimes dogs react very differently when left in a strange place than they do when left at home. Whenever I've had to deal with violators of this policy, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the individuals simply didn't know, and once informed, they did not make the same mistake twice. There are consequences for deliberately disregarding the policy, but we have rarely had to use them. This is because, as I keep saying and as we all know, most of us who use guide dogs are responsible handlers. So let me conclude this discussion of policy and this section of my message dealing with dog care on a positive note. Thank you, thank you, everybody! Last year, we achieved an all-time low in two categories. First, the number of unattended dogs in hotel rooms was way down, even from the year before. Secondly, the number of times where people simply left an accident without cleaning up was way, way, way down! If you have further questions about Federation policy regarding dogs at convention, or if you disagree and just want to talk about it, please call me or write me. My address and phone number are listed with those of the other officers. Whether you agree or disagree with this policy, please do use our dog sitting services as an alternative to leaving your dog alone. Trust me, your dog and the Federation will both be happier! I had the high honor of representing NAGDU in January at the joint conference of Assistance Dogs International (ADI) and the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) in San Antonio, Texas. Also, as a newly appointed member of the Consumer Advisory Board of REACH, an independent living center with offices in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Denton, I had the opportunity to attend the State Independent Living Council (SILC) conference in Dallas in February. I have reported on these events in an article elsewhere in this issue. Until we see each other this summer, may you and your loved ones, both furry and otherwise, have a delightful spring. Suzanne Whalen, President LEADING THE PROCESSION by Carmella Broome There are some days we hold in our minds forever. Far too often, those we recall most vividly are related to an especially sad or painful event, but we all have another collection of days firmly imprinted in our minds as well. We hold on to these because they were especially meaningful and beautiful. Many people might put their wedding day or the day their first child was born on such a list. We can look back on this set of memories and recall how good we felt during those moments. We mentally conjure up the details of these happy times when we feel especially discouraged or frustrated because they help us keep things in perspective and make us smile. These kinds of days don't come along often and that makes them even more precious. Each person's list of such days is as unique as the specific memories themselves but, thank God, we can all probably think of at least a couple of examples of such occasions if we try hard enough. For me, the day I received my Associate of Science degree from North Greenville College is near the top of my list of days worth remembering. It was a warm and sunny Saturday in May of 1997. I was standing outside a crowded auditorium among an excited, chattering group of college students wearing identical caps and gowns. My guide dog, Poppy, sat beside me, watching everyone calmly. There were a few students receiving their Bachelor's degrees but, since NGC had been a junior college up until recently and only had a handful of new four- year programs, most of us were receiving our two-year degrees. Someone from the Dean's office began working her way through the crowd, giving yellow honor's chords to certain deserving students. I knew I had earned one of those. I'd gotten A's in almost every class during the past two and a half years. I kept listening for my name and waiting for her to move in my direction, but she walked past me several times. "Maybe she hasn't seen me yet," I thought, puzzled. My dog usually made me pretty conspicuous in a crowd, but the woman was trying to look at her list, locate faces matching the names, and hand out chords all at once. She either hadn't spotted me or hadn't run across my name yet. That had to be it. Finally, she stopped beside me. "Carmella, you had the highest GPA of all the graduates who'll be receiving Associate's degrees today," she said, draping the honors chord around my neck. "That means you'll be at the front of the line and everyone else will follow you in." Me? I would be the one leading the entire group of graduates? I couldn't believe it and wasn't sure I wanted the responsibility. Poppy and I would be responsible for leading all the other caps and gowns to their seats and they would all follow us to the stage. I'd been in this auditorium dozens of times, as had Poppy. I knew how it was set up. But what if we goofed somehow? I would embarrass everyone and ruin the whole commencement service. I wasn't about to let my insecurities scare me into declining the honor, though. I had worked hard for those grades and was proud of the recognition they were now leading to. Besides that, this was an excellent opportunity to show an auditorium full of people that a blind person was capable of leading instead of following and could carry out the task independently and with dignity. Well, I wouldn't be doing it entirely on my own, I reminded myself. Poppy and I were a team. Working together, we would navigate the aisles and steps and cross the stage. I was pleased that everyone would get to see her doing what she did best. Since the day I met Poppy nearly a year before, I'd known getting a guide dog was the right choice for me. As I took my place at the front of the line and prepared to follow an usher into the auditorium, I was more glad than ever that I'd made that decision. As the pianist and an ensemble of brass musicians played the traditional "Pomp and Circumstance," we made our way slowly down the center aisle. My heart pounded as I thought of all the eyes focused on us. Family members and friends of the graduates had come from all over to witness their loved ones walk across the stage. The professors who had taught us were also there. My parents and sister were in the crowd of spectators, as were both my grandmothers and the man I'd been dating for over a year. Somewhere in the audience, my friend, Tina, who was one of Poppy's biggest fans, was also watching. We stopped in front of our seats on the front row and stood while all the other graduates filed in behind us. Everyone was invited to take their seats. Then, the choir sang. They sounded especially good today, I noticed. I'd been a part of that talented group of singers for three semesters myself and had sung with them at the commencement service my freshman year. Back then, I could only imagine what it must feel like to be graduating and wondered if and when that day would come for me. Now it had. This would not be the end of my career as a student, but it was a definite step in the right direction. After what seemed like an eternity of flowery words and speeches, those receiving associates degrees were called forward to line up next to the stage. I took a deep breath and prayed that legs, which had suddenly turned to Jello, would support me as I executed the route I'd been told to take. Following my instructions, Poppy guided all of us up an aisle, around the back of part of the auditorium, then down another aisle to the steps of the stage. After a few moments, my name was called. "Carmella Dawn Broome," NGC's president announced. "Poppy, forward," I whispered and we made our way up the steps and across the stage to where the Dean was waiting with my diploma. "Congratulations," he said, passing it into my hand. I smiled my thanks. Poppy and I crossed the rest of the stage, went down the steps, and squeezed past the music stands that filled most of the open floor between the stage and our seats. Relieved and elated, I sunk back into my chair. We had done it. Poppy and I had successfully completed the job we'd been given. What's more, I had been the first graduate across the stage. I was proud of myself for all the hard work I'd done to get there and proud of my Poppy for doing her part to make the moment possible. When I looked back on this day, it would mean much more to me than simply receiving a degree, though that in itself was enough to etch the occasion into my mind as a time of pride and happiness. It would also be remembered as a day in which I celebrated a wonderful feeling of independence and self- confidence. I earned my Bachelors degree from Columbia International University this past December and will be participating in commencement services in May. Like the last time, I will be wearing a cap and gown and will be surrounded by excited students. My family and friends will be among the proud spectators in an auditorium full of people. There will be "Pomp and Circumstance" and flowery speeches. I will be accompanied by a beautiful, capable guide dog named Maggie. I'm sure it will be another proud day for us and may just find a place on my list of special days worth remembering. No matter how great it is, though, it will in no way diminish the beauty of my last walk down an aisle wearing a cap and gown leading the procession. WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN& YOUR DOG SAVES YOUR BACON by Bibi Baum There can be a time when you might think that your dog is playing dangerous games during a heavy traffic check, but I have found that isn't true. I learned that the hard way back in November, 2001. November 2, 2001 started out like any ordinary day. That Friday afternoon, my friend Dale and I were going to run one errand and get my groceries from King Soopers. I decided to take Orleans along with me. I felt more comfortable having him with me when traveling outside. We walked down to Colorado Boulevard and Louisiana, where we caught a bus going southbound. I had completely forgotten to tell the driver that I needed the far side of Colorado Boulevard and Evans, so we had to cross over Evans from the northwest to the southwest corner. I pushed the crosswalk button and stepped forward to line up with the curb. Dale came up behind me with my shopping cart. We waited for the cars that were turning to finish turning. As soon as I heard the traffic on Evans Street going, I hollered to Dale, "We got it!" Dale said, "Yes, we got it!" I signaled Orleans to go forward. Suddenly out of nowhere, a lady in a car came barreling around the corner, making a fast right turn. She didn't even yield either! As soon as Dale saw what was happening, Dale began to holler, "Wait! Wait! Wait!" While he was hollering, Orleans had already begun taking care of the situation, by turning right in front of me. He blocked me and cut me off from getting hit by the mirror, which was close to my chest, maybe inches away from it! Orleans started stepping sideways, pushing me back as quickly as he could. The lady in the car looked at me, hollering and cursing me out. She acted like I was in the wrong when she was wrong for barreling around the corner and not yielding to a couple of pedestrians. Right there during that dangerous situation, I didn't want to stop in the street and praise Orleans. The only thing I could say to him was, "Orleans, find the curb." He ran us across the street, over running the curb in the process. I didn't even bother to correct him for running the curb. I learned that when the dog is trying to pull away from danger and runs the curb, don't correct him or her. I pulled off to the side of the sidewalk and bent down to hug Orleans. I praised him with a hug and kiss, including a "Good boy, Orleans! Good Boy!" People said that Orleans was scared at the time I'd almost been hit, but he wasn't scared. He was in a bad mood. I went sighted guide with Dale for the rest of the day. I wasn't about to try and force Orleans to work after that heavy traffic check. The next day when we went over to a friend's house for a birthday party, I was still was a little shook up. Orleans acted like nothing was wrong and proudly did his work. After that incident, it helped me learn to trust my dog more. At first, I wasn't sure if my dog was my team partner or if we could work as a team together. Also, at first I wasn't sure I could fully trust my dog. I think that after that close encounter, I started trusting Orleans more than I had before this happened. I knew that he wasn't going to let anything happen to us. I hope that when I get my next guide dog, I will learn to trust him more than I did Orleans at first. Since I retired Orleans because of medical issues, it's been lonely and hard. I still go out with my white cane and travel, but I am afraid when it comes to major street crossings. I fear that while crossing the street, a car might not yield for me and hit me. However, I can't let fear take over me. I have to be in control and make myself travel with confidence. TEAMWORKTHE HANDLERS RESPONSIBILITIES by Scott Haywood, Director of Training Eye Dog Foundation In most training disciplines, there is a progression of some kind that takes the dog from puppyhood or beginner to competition or street readiness. At every stage, from imprinting through teaching and proofing, the handler has responsibilities that must be fulfilled in order to get the most from each dog. Working a trained, experienced dog carries the same responsibilities. Many trainers and handlers are successful in the training levels but fall into the "but, he knows how to do this" trap. When trained dogs fail to perform as expected, a handler can become frustrated and angry. Working dogs will sometimes receive disciplinary type corrections for errors that are not necessarily deliberate refusal to perform. This type of handling error can often be avoided by learning to read your dog better. Confusion is the cause of more errors than is willful disobedience. Both members of the team have limits and responsibilities. A properly trained dog does the work willingly and consistently. There is almost always a reason that is sound, if only in the mind of your dog, for every change in behavior. One of the most important challenges for every handler is to understand the dog's point of view. This is equally as important in teaching new behaviors as in changing old habits. Since we are the ones with the supposedly superior mind, we have the obligation to help the dog understand our communications. Keep in mind, as with travel to a foreign country, speaking English louder does nothing to increase understanding. Since dogs have no understanding of a word in the dictionary sense, we have the chance to form whatever association we find helpful with any particular command. The handler's responsibility is to make sure the dog's mind is focused properly as the command is given and the dog is praised for correct performance. Timing and voice inflection are key elements of every exercise. Never assume the dog receives every message exactly the way you send it. When teaching a new command or response sequence, it is very helpful to break the exercise into small components. Dedication to teaching each component thoroughly before rebuilding the exercise will save much confusion and frustration for both you and your dog. Most trainers recommend using words and language that will come readily to mind when the handler is under stress. Be very aware of any intermediate commands or actions that affect the dog's understanding and perception of an exercise. Many of these will need to be dropped to achieve full points in competition or just smooth operation in real life. It is important to remove these extra cues carefully so as not to interrupt the dog's completion of the exercise. Build a thorough base at each level of training. A guide dog will be asked to perform the same exercise under a large variety of different settings with many types of distractions. This is especially important with respect to the "Find the &" command. For instance, a guide dog may "Find the door" many times each day. In many cases, each of those doors look completely different. Yet, we often expect the dog to find each one accurately with no difference in command. A handler using a guide dog in a large building with many doors would do well to give each of the specific doors used on a regular basis their own name. The dog will form their own set of cues and landmarks on the way to each destination. As long as the dog has sufficient information, they can often accomplish remarkable feats of guidance and location. This of course, does not relieve the handler of the responsibility of monitoring the dog's actions at all times. Accomplished guide dog handlers do this constantly without really thinking about it. In this manner, changes in their dog's behavior are usually readily apparent. The reason for that change and the way to fix it, if it is creating a problem, are sometimes harder to determine. Change of circumstances within a dog's regular environment is a common reason for a forced change in a dog's normal working habits. When attempting a change of habit, remember to think of the dog's point of view. For example, a person may need to temporarily change routes to a known destination because of construction. As that person travels the normal daily route, the dog expects certain things to happen. As the team approaches the point at which the route must change, the handler must be aware the dog has no idea anything is different until they actually see a reason to change. If, for instance, the handler has elected to turn left after crossing the street instead of continuing straight ahead due to mid-block construction, he or she must remember to give extra handling input due to the strength of the dog's old habit. The dog is planning to go straight ahead. Most dogs rely heavily on habit. In a new area, the dog will be more attentive to the handler's directions. In a familiar area, the handler has the responsibility to make sure the dog is listening and ready to receive new commands. If the change is more permanent, the handler must remember to begin to give the extra handling input before the team enters the area where the dog would normally commit to a particular course of action. This is especially important if circumstances dictate the same command be used when the action desired is different. If getting to your office now requires a left instead of a right upon exiting the elevator, make sure a good left turn is achieved before beginning the "Find my office" sequence. The handler should use all available skills and abilities to make sure the new action is performed correctly. Breakdown of the exercise and lots of praise and properly timed encouragement will be most helpful. CADDO AND THE CONFERENCE CIRCUIT by Suzanne Whalen When Ed and Toni Eames approached me last fall and asked if I would be a presenter at the IAADP conference, I was honored and delighted. IAADP stands for International Association of Assistance Dog Partners. Members of IAADP include disabled people who use a variety of assistance dogs. These include hearing dogs, psychiatric support dogs, seizure alert and seizure response dogs, and service dogs. There were a few guide dog users, like the Eameses. Some of the IAADP members train their own dogs. Others obtain their dogs from recognized programs. Also in attendance at this conference were several members of ADI (Assistance Dogs International). ADI consists of trainers of assistance dogs. Some members of ADI train at schools. Some members of ADI train their own dogs, and many of these are also members of IAADP. ADI continued its own conference after the IAADP conference ended, but many ADI members also attended the IAADP sessions. There was a very good mix of consumers and trainers present. The Eameses thought it would be educational and enlightening for IAADP and ADI members to learn about Caddo's guiding a totally blind person using a power wheelchair. I was given an hour for my presentation. I divided my presentation into three segments. During the first section, I highlighted the differences between what a guide dog does for me and what service dogs do for sighted people in wheelchairs. I accomplished this by first asking the audience to list some of the tasks dogs do either for them or for their students in wheelchairs. The tasks they listed are in no way related to what our guide dogs do for us. Examples include retrieving objects, pulling wheelchairs, opening doors, turning lights on and off, assisting their handlers to rise after they have fallen, and assisting their handlers to move from lying down to sitting up. Next, I engaged the audience in a brief dialogue. I asked them which member of the team (dog or handler) determines whether an aisle is too narrow for the wheelchair to travel down it. Naturally, as sighted people, they said they do. I pointed out that my guide dog must make this decision for me. I asked them who locates ramps and assists in lining the chair up at the lowest point available to cross streets. Again, being sighted people, they answered that they do, and again, I pointed out that this essential function must be done for me by my guide dog. I asked them, as they travel along in their wheelchairs, which member of the team spots obstacles ahead and determines the best route around those obstructions. Of course, they replied that they do, and I pointed out that a guide dog must do this for his or her blind handler, whether that person is walking or using a wheelchair. I finally asked them which member of the team maintains a safe distance from traffic, and they responded that they do. I wanted to be sure I understood this answer correctly. After all, the roles of the dog and the handler in traffic situations represent one of the key differences in the way guide dog teams and service dog teams are trained and in the way they function. So I confirmed with these sighted wheelchair users that, indeed, their service dogs assume no responsibility for traffic safety. Of course, in our case as blind people, we do bear some of the responsibility, but so do our guide dogs. I hope I helped the audience see why only guide dog schools should train dogs for blind people in wheelchairs and why service dog schools should never attempt to do it unless they have qualified guide dog instructors on staff. I hope I made clear the following points. First, a guide dog must learn traditional guide work with a walking trainer. If a guide dog is not sound enough successfully to complete traditional guide training, he or she is certainly not sound enough to deal with the added complications of wheelchair guiding. Secondly, only after a guide dog has demonstrated a thorough mastery of guiding concepts, he or she is then considered for wheelchair work, and the necessary additional training is begun. Thirdly, only a guide dog instructor, knowing what is required for guiding, is in a position to evaluate the dog's progress and comfort level with the wheelchair and adjust training schedules accordingly or reject the dog if necessary. I also hope I made it clear that programs should have staff members familiar enough with guide work to be able to provide the right kind of follow-up. I hope the audience understands that Southeastern Guide Dogs pioneered training blind people and guide dogs for wheelchair work, and, after almost a decade, Southeastern is still the only guide dog school providing this life-changing training. As I write this, I am also working on an article for the IAADP newsletter in which I will have one further chance to make these key points. I concluded the first segment of my presentation by explaining the history of how I came to use a wheelchair. I also took some questions from conference attendees. The second segment of my presentation was devoted to a demonstration. The day before I was to speak, I had asked that various types and sizes of obstacles (for example, tables, chairs, wastebaskets, etc.) be set at varying distances in the aisles. I deliberately took no part in determining how or where the obstacles would be placed. I wanted no knowledge of the layout, so I could not unconsciously cue Caddo when he was making guiding decisions. I wanted this to be a true test, to show our abilities in the real world. Someone followed me only to be sure that I went down every aisle, missing none, so that everyone present had a view up close. One aisle was totally blocked part way down its length by people providing captioning, I believe, for the deaf. The person following me tried to dissuade me from attempting to go down that aisle. I later learned in an e-mail from the conference chairperson that someone even thought about rushing ahead to move things because she didn't know what would happen if we started down an aisle and then couldn't complete it. In other words, this partially blocked aisle was not part of their planned obstacle course. However, it turned out to be the best part, because Caddo and I reached the obstruction before anything could be moved, and he did what Southeastern had trained him to do. He signaled me to turn my chair around so we could retrace our path. I knew at the time that people were taking pictures, but I did not know until hearing the e-mail that they were jumping out in front of Caddo as he was trying to work, and he was giving them reproachful looks. I also didn't know until later that because of Caddo's skill and our teamwork, we missed hitting a greyhound by inches. The dog was sprawled lazily in the aisle, refusing to move. We touched not one obstacle as we navigated through the ballroom. The final part of my presentation involved taking many more questions from conference participants. In addition, as an effective follow-up to the demonstration portion, I told some stories of situations in which Caddo had to use his initiative and his intelligent disobedience to keep me safe. I also explained everyday techniques we use in riding elevators, opening and passing through doors, crossing streets, riding wheelchair lifts on buses and paratransit vans, and situating ourselves at tables in restaurants or meeting rooms. Since the conclusion of the conference, I have been pleased to learn about the professionalism shown by a long-standing, well-established service dog school, Paws with a Cause, in Wayland, Michigan. When this school had a fully qualified guide dog instructor from Norway, they trained three blind people in manual wheelchairs. In all cases, these are people who need more than a guide dog. They also need a service dog to do the kinds of tasks service dogs do, such as opening heavy commercial doors, retrieving objects, and turning lights on and off. Paws with a Cause's founder has told me in a phone conversation that the organization has never been interested in serving ordinary blind people, or even in serving blind people with multiple disabilities if, like me, they do not need the functions of a service dog. I commend them for this. I also commend them for the fact that they realize that, for a blind person with multiple disabilities, blindness impacts on the other disabilities. They also realize that the most important job a dog working with a blind person has is safe guiding, regardless of whatever other jobs the dog may be trained to do. Furthermore, after the guide dog instructor returned to Norway, Paws with a Cause has displayed enough integrity to refuse altogether to train blind people needing combination guide and service dogs, at least until they can employ a qualified guide dog instructor. They recognize that their staff does not have the experience or expertise to teach traffic safety and other skills unique to guide work. While I do applaud this attitude of responsibility, I am concerned about what will happen to these three individuals if they should need follow-up related to guide work beyond the capability of the staff to provide. Also, in my opinion, this example underscores what I feel is a potential problem when service dog providers branch out into guide work. An integral part of any good program is follow-up. If the one qualified guide dog instructor leaves, follow-up cannot happen. Furthermore, how can the one instructor train apprentice guide dog instructors in such an environment? They likely won't receive enough practice training guide dogs to be really competent at doing it. Besides sharing information, I learned a great deal at the IAADP conference. As much as my pain level would allow, I attended conference sessions and interacted socially with conference participants during the evenings. Of course, I've been very familiar with guide dogs over the years, but I must admit my exposure to service dogs has been limited. I had never seen so many different breeds and sizes of dogs performing so many different tasks. I was fascinated! Some of the trainers demonstrated new products to assist dogs in opening doors with their mouths. There were also strategies demonstrated for teaching dogs to help raise people from a lying to a sitting position. I also saw some marvelous educational videos about access rights for assistance dogs, one targeted for hotel and restaurant owners and staff, and one targeted for law enforcement. I hope to show them at the NAGDU business meeting. These videos were both produced by the Hotel and Restaurant Association. This industry organization wants to blanket the country with these videos, and we can get them free to distribute to our local hotels, motels, restaurants, and police departments. All in all, this conference was a very worthwhile experience. Caddo and I had the opportunity to participate in another conference later in the winter. I have recently been appointed to the Consumer Advisory Board of REACH, an independent living center with offices in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Denton. This center had the task of hosting the statewide conference of the State Independent Living Council (SILC), and I attended this conference on February 25 and 26 as one of the representatives from our center. The hotel posed some access challenges for people using wheelchairs. For example, the lobby and some of the hallways were narrowed by the placement of decorative columns and planters, and the meeting rooms assigned to us were not large enough, so sessions filled up quickly. This happened in part because there were far more participants using wheelchairs than conference planners had anticipated. Of course, most of the power wheelchair drivers were courteous. But, as happens in any group, a few people were inconsiderate and careless, and Caddo had to deal with traffic checks inside the building! We didn't speak at this conference. We merely attended. Nonetheless, I would not have gone if I had been using my manual chair. Having Caddo makes my participation in events like this not only possible, but a whole lot easier! IN THE DOGHOUSE by JULIE ACTON (Editor's note: Julie is a graduate of Guide Dogs for the Blind Association of Queensland. This article appeared in her school's newsletter.) Those with children have frequently told me that there is nothing in the world that can even remotely prepare you for the myriad of challenges, rewards and exhaustions associated with parenthood. I would, however, on behalf of all guide dog handlers worldwide, like to disagree. While our canine children do not insist that we watch "Play School" with them twice a day for months, listen to their music, drive them to parties, or walk a discreet distance behind them when they're with their friends, they do indeed possess many of those traits and tendencies which serve to unite all children, both human and canine. Think about it: they frequently make us immeasurably proud and lead us to engage in heated "my child is better than your child" debates with other parents; they leave us feeling only half-dressed if we go out without them; they cause us to be far more concerned for their well-being than for our own; and they make sure that we know that even on the very worst days, we wouldn't give them up for the world. On the flip side, however, they also cost us exorbitant amounts of money; they refuse to pick up after themselves or help out with the housework; they cause us to become invisible in public while dozens of complete strangers gush enthusiastically over them while remaining seemingly unaware of our presence; and last but not least, they sometimes, when we are least prepared for it, engage in actions and behaviours in public places which leave us mortified and embarrassed--times I fondly refer to as "that is not my dog!" moments. I'm sure we've all had them! Those split-second impulses to drop our dog's leash and swiftly and silently exit the crime scene without the offending canine. Sometimes, however, though we rarely choose to admit it, we parents make mistakes too. We become careless, inattentive, impatient, and are sometimes left with the knowledge that the humiliating incident from which we are fleeing was probably as much a result of our own indiscretion as our child's. The good news is that in hindsight, many such incidents turn out to be quite amusing when being considered from within the relative safety and sanity of one's own home, so much so that the full degree of humour cannot be obtained without sharing the incident with other parents who just might be able to relate. I would therefore like to welcome you all to the "doghouse", the proverbial hall of shame for dogs and their handlers who are brave enough to confess their blunders and let us all share in the mirth of the situation. Perhaps you suddenly realised, after having waited in line at the bus stop for five minutes, that your dog's nose and half its head had disappeared somewhere up the dress of the person in front of you. Perhaps you enthusiastically praised your dog for stopping at a kerb, only to be informed by a passerby that your dog was in fact reading the last week's worth of neighbourhood doggie mail; or perhaps you began panicking wildly that your dog was seriously lame and unable to put weight on one of its forepaws, only to discover that the dog's leg was actually caught in the breastplate of the harness. Whatever the case may be, there's plenty of room in the "doghouse" for all of us! And just to prove it, Usha and I are going to check ourselves in this issue, and demonstrate to you that two heads are not always better than one, and two wrongs make an even bigger wrong, because as we all know folks, when it comes to working a guide dog, it's all about teamwork! Those who know me at all will probably know that grocery shopping is far from my list of pleasurable activities and hence is rarely considered a priority. However, in order that I remain healthy enough to take care of my dog's many needs, there does eventually reach a point when food must be obtained. On the contrary, Usha has always relished this task, and takes great delight in the busy shopping centre work--not to mention the simply tantalising sights and smells associated with any task involving the procuring of food. So here we are, navigating our way through a seemingly endless swarm of screaming, frenzied children, fuming, short-tempered parents, careering shopping trolleys, precariously-located clothing displays, and any number of other highlights of any shopping centre worth its salt. Here am I, enthusiastically encouraging Usha to find the counter, (the service counter to be exact) which is the ultimate target in this sea of bedlam. Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to me, there was, located to the left of the desired counter, a rather elaborate construction standing about six feet high, and proud host to Woollies' current selection of fresh flower arrangements. Indeed, had I been in Usha's position, I too may have been attracted by such an outlandish object plunked haphazardly in the middle of the mayhem, and, like Usha, I too may have felt the need to divert from our current path and approach for closer investigation. Try as I might, I can offer up no defence for my ensuing complete lack of awareness, or the ceaseless enthusiasm with which I continued to propel my dog towards what I still believed to be the counter. It's just amazing what that five- degree alteration to the left can do to the end result! Quite abruptly, we drew to a standstill, and, in the millisecond it took for the alarm bells to begin clanging in my head, and as I was still about to issue forth with a flood of praise for a job well done, I became aware of several things. Firstly, some sixth sense began to assert itself into my consciousness, and it told me that, barring any significant structural changes to Woollies in the past week, the service counter did not particularly resemble a tall, narrow obstruction smelling sickeningly of flowers. Just as my consciousness began processing this little discovery, there came a quick, sharp surge of activity from my partner, a feeling which I think is all too familiar to all of us. It is the feeling of the front end of a canine diving determinedly towards an edible, or apparently edible object nearby. Call it precognition, but something told me even before I dutifully exclaimed "No, leave it, sit!" and extended my hand forward to attempt to snag the object of my dog's interest before she did, that I had, in this instance as so often before, been too late. What I wasn't quite prepared for was the decidedly wet, dripping pile of half-chewed flower petals that my triumphant dog ceremoniously deposited into my hand and onto the floor. Well, to her credit, my dog does not muck around! The emphatic bite of flowers which she had taken was one of which she could be proud, and left the remainder of the bunch looking quite pathetic and most unlike anything that could be presented, in good conscience, to anyone other than your worst enemy! So there I stood, trying to decide whether to laugh, cry or scream, and deciding that, all in good time, perhaps all three would be appropriate. As thoughtful and touching as it indeed was that Usha should think to procure flowers for me, I must confess that any resulting warm glow I may have felt was most certainly a result of the sudden cluster of shoppers gathering around me exclaiming "oh goodness, it ate the flowers!" I never cease to be amazed by the uncanny ability of seemingly ordinary human beings to state what is perfectly and absolutely obvious, and with such apparent disbelief and excitement too! So, resisting with much difficulty the urge to hurl the soggy, gradually dissolving contents of my right hand in the direction of my audience, I carefully eased myself and my gleeful thief away from the crime scene and timidly approached the counter, (yes, the beloved service counter) to confess my sin. For her part, Usha, frenzied with delight at the instant attention she was receiving, wagged her tail and pranced around at my side as though a more noble and heartfelt gesture had never before been performed. Just for good measure, she finally got around to spitting the remainder of her flowery offering onto the floor at the feet of the baffled sales assistant before me, as though to demonstrate the extent of her feminine grace. Needless to say, it is now with heightened awareness that I send my eager accomplice forward to find the counter each week, and with a feeling of immense satisfaction that I crush her doggedly repetitive attempts to return to the flower display. Nonetheless, at the end of the day, I was deeply moved by my dog's thoughtfulness and sensitivity. However, in light of this experience, I have decided never again to whine about the belligerence, apathy and ungratefulness of my partner despite all I do for her, as I figure that my dignity and reputation are worth far more to me than her attempts at expressing gratitude! Oh and incidentally, her stomach evidently exhibited an equally vehement response to the sudden influx of organic matter for, not ten minutes later, she vomited quite melodramatically right outside the meat department! Woollies should do more advertising like that don't you think? I'm considering applying for a job in the promotions department! Sure bet the staff were glad to see us go that day! Well, that's it for now, until I next feel the need to confess to some of the endless series of humiliations and humbling experiences that highlight my otherwise mundane life! Don't let Usha and I get lonely here in the "doghouse". You never know who you'll meet here! A NOSE FOR NEWS by Toni and Ed Eames Like all of you, we dread the notion that our dogs are aging. Toni's Golden Escort will be 10 in September and Ed's Golden Echo was 9 in May. About a year ago, succumbing to pressure exerted by our friends in the dog food business, we switched the boys to a senior diet. Nutritionally, they've done well, but we are facing some age- related problems that have become major concerns. Escort has been showing signs of noise, crowd and thunder anxiety. Ed's first guide Perrier and Toni's second guide Flicka also picked up these anxieties as they aged, but were willing to work even when they were stressed. Escort is different. When stressed, he is unable to work and just folds up into a ball of quivering fur. Several months ago, we were on our way to an international veterinary convention in Vancouver, British Columbia, when we met Dr. Karen Overall, a veterinarian animal behaviorist specializing in pharmacological behavioral modification. She commented on how alert and laid back the dogs were in the Seattle airport. Five days later, when she met us at the conference, Karen suggested that Escort looked stressed out and offered to help if Toni wanted to involve her in the case. As you might expect, Toni was reluctant to accept Karen's offer because of the fear that any anti-anxiety medication would interfere with his alertness and ability to work. However, Karen assured us that she had worked with guide dogs, service dogs and military dogs, and the drug interventions had not had a negative impact on their ability to work. It had simply taken the edge off the anxiety. Since Escort seemed to be becoming even more sensitive to noise, Toni felt she had no choice other than to follow Karen's recommendation and put him on Amitriptiline. Within three weeks he was showing less anxiety and seemed to be rejuvenated. He has gotten his old sharpness and decision making initiative back. However, he still succumbs to thunder and lightening storms. Fortunately, we have very few of them in Fresno, and Escort is once again a confident and self-assured working dog. Toni has had to make her compromises with this condition. Echo was recently diagnosed with a severe case of uviitis, a condition that could result in blindness if we cannot control the infection. Unfortunately, when he was initially examined by a veterinary ophthalmologist, the doctor did not view the condition as alarming and the recommended treatment had little impact. When we saw our second specialist, he went the other way and recommended Echo's immediate retirement! The third specialist, currently in charge of the case has Echo on a very expensive antibiotic ointment three times a day in both eyes. While we were lecturing at Auburn University veterinary school recently one of their ophthalmologists looked at Echo and said the infection was clearing up but the treatment had to be continued. We have our fingers crossed! During the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners conference in San Antonio on January 12, NAGDU president, Suzanne Whalen, demonstrated her dog's skills as guide. She told the audience how he was trained by two guide dog schools, The Seeing Eye, which initially trained the team, and Southeastern Guide Dogs, which trained her German Shepherd, Caddo, to guide her in a wheelchair. They are an awesome team! The keynote speaker at the conference was Dr. Marty Becker, a consultant for "Good Morning America" and the editor of two Chicken Soup books focused on animals. His new book, The Healing Power of Pets, has a chapter on assistance dogs concluding with a description of Ed's former three-legged guide, Kirby. Next year's keynote speaker is Dr. Robert Taylor of Alameda East Veterinary Hospital in Denver and star of "Animal Planet." We were delighted to have a tour of this outstanding facility when we were speaking at a national student veterinary conference at Colorado State in March. Following the IAADP conference, we flew to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to attend and speak at the conference of the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality. It's interesting that the travel industry is recognizing disabled people as a meaningful source of consumers and is now catering to this market. Representatives of all the major airlines, hotel chains, Amtrak and cruise lines were in attendance, as well as travel agents catering to the needs of disabled tourists. We were there to talk about blind travelers, particularly those partnered with guide dogs. When we arrived in Fort Lauderdale near midnight, the Airport Hilton, where the conference was being held, refused to send their van to pick us up because we were accompanied by Escort and Echo. Their representative said they would pay for a taxi, but would not provide the van. Fortunately, the first taxi we approached was willing to take us to the hotel. However, we were not about to let this incident drop and talked with the general manager the next morning, and he was quite apologetic. Going beyond mere words, he provided a free meal for us and offered the hotel van to take us to Boca Raton the next evening to visit Ed's sister-in-law. That visit was enhanced by the fact that our dogs rode in the hotel van and demonstrated their usual exemplary behavior. The resolution of this conflict saved us over $100 in taxi fares! Two days after returning home from this trip, we were in a car with our friend Debbie Prieto, familiar to national convention participants for her outstanding supervision of the relief area, going to an NFB state board meeting in Burbank. Not wanting to disturb deliberations, Debbie and Toni spent a day and a half shopping while Ed and other board members discussed weighty matters such as fund raising and increasing membership. What a tough way to spend a weekend! Just prior to our trip to Las Vegas in February to speak at the Western Veterinary Conference, Toni had to take Escort to the veterinarian to treat a spider bite. It was most likely a black widow, or some other venomous spider. He had a hole in his side resembling a scoop from a grapefruit spoon. The venom causes the skin to die and slough off. Fresno is known for black widows, but it was scary to think that a nest existed in the house. Any of our four cats could die from such a bite. Escort was given a prednisone shot and we were concerned how he would manage in a huge hotel like the MGM Grand. Any of you who have had your guides on prednisone, know it turns them into drinking and peeing machines. Fortunately, we were given a room near the elevator, and Escort quickly learned his way through the casino to the outside. Both Echo and Escort were donated, so we never had the opportunity to meet their puppy raisers. To make up for this lack, we work closely with the Fresno puppy raisers to introduce the youngsters and their families to what blindness is all about. It is important for them to know why they are asked to do certain things, like relieve their pups on leash. At least twice a year, we host the entire group, puppies and all, to our home, and this was our time to have the crew here. What fun, meeting the new families and all those furry critters! Back in the air on the 12th of March, we were winging our way to Denver. It is rare for us to get anywhere in one plane, but Denver is a quick two-hour one-plane flight from Fresno. Always expanding our network, we pick up new friends as we travel. At last year's NFB state convention, we met several employees from the Colorado Center for the Blind, a rehabilitation program run by NFB, and we were invited to tour this premier rehabilitation center when we were in the area. We took them up on the offer and spent a lovely afternoon at the agency. Buna Dahal, an employee from Nepal, prepared a sumptuous dinner at the home of Julie Deden and Tony Lewis. It was a lovely evening and the food and camaraderie were wonderful. Tony Lewis had been president of the San Francisco chapter until meeting Julie, so it was fun getting together with him again while bemoaning his loss to our state! The Colorado Center is very guide dog friendly, encouraging students to attend and use their dogs except during cane travel training sessions. We were delighted with this enlightened policy and wish other centers would follow along! The first few days in Denver treated us to delightful warm weather, then the big shift. A small snowstorm hit, and the only ones who were happy were Escort and Echo. They frolicked joyously in our host Vicki Thorp's fenced-in yard and happily pooped on small mounds of snow for the next few days. We first met Vicki at the SATH conference in Fort Lauderdale, and her dog loving quality bound us together instantly. The veterinary conference was wonderful and we had large audiences at both of our presentations. Marty Becker was promoting his new book and was the keynote speaker for the 2,000 students in the audience. Back home in Fresno, we had a major media event on March 18 when the first talking traffic signal in Fresno was unveiled. All four of our local TV channels sent camera crews and the "Fresno Bee" sent a reporter. There were lots of other exciting news events that day, so we ended up with about one minute on one channel, 30 seconds on another, 10 seconds on a third and no coverage on the fourth! However, the Bee did a very nice article on it. When you press the pedestrian button on the pole, a continuous beep is heard until the walk signal goes on, then you hear "Walk on Shaw" or "Walk on Valentine". When the flashing red comes on the voice shuts up and you are not supposed to enter the crosswalk. It's great and the Fresno NFB chapter and Ed's Fresno ADA Advisory Council were instrumental in pushing this installation. Four more crossings are supposed to have these talking signals installed in the next year. Too bad we can't justify having one put in where we need to cross to get to the nearest bus stop! Since we travel a lot, planning is a vital part of making our trips memorable. However, sometimes the best laid plans don't work out. That's what seemed to be happening on our trip to speak at Louisiana State University veterinary school. Friends we were supposed to get together with had to go out of town or had out-of-town relatives come visiting. Scheduled to leave on Saturday and having just heard about these crises in the lives of our potential hosts, we turned to Pam Dubel Allen, director of the Louisiana Center for the Blind. Pam suggested calling some Federationists in Baton Rouge, and we really lucked out. Danie and Byron Antoine invited us for lunch and we had a delightful time with this warm and welcoming couple and their two charming young children. Byron is the president of the Baton Rouge chapter and a very successful lunchroom vending operator at a local hospital. He showed his prowess as a chef by cooking a great spaghetti meal with shrimp sauce! Another chapter couple, Diane and Dave LeGendre, picked us up to take us to a crawfish boil being held as a fund raiser for their church. A Louisiana crawfish boil is a culinary event unduplicated anywhere else in the world. Crawfish are like small lobsters, except they hang out in mud rather than water. In nearby states these awesome looking critters are not considered people food and are contemptuously discarded. Although they are the central elements in the Louisiana tradition, they are usually accompanied by corn on the cob and red potatoes. All are boiled together in a huge vat of boiling water spiced with a liquid concoction sure to raise the roof of your mouth. At our first crawfish boil five years ago, Toni thought she would hate it since everything was eaten with fingers and she had to learn how to crack the shellfish open to get the minute amount of meat near the tail. However, once she got the knack of it she was shucking away with the best of them! Ed, on the other hand, who had lived in India where all food is eaten with the right hand, had no qualms about diving in. At our first boil the tables were covered with newspapers and the crawfish, potatoes, and corn were just dumped on the table. In this more gentrified event, the tables were covered with plastic table cloths and the food was served on huge paper plates. Each of us had about 50 crawfish and there was no limit to the amount of food one could eat. After Louisiana State, we flew to Alabama where we spoke at Auburn and Tuskegee veterinary schools. Alabama is the only state with two veterinary colleges, only 30 miles apart. The reason for this proximity is that after World War II a movement was started to create a veterinary school in the South that would welcome black students, not permitted to enroll at white southern schools. Tuskegee was the university selected for this effort and it still has the most diversified student body in the United States. A notable result of this trip is that all three veterinary school teaching hospitals have now inaugurated discount fee structures for guide, hearing and service dogs. Louisiana State is offering a 403people discount on all services and a cost plus 253people charge for pharmaceuticals. Auburn will charge nothing for assistance dogs and Tuskegee is planning to follow the Auburn model. Here is news from the Guide Dog Schools. Guide Dog Foundation in New York is constructing a new dormitory and future students will have private rooms. On completion of team training, full ownership of the canine partner will be offered. The Foundation will pay for veterinary expenses of up to $200 during the first year after graduation, and will help with other veterinary expenses on a case by case basis. They have hired an orientation and mobility specialist. The Foundation worked with New York State graduates to obtain passage of a law providing restitution for guide dog owners whose dogs have been attacked. Guide Dogs for the Blind with its campuses in California and Oregon, graduated 339 teams in 2000. GDB is expanding its graduate field representatives from 12 to 20 to work with agencies in regions outside California. Guiding Eyes for the Blind in New York State graduated 171 teams in 2000. They have a special needs program and offer in-home training for graduates working with successor dogs. They have initiated a new rapid response system to calls for help from graduates. A follow-up phone response will take place within half an hour. If a visit is required and within driving distance, the response will be within 72 hours. If they have to fly, a trainer will try to get there within 10 business days of request for help. Guiding Eyes is working with Puppies Behind Bars, a program for puppy raisers in prisons. They are also installing a talking signs system within their building. Leader Dogs for the Blind is going to a five person training team to give more individualized attention to students. They have decreased classes from 13 to 12 a year. Last year, approximately 300 teams were graduated. At Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, John Byfield stepped down as Director of Training and is now Placement Specialist. He is succeeded by Pete Nowicki. Guide Dogs of the Desert inaugurated a 4 to 5 day long assessment class for those not sure they want or are suitable to train with a guide dog. The Desert incorporates practical tasks during team training period, such as taking a bus to a movie and then returning to the training van by bus, and going to San Diego during the last week of training and staying in a hotel overnight. They have acquired new buses equipped with toilets on board. Eye Dog Foundation announced they now have facilities with individual rooms with private baths. The Seeing Eye now has 5 community instructors doing home training and follow up. They also had an instructor exchange program with an Australian guide dog school. Southeastern Guide dogs expanded its program into North Carolina and Atlanta. They have taken over the facilities formerly part of Canine Vision. They have a huge waiting list for blind people in wheelchairs wanting dogs. This list will undoubtedly be expanded as a result of the training received by Suzanne Whalen. Here is some other News of interest. The Iams Company is providing a packet of 10 $2 off coupons twice a year for guide dog partners; call customer relations 888-385-2682, and they will send them to you. Intercepter heartworm preventative manufactured by Novartis is available at no cost through your veterinarian. Ask your vet to request replacement product from the Novartis sales representative. Last, but certainly not least, here are some convention updates. We look forward to seeing all of you in Louisville in July. Our relief crew headed by Debbie will be back. May and June will find us busily at work recruiting volunteers, looking for veterinary coverage, setting up a nail clipping clinic and gathering goodies for the dogs and their partners in attendance. Toni and Ed Eames can be contacted at 3376 North Wishon, Fresno, CA 93704-4832; Telephone: 559-224- 0544; every-mail: PFUI (Pretty Funny Unplanned Incidents) Submitted by Suzanne Whalen. One day, when my first dog, Kara, was at the vet, I had gone to work using my cane. I suddenly realized that I was about to be late picking up my first-grade students from the cafeteria after lunch. Our principal was very strict about teachers being on time, and I panicked. Hastily, I stood up. "Come!" I commanded. I digress here to say that I'm usually not bad about giving a command without saying my dog's name first, but I was frazzled. Of course, when nobody came, I reached down to get a leash and found my cane instead. I grabbed it from under the table. As I was about to take my first step toward the door of the teachers' lounge, my brain malfunctioned again. I commanded, "Forward!" and started walking. Good girl!" I said automatically. Only then did I become aware that my co-workers had stopped talking and started laughing. "Talking to yourself again, are you, Suzanne?" one of them teased. "I'd like to see you give that cane a pat on the head." "Does it give kisses?" another one added. Pfui! Submitted by Ruthie Tipps. It all happened with my first dog, Halo, a female golden retriever. I can't remember the exact time of year, but I do know that the Toronto postal system was on strike. It was rather irksome as we weren't sure that they would ever return to work. There were those that wanted to get their revenge, but it certainly wasn't anything I had intentionally planned to do. Halo and I often took our long walks during the lunch hour as it relieved much stress and tension from sitting behind a desk all morning typing pages and pages of depositions and such. They were called Examinations for Discovery in Canada, and believe me, that particular day, I was typing a tough one. Well, we set out on our walk, but Halo kept pulling me over to the curb, something she rarely ever did during the middle of the day. After the second time, I decided to heed her warning. She left a nice neat pile at the curb and luckily I had my trusty plastic bag with me. Our trainer told us, "Never leave home without it!" Sounds like a commercial to me. After picking up her stuff, I knew I needed to deposit it, but where there was a receptacle was anyone's guess since I rarely had to visit these places. Well, after walking a couple of blocks, I found what I thought was the receptacle. As I opened it and was putting the bag in, I heard, "No!" A little startled at first, the bag dropped into the container. I couldn't hold it. I asked the man, "What's the problem!" He said, "I know the postal service is on strike, but do you have to let them know what you think of them!" 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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NAGDU Web Site Links
National Federation of the Blind The National Federation of the Blind World-Wide Web Site
NFB Net The NFB Net World-Wide Web Site
Harness Up Harness Up: The Newsletter of the National Association of Guide Dog Users, (NAGDU.)
Guide Dog Access Legislation A World-Wide compilation of guide dog access legislation.
Guide Dog Web Site Links Links to sites of interest to guide dog users.
Join the NAGDU Discussion Group NAGDU's forum for discussing guide dog-related issues.
Membership Information How to become a member of NAGDU
The NAGDU Mentoring Program
Contact the NAGDU President
NAGDU Division Officers A list of the current NAGDU Board of Directors and their contact information.
NAGDU Web Site Help Get help with searching the NAGDU Web Site and locating the information you're seeking.
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