Harness Up Fall, 2003
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
EDITOR'S NOTES by Eugenia Firth 2 PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE by Suzanne Whalen 3 Informed Choice: Some Questions by Suzanne Whalen 8 NAGDU's New Internet Presence By Peter Donahue 16 They Made It Right By Eugenia Firth 23 Booker Foundation Grants $2 Million For Genetics at The Seeing Eye 25 from The Seeing Eye Guide, Spring 2003 Press Release from Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind 27 Security with Dignity by Suzanne Whalen 28 Flea and Tick Control: How You Can Win the Struggle By Dolores Holle, VMD 31 A Nose for News By Toni and Ed Eames 35 Welcome To the Dogs by Suzanne Whalen 41 REGULATIONS ON SERVICE ANIMALS 43 U.S. Department of Transportation MINUTES, 2003 by Eugenia Firth, Secretary 59 Division Officers 61
I usually feel I have had some difficulty in gathering materials together for Harness up. However, this issue virtually wrote itself, and I had trouble deciding whether to leave material out of this issue.
If your school has something nice to tell, I invite you to send it as The Guide Dog
Foundation and The Seeing Eye have done. It's wonderful to contribute positive events
to Harness Up to offset all the trouble that's about.
Hello again, fellow NAGDU members! The fall weather is glorious in Dallas. I have often said that, if we could sell in six-packs the weather we enjoy from mid- September to mid-November and again from mid-March to mid-May, we wouldn't have any budget problems in this city. We pay for this with those many hundred-plus-degree days we endure every summer.
Speaking of summer, we naturally reminisce about our national convention. I'd like to highlight three events at the convention. The first two won't appear in the August- September Convention Roundup section of the Braille Monitor. The third does appear there.
First, NAGDU has a new Web site! Pete Donahue is doing a terrific job constructing it. This is a truly significant development for our division. Our Web site will be a marvelous vehicle for doing research on a wide variety of guide dog related issues and access laws, both in the United States and around the world. Please read Pete's article about the NAGDU Web site elsewhere in this issue.
Second, The Seeing Eye announced that it will now train dogs for graduates who use wheelchairs, on a case by case basis! This announcement was made twice: at The Seeing Eye's graduate breakfast, and also while Mike Moran was giving the school's update during the seminar "A Guide Dog in Your Life." Guide Dogs for the Blind is also beginning to train graduates in wheelchairs on a case by case basis. Of course, Southeastern Guide Dogs is continuing to provide this training, and not just for their graduates but for any qualified applicant. I hope The Seeing Eye and Guide Dogs for the Blind will eventually have enough success with graduates that they, too, will feel confident enough to take on other students in wheelchairs. Of course, Southeastern is the school which pioneered training of blind wheelchair users. I'm deeply grateful to Southeastern for training Caddo and me. I'm also profoundly humbled and grateful for the role Caddo and I have been privileged to play in bringing the freedom of increased independent mobility to blind wheelchair users. I'm very proud of The Seeing Eye and Guide Dogs for the Blind for their very responsible and professional approach. They studied all factors and they are beginning by serving people whom they know. I was honored to conduct a community demonstration for the training divisions in both schools. I hope to be invited to do the same at more guide dog schools.
Please put yourselves in the place of blind wheelchair users. According to the estimates of one study conducted by the National Institutes of Health for Smith Kettlewell, there are approximately 90,000 legally blind people in the US who use wheelchairs for part or all of the time. Just to play with numbers, let's say that one-half of one percent of those people have the ability and desire to use a guide dog. That would be 250 people! Southeastern is currently serving about 2 students per year who use wheelchairs. I don't know what their current goals are since they have a new Executive Director, but when Mike Sergeant was still there, they talked about working toward the goal of eventually training a maximum of 5 wheelchair users per year. Hypothetically, dividing 250 potential applicants by 5 per year, that would result in a 50-year wait for some people. Of course, the numbers of blind wheelchair users applying for guide dogs could be more or less than 250. But this hypothetical example doesn't even take into account the needs of existing guide dog teams using wheelchairs! Most of us will eventually need to be trained with successor dogs.
Most blind people have to wait a few months at most for successor dogs. This is especially true for people who have no additional disabilities. If you can't imagine having to wait several years for your next dog, and you want to help make quality training available for blind people in wheelchairs, please know that Caddo and I will answer anybody's questions to the best of our ability, and we will conduct demonstrations wherever we're invited. Please encourage your school to ask us to come. Even though your school may not be able to add training for graduates using wheelchairs to its program right now, the staff can still benefit from learning how it works.
The third convention highlight is the resolution on informed choice. I encourage everyone to read carefully the resolution itself, the background information, and other pertinent material in The Braille Monitor. I also encourage everyone to read carefully the article "Informed Choice: Some Questions," which appears elsewhere in this issue. As you can imagine, I have received many calls, letters, and many questions about this resolution. Our own NAGDU treasurer wrote the resolution along with Jim Gashel. Several members asked whether she had at any time sought input from the NAGDU board and, if not, why not. I can answer the first part of the question (no, she did not) but not the second part (why not). I realize that any Federationist can submit any resolution and isn't obligated to get feedback from anybody. I also realize that, though the resolution never actually said it, one of its purposes is to defend Alan Harris, whose agency is under attack in Iowa. As President Maurer said in a letter to me, "We gave our definition of informed choice a little more comprehension than we had previously given to it. The informed choice resolution was a clarification of existing policy, not a new or radical step." But Priscilla knows that NAGDU has had a long-standing interest in our centers' policies toward guide dogs. I believe it would have been a courtesy, if nothing else, to notify the NAGDU board and membership about plans for the resolution and the reasons for it.
In the article "Informed Choice: Some Questions," I have included letters between Ed and Toni Eames and President Maurer. Some of you have seen Ed and Toni's open letter on the NAGDU list. Ed and Toni have decided to leave the Federation because of their very strong feelings against this resolution. I am very pleased that they contributed their "Nose for News" column to this issue, and I hope they will continue to do so. I know we will all miss them as colleagues. Aside from that, however, the most dramatic effect of their departure is that we will no longer have their outstanding services in creating and staffing our convention relief areas. It is true that I have helped recruit volunteers in some of the cities where we have met, and Gigi and I have done most of the matching of sitters with dogs during the banquet. But the Eameses have unquestionably done the lion's share of the work. Every year, they have spent hundreds of hours contacting kennel clubs, breed clubs, and other potential sources for volunteers. They have located suppliers for the wood chips and other materials needed. The National Center builds the boxes each year, but the Eameses have been responsible for ordering all the supplies. The paid staff was hired and trained by the Eameses, and because the Eameses are no longer associated with the Federation, those staff people won't be back either. All the work associated with the relief areas, the NAGDU Information Table, and the dog sitting service now falls to Dana, Gigi, and me. For future conventions, the Eameses have generously agreed to give us the names of the contacts they have established in cities like Louisville, Atlanta, and Dallas where we have previously met. But whenever we meet in a city for the first time, we'll be charting new territory. We'll appreciate any help we can get with making phone and e-mail contacts to find volunteers before convention. Following Ed and Toni's advice, we'll begin doing it in March or April. If you do it much earlier than that, people will forget, or they won't know what they'll be doing the first week in July. We'd also appreciate any time you can give to working the NAGDU table during convention.
I am happy to report the demise of Praise, a guide dog "school" in New York State. Here is the text of a press release which speaks for itself in explaining what happened to Praise. The Guide Dog Foundation produced this in Braille at my request, but it was actually issued by the Department of Law in New York City and the Department of Law in Albany. Here it is: For Immediate Release, August 1, 2003 Department of Law 120 Broadway New York, NY 10271 Department of Law The State Capitol Albany, NY 12224 For More Information: (212) 416-8060 LONG ISLAND COUPLE INDICTED FOR CHARITIES SCAM and WELFARE FRAUD Charged With Looting Charities They Created To Help BLIND CHILDREN
New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and New York State Welfare Inspector General Paul Balukas today announced the arrests of two people on a 46-3.t indictment charging that they stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from local, state, and federal welfare agencies.
Defendants Barbara Abernethy, 42, and Steven Southard, 55, of 104 Round Swamp Road in Old Bethpage, set up three not-for-profit corporations to operate schools for blind children. Between 1997 and 2002, they collected over $200,000 in charitable donations from hundreds of contributors, including the Pall Corporation, the Charles B. Wang Foundation, Barry Manilow, the Ron and Sheryl Howard Foundation, the Hicksville Fire Department, and from numerous individuals who reside in the area.
However, according to the indictment, the schools did not graduate a single seeing-eye dog. Instead, the defendants opened bank accounts in the names of the not-for-profits and used the money as if it were their own, spending more than half of what they collected on personal expenses.
The pair is also charged with defrauding the Nassau County Department of Social Services, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, and the Social Security Administration. It is alleged that the couple stole more than $100,000 in welfare, disability and social service payments from these government agencies by concealing their income from the charitable foundations.
"These defendants used these charities for their own enrichment," Spitzer said. "We intend to hold them accountable for their actions. My office will continue to work with other state agencies to root out fraud and abuse."
Inspector Balukas added, "My office has repeatedly called upon government agencies that contract with non-profit organizations in New York to increase the oversight, reporting requirements and accountability of these organizations. The defendants created and operated their non-profit organizations with the real purpose of stealing thousands of dollars intended to benefit blind children."
Among the charges contained in the indictment are one count of Scheme To Defraud in the First Degree, four counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, seven counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, Repeated Failure to File Income Taxes, and Welfare Fraud in the First Degree.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Spitzer commended the following state agencies for their assistance in the investigation: the NYS Workers' Compensation Board, Office of the Fraud Inspector General; the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance; the Inspector General of the Social Security Administration and the NYS Office of Children and Family Services.
The case is being prosecuted by Pat Russo, General Counsel to the Office of the Welfare Inspector General, who has been designated a Special Assistant Attorney General, under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General Vincent O'Reilly, Deputy Bureau Chief of the AG'S Criminal Prosecutions Bureau. Also providing assistance with the investigation were Assistant Attorney General Charles Smith of the Charities Bureau and Supervising Investigator John Serrapica. From the Welfare Inspector General's office, Chief Investigator Robert L. Waters and Investigators Gabriel Camacho and Ismael Zayas also assisted in the investigation.
There you have the press release. Ironically, you will notice that the defendants are not being prosecuted for placing blind people in potential danger. If they had not been accused of stealing money, nobody would have thought to investigate what they were doing.
NAGDU didn't have anything to do with Praise's demise. We can't take even partial credit for it, as we can with Canine Vision and Paws Abilities. I wish that were the end of the battle with substandard programs, but it's not. We helped close down Canine Vision, and Sally Sue Bradley started Georgia Guides. It looks like Praise is gone, but to our knowledge, Mike Dalton, clueless as ever, is still "training" guide dogs in Colorado. Please read the interview with Irene McAlister elsewhere in this issue. The problem of getting rid of substandard programs is very similar to something my mother used to say about flies and mosquitoes: "For every one you kill, five come to the funeral."
I want to be clear about this, especially for new members who may misunderstand and think NAGDU is against all small schools or all new schools. That is not the case. We have no problem with schools, whatever their size and age, as long as they can provide adequate follow-up. We have no problem with schools, no matter their size or age, as long as they have qualified instructors and refrain from training students until they do. Guide Dogs of Texas is a prime example. This school waited until it had the resources to bring in an experienced instructor from the United Kingdom. He has brought in others.
Of course, the advocacy never stops, because acts of discrimination continue against people using guide dogs. One particularly memorable case involved a couple whose apartment manager kept grilling them as they were moving in, emphasizing the "No Pets" rule and asking if they were sure that neither one of them had any intention of getting a guide or service dog and threatening to evict them if they did. The man has decided he wants to apply for a guide dog. They called me, wanting both reassurance and chapter and verse information about the specific laws which applied in their state. I did pretty well with the reassurance part. However, when people's legal questions get too technical for my non-lawyer brain, I turn to Karla Westjohn. As most "Harness Up" readers know, Karla is one of our members, and she is an experienced attorney. She helped out in resolving this case. She has assisted in a variety of ways with other cases throughout this year and in past years. Karla has donated much time and effort and expertise to this division and to helping the officers deal with guide dog users who find themselves in a variety of situations. I have thanked her privately for this, but never done so publicly in "Harness Up." I am doing so now.
Does your state have a NAGDU affiliate? What is it doing? What advocacy work has it done? What does it do to educate the public about blind people in general and the relationship between a handler and his or her guide dog in particular? "Harness Up" is one place you can brag and share your great ideas with the rest of us, and we would love it! The editor of your NFB state affiliate's newsletter might love it, too. I know, most of our fellow Federationists use the long white cane as their method of mobility, but editors are always looking for well-written articles. By way of reminder, Dr. Maurer is always looking for well-written Kernel Book stories. Besides there are always opportunities to educate our brothers and sisters within the Federation family. The Dallas Progressive Chapter is great! None of us who work with guide dogs has ever gotten any flak about it. It makes me sad when I get a call from someone who is between dogs, and one or more people in the person's local chapter have made comments such as, "It's good to see you using a cane; I knew you could do it!" or, "I hope you're not planning to get another dog." I have occasionally spoken to young people who worry that if they get a guide dog, it could hurt their chances for a scholarship or hinder their chances to rise politically within the organization. Thankfully, I don't get these kinds of calls often, but it shouldn't happen at all in this movement. We shouldn't have to feel the need to apologize about our mobility choice to other blind people or to anyone else, for that matter, whether we use a dog or a cane. We shouldn't allow another person to dictate to us when to use a dog or cane, when to retire a dog, or whether to get another dog. I have suggested to people that the next time somebody says, "I hope you don't get another dog," they hold their heads high, smile, and say something like, "Oh, you bet I'm getting another dog, and I can't wait! Have a nice day!"
Please wish everyone in your family a safe, blessed, and happy holiday season
from me. I'll see you again in the spring.
by Suzanne Whalen
At our convention last summer in Louisville, a resolution was passed reaffirming
the Federation's support for the concept of informed choice. The Rehabilitation Act, as
amended, gives consumers the right to choose the providers of their rehabilitation
services. The consumer makes this choice based on as much factual information as he or
she can get about each program being considered.
Stated very simply, the resolution defines our organization's view as to the correct
interpretation of "informed choice." According to our position, it is desirable and even
essential that clients choose where they want to go to receive rehabilitation. However,
our organization believes that Congress never intended for clients to be able to pick and
choose what they will learn once they enter a rehabilitation program. Guide dogs are
specifically mentioned in the resolution. This means that after the program requirements
have been explained and the student nonetheless chooses to enter, he or she cannot
change the policy if the center does not allow for the use of guide dogs during the class
Following passage of this resolution, there has been, to put it mildly, considerable
discussion. Computer lists have been buzzing. I have stopped counting the phone calls
and letters I have received. Some communications have been from cane users who
couldn't understand why so many dog users are upset over the resolution. Most calls and
letters have been from guide dog users, and they have posed some serious questions
which deserve serious answers.
Perhaps the most important of these questions is, "What are we going to do?"
Well, let's start by considering who the "we" in this case is. If we interpret the "we" to
mean the National Association of Guide Dog Users, the short answer to that question is:
nothing. As we all know, resolutions are policy statements of the National Federation of
the Blind. The convention is the supreme authority of the Federation. Local chapters,
state affiliates, and national divisions do not make national policy, and they cannot go
against national policy. Of course, NAGDU, as a division of the Federation, will support
and uphold Federation policy.
But let's look at the "we" in another sense. The Federation is a democracy, and
each of us is a citizen within that democracy. Some might ask: The resolution has
passed. What's the point of discussing it now? Those who opposed it had their chance to
express their views during the debate at convention. The vote didn't go their way, and
now they should just quit complaining and move on.
The point is well taken. However, in a democracy, citizens abide by the laws, but
if they don't like something, through proper means they talk about it and work for change
if they feel that's needed. President Maurer has said that some members are taking
offense where no offense was intended. Through continued discussion and dialogue,
perhaps we who don't agree with the resolution will gain a different perspective and will
come to understand that no offense was meant. On the other hand, by listening to what
we have to say, those who wrote the resolution, and those who support it, may see that
some of our questions and ideas have value. Perhaps they will realize that there were
considerations they hadn't thought of. President Maurer has told me he feels the
discussion about guide dogs is worth having, and he and I have been engaged in dialogue
that is mutually candid and courteous. I am working on an article for The Braille
Monitor at the same time that I am writing this. I am motivated to write the Monitor
article because of two factors. The first is the resolution and the concerns about it (my
personal questions and concerns as well as those presented to me by many, many other
people). The second factor is Jim Omvig's article in the October Monitor. As I
understand it, there are two key points to his article. One point is that people who
disagree with the informed choice resolution are not really qualified to speak against it if
they have never experienced rehabilitation at a center following the Federation model.
The other point is that, if you travel with a cane, you know you have accomplished it
independently and have done it all yourself, whereas, according to Mr. Omvig, if you
travel with a guide dog, you would be inclined to ask yourself, "Did I do this or did the
dog do it?" Mr. Omvig, to my knowledge, has never used a guide dog. Therefore, one
might argue that he is not in a position to know what goes through the mind of the
My first response to this article was indignation and maybe even anger. I now
view it as one more opportunity to inform our colleagues in the movement about a topic
on which many of them lack accurate information. One thing I feel I must emphasize is
that those who voted against the resolution are not attacking the movement. The
movement will only be better and stronger when the lines of communication are kept
open. Asking questions about a resolution, or even disagreeing with it, doesn't
automatically make someone a disloyal Federationist.
Some cane users have asked serious questions that deserve answers. They've
asked me whether NAGDU is saying cane travel is not important. (No, we've never said
that, and we're not saying it now.) They've asked me whether our centers would have to
hire guide dog instructors to train the dogs. No, of course not! The staffs at our centers
are not experienced or knowledgeable enough to judge the work of a guide dog team.
Furthermore, our centers are not in the business of breeding and training dogs and
matching them with students, just as the guide dog schools aren't set up to do
rehabilitation. All we've ever advocated is that when there's a problem, they encourage
the graduate to call the guide dog school.) One thing is for sure, though. Especially
when a student is working with a young dog, problems could very well result for that
team if the student is either forced to leave the dog locked up somewhere or forced to
heel the dog all day while using a cane. An instructor from the school that trained the
team (not from one of our centers) may very well be needed to repair that damage. When
students attend programs that allow them the freedom to use their dogs for a substantial
part of the day, problems are far less likely to occur with the team.
This seems a good time to clear up a major misconception held by several of the
resolution's supporters who have contacted me. The argument goes something like this:
When you go to a school like The Seeing Eye, they don't let you use canes at all (which is
not entirely true, of course). Our centers run a cane mobility program, these folks say, so
why would anyone want to use a dog while in training there?
Here are the problems, as I see them, with that line of reasoning. When you go to
guide dog school, you're there for about a month for a first dog. You are focusing on
only one skill: traveling with a guide dog. On the other hand, when you come to one of
our centers, you typically spend several months there. You are not there just to learn
cane travel. As important as it is, cane travel is only one of many skills our centers teach.
The others include Braille, computer training, cooking, wood shop, rock climbing,
housekeeping, doing laundry, etc. To call our centers merely a "cane mobility program"
is misleading and it severely undervalues what the centers actually do.
Guide dog users have asked some thought-provoking questions as well. I have
paraphrased examples of some of the questions which occurred most often:
(1) I went to Rehab Center X in the sixties. It was accredited by NAC. They forced me
to kennel my dog. Why are we doing something that NAC agencies once did?
(2) What if a sheltered workshop or a rehab center (not one of ours) denies somebody
the right to use the guide dog during the day? Will the Federation defend and support
(3) How many of our centers, and how many other centers run on the Federation model,
employ current guide dog users as teachers? Are these employees allowed to use their
guide dogs, if they wish, as they travel throughout the center and into the community
during their work day? What can be done to increase the number of people employed at
our centers who currently use guide dogs on a regular basis?
(4) What happens if I want to go to a specific rehab center, and the counselor tells me
there's no money to send me? True, I can appeal, but that can take forever, and my
training is put on hold. (In fact, Dana Ard, during her time at the microphone, called
informed choice an "unfunded mandate." She should know. She works closely with
blind students herself. It sounds good in theory, but with the economy as it is today, how
well does it always work in practice?)
I believe that Dr. Maurer and I will dialogue about these issues and many others.
I know other NAGDU officers and members will continue to engage in constructive
discussions with Federation colleagues. Whatever happens, I'm sure we'll still be talking
about all this in the Spring "Harness Up" and at this summer's convention.
At the conclusion of this article, there is a series of correspondence between Ed
and Toni Eames and President Maurer. The Eameses wrote an open letter explaining
their reasons for leaving the Federation. President Maurer replied to this letter, and they
replied to him.
3376 North Wishon, Fresno, CA 93704-4832
Phone: (559) 224-0544 Fax: (559) 224-5851
July 14, 2003
Open Letter to NFB
From: Ed and Toni Eames
Since moving to California more than 15 years ago, we have been actively involved in
the Federation at the local, state and national level.
In Fresno, we have each served as president of the local chapter and currently Toni is
vice president and Ed is treasurer. Our activities include fund raising, blindness
awareness education and advocacy.
For the last several years, Ed served on the NFB California state board and we have co-
chaired the Guide Dog Committee. Ed has chaired the state scholarship committee for
the last four years and three years ago we did a joint presentation at the state convention.
At the national level, both of us have been field representatives and log approximately 20
hours a month on national activities. This includes advocating for blind prisoners and
fostering the NFB political agenda. Both of us attended a leadership seminar validating
both our value to the organization and commitment to its growth. Three of our articles
have been published in kernel books and two were the title articles. Since 1996 we have
taken on responsibility for setting up and maintaining the guide dog relief areas at
national conventions. That commitment resulted from a challenge issued by Dr. Jernigan
at the 1995 California state convention, when he said that if we thought we could do a
better job than the hotels were doing, prove it! We did beginning in Anaheim and
received kudos from him at the banquet for our efforts.
We are sorry to say that these activities will now end. As a result of the passage of
Resolution 2003-101, which places those of us choosing partnership with guide dogs in
the status of second class citizens, or more properly, second class Federationists, we are
leaving the organization. This is done with deep regrets, since NFB has been a major part
of our lives for the last 15 years.
Although we have heard it argued that the resolution only refers to informed choice, the
fact that guide dogs are mentioned as one of two practices and policies namely the use of
sleep shades and guide dogs, leaves little room for misunderstanding of the intent of this
Informed choice, as defined by 2003-101 means that a consumer has very little in the way
of choice. If the training center has a policy against guide dogs on the premises or no
guide dog use while the student is in the program, the choice is either to break the
partnership or so constrain it that the team's efficacy is undermined. To us, saying to an
applicant for rehabilitation services, you have the choice of leaving your preferred
mobility tool behind or go elsewhere is the equivalent of a restaurant or hotel manager
saying we have a no dogs policy, but there are lots of other nice restaurants or hotels you
can go to!
The concept of consumer empowerment, another basic tenet of the Rehabilitation Act, is
negated by 2003-101. From Peggy Elliott's exhortation to pass the resolution, it appears
that only organizations, not individuals, have the right to challenge agency practices and
policies. This runs counter to all we believe in and undermines the notions of informed
choice and consumer empowerment.
When Toni did an internship at the Queens, New York Lighthouse in 1968, she was
required to kennel her guide dog in the basement during the work day. This extended
separation had a negative impact on both Toni and her guide dog Charm. As an
individual, Toni tried to get the policy changed, but was basically told, abide by our rules
or go elsewhere. The Lighthouse probably interpreted this as informed choice in the
decades before Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the ADA of 1990.
Subsequently, the policy was changed and guide dogs were welcomed in this institutional
More recently, we have been advocates for a blind prison inmate named Willie Lee
Johnson (see articles in Braille Monitor). During the decade Willie was incarcerated in
California prisons, he filed many complaints against the practices and policies of the
California Department of Corrections (CDC). As a result of his individual efforts, CDC
changed its policies concerning access to libraries for blind prisoners, training for jobs in
the prison system, inmate use of white canes, access to Braille and cassette materials, etc.
Despite living in one of the most repressive institutional settings in our country, Willie
proved that an individual can make a difference and get things changed. Unfortunately,
2003-101 states that individuals cannot change the environment in which they receive
rehabilitation services. If this position is followed, those receiving rehabilitation services
would have fewer rights than convicted felons!
Federation philosophy has been expressed in a number of phrases exemplifying its basic
tenets. Among these are: "We're changing what it means to be blind" and "With proper
training, blindness can be reduced to a mere nuisance". The Federation's battle cry for
security, equality and opportunity resonates as the ideological basis of the organization.
2003-101 is a fundamental violation of these basic themes.
In the resolution, comparison is made between rehabilitation agencies and colleges. As a
retired professor of anthropology, Ed takes great exception to the misreading of the
history of higher education in the last century. The notion that college students have no
influence or power over course offerings and personnel issues disregards the student
movement of the 1960s and its aftermath. As a result of the struggle for student power,
Ed sat on curriculum and tenure and promotions committees with students, who had
considerable input in the decision making process.
The goal of a college education is to provide a broad range of knowledge to its graduates.
Thus, within the language requirement, students have options. They can take French,
German, Spanish or even sign language. The goal of a rehabilitation center is to provide
a wide range of blindness skills for its graduates. Thus, within the orientation and
mobility requirement, students should also have options. Although learning to use a cane
is an important skill, it is not synonymous with independence. We need to assure newly
blinded individuals that they can leave their homes and be mobile, whether they choose
to do so with a cane or a guide dog.
In thinking about and discussing the unique features of NFB training centers such as
those in Louisiana, Minnesota and Colorado, we concluded it was the inculcation of
positive attitudes, rather than the mastery of particular skills that was distinctive. Many
other centers have excellent training in Braille, computers, cane mobility and daily living
skills, but NFB centers foster feelings of empowerment, independence and enhanced self
esteem. To deny a segment of the blind community, namely those partnered with guide
dogs, the opportunity to develop these positive attitudes runs counter to everything we
believe the largest consumer advocacy organization of the blind in the United States
should stand for.
Several points need to be made about informed choice and rehabilitation training centers.
1. If the state does not have the money to send an applicant for services to the center
desired, then there is not much choice.
2. If a center that welcomes guide dogs is geographically distant from home and family,
the applicant is forced to choose between the guide dog and the family.
3. As the NFB model takes hold across the country under the RSA leadership of
Commissioner Wilson, choices will become even more limited. Since the NFB
rehabilitation training center model is being promoted as the best, and restrictive guide
dog policies are also promoted, informed choice will diminish.
Once again, it is with deep regret that we leave the Federation, an organization we have
participated in and supported for 15 years. However, we cannot take the pledge to
support all Federation policies when we believe Resolution 2003-101 suggests guide
dogs are an inferior mobility mode when compared with canes, and, therefore, those
selecting guide dogs, become part of a second class segment of the blind community.
Subject: Marc Maurer response to our open letter
The following response to our open letter was received by fax
from Marc Maurer.
July 17, 2003
Dear Ed and Toni,
I have received your resignation letter from the Federation, and I accept the resignation
you offer. I regret that you have misunderstood the informed choice resolution and that
your letter misstates what the resolution says.
You say that this resolution declares those who use guide dogs to be second class citizens
or second class Federationists. The resolution does not say this; furthermore the
resolution does not suggest this; consequently your characterization of it is incorrect.
It seems reasonable to me that a training program may decide to teach mobility with a
dog but not with a cane. It seems reasonable to me that a training program may demand
of its students that they use the training method then being taught during the entire time
the students are in training. Such a requirement is similar to the immersion programs for
teaching languages. Immersion techniques for teaching certain skills have long been
regarded as valuable in the teaching process. Among other things, this is one principle
embodied in the informed choice resolution.
You may believe that the guide dog schools should be required to teach mobility with a
cane, but I suspect this would alter the program they have to such a degree that they
would be fundamentally changed. I suppose informed choice might be twisted to argue
that the school must make fundamental changes to its travel-training program, but this
might cause hardship to the guide dog schools.
Such discussion, I gather from your letter, is of no moment. At your request, I will
remove your names from all committees and withdraw all other appointments you have
received in the Federation. I appreciate the positive contributions you have made, and I
wish you well.
Marc Maurer, President NATIONAL FEDERATION OF The BLIND
3376 North Wishon
Fresno, CA 93704-4832
Phone: (559) 224-0544 Fax: (559) 224-5851
July 27, 2003
Dr. Marc Maurer, President
National Federation of the Blind
We are in receipt of your letter of July 17, 2003. Thank you for taking time away
from your busy schedule to respond to our open letter.
There remains a fundamental difference between our views of informed choice
and the purpose of rehabilitation programs and agencies.
You state, "You may believe that the guide dog schools should be required to
teach mobility with a cane, but I suspect this would alter the program they have to such a
degree that they would be fundamentally changed. I suppose informed choice might be
twisted to argue that the school must make fundamental changes to its travel-training
program, but this might cause hardship to the guide dog schools."
In no way do we believe that guide dog schools should be required to provide
mobility training with a cane. That is not their purpose or their historic mission.
However, a number of them have added orientation and mobility specialists to their staffs
or encouraged guide dog trainers and instructors to acquire such additional training. In
fact, Leader Dogs, Escort and Echo's alma mater, provides cane mobility training in an
intensive week- long program designed for applicants whose mobility skills are deficient.
Several graduates of this program have gone on to partnership with guide dogs, and in
one case the applicant felt his cane skills had become so improved that he no longer
wanted to consider working with a guide dog!
Many guide dog schools encourage newly arrived students to orient to the
building and grounds by using their canes prior to being matched with their dogs.
If the exclusive purpose of rehabilitation centers were to teach cane travel, and if
they were known as white cane centers, we would have to agree with an exclusionary
guide dog policy. If a student is a competent traveler with a guide dog, rehabilitation
emphasis should be placed on honing other blindness-related skills, including the use of
the white cane. Like all blindness- related skills, including Braille, a student's
willingness to put in time and effort to master the skill becomes the basis of competence.
Another major difference between guide dog schools and rehabilitation agencies
is the source of their funding. Federal and state money support rehabilitation agencies,
while guide dog schools rely on donations from the public. Therefore, the issue of
accountability has to be viewed in very different contexts.
Ed and Toni
When Suzanne Whalen became NAGDU's President in 1998 I talked to her as to how we
could have a presence on the Internet, and the World-Wide Web. The first of these
endeavors, the establishment of NAGDU's discussion list hosted by NFB Net went on-
line in the fall of that same year. Since then it has grown in to one of the most active
discussion forums for guide dog users. Now that we had a discussion group on the
Internet the next logical step would be to create a home for our division on the World-
Wide Web. That dream was realized on July 1st, 2003, when the NAGDU World-Wide
Web Site went live spreading the news about NAGDU's activities and further acquainting
Web Surfers with the work of both NAGDU, and the NFB. The site has also opened up
new ways for guide dog users and other interested persons to receive information never
available to the masses in guide dogdum in years past. The story of how this all came to
be is chronicled in this article.
In the past there was a resistance to the idea of NAGDU's entry in to the Internet
and the Web. Some individuals believed that such an endeavor was a waste of time, and
division resources. As you read this article you the reader can decide as to whether these
people were right or wrong. Discussions of creating a Web home for NAGDU took place
off and on between the years of 1998 and 2003. We discussed the idea at several
NAGDU Business Meetings. I shared with the division membership how a web site
could benefit our division as well as guide dog users and their friends by offering
information to them never available before. Finally in 2001 the National Association of
Guide Dog Users voted to establish a World-Wide Web Site. However several more
complications further forced the delay of the construction and launch of this new and
dynamic resource. The first of these was the matter of who would construct the Web Site
and maintain it. Mean while events in my personal life during this time further delayed
the project even more. President Whalen sought to find someone to serve as Webmaster,
but no one volunteered to take on the task. Once again President Whalen discussed this
project with me last fall. I told her that I would be more than glad to construct the
NAGDU Web Site as I had had prior experience building and maintaining the
International Electronic Braille Library, (IEBL.) This was a project of the International
Braille Research Center, (IBRC.) Hence I knew a thing or two about constructing web
sites. Studying this subject in college has allowed me to further hone my web page
Finally in May of this year I received the green light to begin constructing our
web home. We would launch the site on July 1 of this year. David Andrews offered to
host our web site on the NFB Net Server. This has allowed us to save on hosting fees,
and we have a great amount of flexibility where server resources, disk space, and other
web site functions and utilities are concerned. When deciding on what to call the site one
must register the name with a domain registration service. Your domain is where you can
be found on the web. Your complete web address is called a Uniform Resource Locator,
(URL.) The most common domains are .com, .org, .net, .gov, .edu, and others. The
nature of your organization determines what domain name you should have. Since
NAGDU is a non-profit organization it rightly has an .org domain name. NAGDU's
complete URL is: http://www.nfb-nagdu.org
At about the same time I received the go-ahead to build our web site the
Webmasters of the NFB established a discussion group on NFB Net and we began
discussing various matters such as identifying our affiliated states, chapters, and divisions
as a part of the National Federation of the Blind. Our URL does that. The URL: http://www.nfb-nagdu.org Tells site visitors that the organization, The National
Association of Guide Dog Users, (NAGDU), is an affiliated division of the National
Federation of the Blind, (NFB.) We are working to get this naming convention adopted
by all NFB State Affiliates, local chapters, and affiliated divisions. NAGDU has taken a
leadership roll in helping this to happen.
Once we registered NAGDU's Domain we needed to begin building the web site.
Normally when one obtains hosting for a web site one uses a service, which provides this,
and other Internet services. Most of the major Internet Service Providers, (ISP'S) host
web sites as a matter of course. But what happens when the host you are using is not a
full-fledged Internet Service Provider, (ISP.) One must have a way of making a link
between the domain and the host where that domain will reside. Enter Domain Name
Server, (DNS) Hosting. Since we are using a host, which is not an ISP, it was necessary
for us to obtain DNS Hosting in order to link our URL with the NFB Net Server. We
accomplished both things with the help of a good friend of David Andrews who handles
many administration functions for NFB Net from his office in Canada. Just getting this
thing up and running caused it to become a multi-national effort. When you're in this
business there's no telling where it will take you.
Now that we had a working host and a secure Internet connection the next thing
was to begin building the web site itself. To do this we assembled a committee of folks
to construct web pages, and to find content for the site. Those who attend the NFB's
National Conventions know that NAGDU has what it calls a Canine Concerns Committee
to over-see the care and use of relief areas set up for guide dog users at our national
convention sites. This is one of the many activities carried out by this committee. I
suggested to President Whalen that the committee charged with building NAGDU's Web
Site be called the Internet Concerns Committee. This name stuck and we have a
committee of about 12 persons who have assisted in one way or other with our web site.
Most members are from here in the United States. However we have one member in
Canada, and two members in Australia. Though not a guide dog user herself, Maria
Chapman of Glen Innes New South Wales Australia has been extremely helpful in
finding links to various Australian, and other countries dog-related web sites. These will
be included in our links area expected to be on-line later this year. Likewise Jennifer
McEchan of Canada has provided many useful links to me for inclusion in that area of
our web site. This one area we wanted to get up and running once the site went on-line.
Besides the Dog-Related Links Area and pages containing general information
about NAGDU the Internet Concerns Committee identified two other areas to develop for
our web site. Both of these are currently active and will be undergoing a facelift in the
months ahead. The Harness Up Area contains issues of our biennial newsletter going
back to the fall of 1998. Most of them are on-line in both text, and electronic Grade II
Braille formats. They can be read on-line, or you can download them for off-line reading
electronically, or hard-copy versions can be produced. By the time you receive this issue
of Harness Up We will have the first of the audio versions of this newsletter on-line for
you to listen to, or to download. This way you can listen to it on-line, or if you want your
own copy on audio CD you'll be able to download the .mp3 file and burn it to an audio
CD. Alternatively you'll be able to load it in to your favorite .mp3 player and listen to it
on the go. Others in the blindness community have audio programs one can use in these
ways. NAGDU can once again lead the pack in including audio content on it's web site
to be used in various ways by listeners. If any of you have older issues of Harness Up
and can send them to me for inclusion on the web site that will be very much appreciated.
Another holy grail of mine is to somehow recover the fall 1999, and Spring 2000 Issues,
which were lost due to a computer crash. If any of you have either of these issues in text,
or on tape please send them to me so we can begin the recovery process.
The third area of our site is the guide dog-related legislation area. And it's not just
any old guide dog legislation area. Most guide dog schools provide their graduates with
booklets pertaining to guide dog laws in the U.S or Canada. For many years I thought of
how neat it would be to have a place where one could research guide dog access
legislation of other countries. For many years the United States and Canada were the
only two countries that had laws giving a blind person the right to enter public
establishments accompanied by their guide dog. Times have changed, and today a
handful of nations now have similar legislation. At present one will find guide dog-
related laws for the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom on our
web site. New Zealand will be joining them in the next few weeks. Bermuda, and Puerto
Rico will follow soon after. In all cases each legislative section includes laws pertaining
to the importation of guide dogs in to these countries as well as Federal, and
State/provincial legislation concerning the rights of access for guide dogs and their blind
handlers. We'll be adding substantially to the United Kingdom's area as we have recently
received the UK's Disability Discrimination Act that contains provisions for rights of
access for guide dog users. This is legislation similar to our Americans With Disabilities
Act, (ADA. Like the UK Australia has a similar law also called the Disability
Discrimination Act, (DDA.) No such legislation exists in Canada, but New Zealand has
two pieces of national legislation containing provisions for access to public facilities by
guide dogs and their blind handlers. These are provisions of the Human Rights Act, and
a piece of legislation called the Dog Control Act. All of these will be on-line by the time
you receive this article.
Since more of us are traveling internationally with our guide dogs we felt it
important to include legislation, which addresses the importation of dogs in to various
countries some of which have stringent importation requirements, and post arrival
quarantine periods. Part of taking a successful vacation abroad is knowing all you need
to know before you go, or however the U.S. Customs Service used to say it. Now when
you're planning a trip across the country or to another country you can read or download
the importation regulations and any state, provincial, or federal rights of access
legislation for the country you plan to visit from one place. Each country has an agency
that oversees and administers the importation programs for those countries. In Canada
it's the Canadian Food and Inspection Service, (CFIS), here in the United States that
responsibility is handled by the United States Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, (CDC.) Hawaii's quarantine program is operated by the Hawaii Department
of Agriculture. Likewise the agency charged with operating quarantine and inspection
programs in Australia is called the Australia Quarantine and Inspection Service, (AQIS.)
By the way it's pronounced with a long a sound, and contrary to what the Jaws for
Windows Screen Reader would tell you it's not pronounced a kiss. The agency in New
Zealand charged with this responsibility is the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry,
(MAF.) The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, (DEFRA) oversees the
quarantine programs for the United Kingdom; namely Great Britain. We have included
all of the import regulations for guide dogs entering these countries as they now have
provisions to allow guide dogs to enter without having to undergo quarantine. You must
obtain the necessary paper work from these agencies, and submit the required
documentation to them in order to obtain a permit to import your guide dog in to these
countries. You will also note that the program by which a guide dog can bypass
quarantine is known by different names. In Australia it's called Quarantine Surveillance.
In Hawaii it's called a Dispensation, and New Zealand takes the cake by calling it a
Biosecurity Clearance. Guide dogs can enter the UK without quarantine under the newly
established Great Britain Pet Travel Scheme. It's my information that Norway and
Sweden have had bypass programs for guide dogs entering those countries long before it
became an excepted practice. If anyone has the specific regulations, or can tell me where
I can find them we'll include them in our legislative area in the year ahead. I believe that
all of this is to say that we have a very powerful tool with our web site as we can
assemble information in ways we never could in the past, and keep it current, and up-to-
date so visitors have the most current data on various guide dog-related issues.
In the months ahead we'll be going through the site's pages to clean up
grammatical matters, and to make it easier to manipulate the site's appearance, and to
update links when necessary. Hyper Text Mark-up Language, (HTML) is the language
used to create the site's pages. It was developed specifically for creating content for the
World-Wide Web. The most common practice is to enter HTML tags and elements for
the appearance of pages on each individual web page. However when one wants to
change something site wide such as the background color one must do that on every page
in the web site. This is a time-consuming and tedious task to say the least. However
there is a solution called a Cascading Stylesheet. This is a file created to control the
appearance of all pages of a web site from a main control center if you will. All of the
pages are linked to the Cascading Stylesheet. Rather than using elements in the HTML
Tags a class name is entered instead. In this way we can change the appearance of a site's
colors, text size, font, appearance of tables, and frames all from one place. Likewise
we're developing a way to keep links updated site wide without having to update them on
every single web page. Building a navigation bar that loads when each page is loaded
allows us to accomplish this with ease. Thus if we want to add an area dealing with a
particular issue of interest to guide dog users and want the link for that part of the site to
be accessible from any page we would simply add it to the link bar and it's done.
Alternatively we may decide to include this information in an all ready existing area of
the site. For example there is currently a proposal being put before the UK'S Department
for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, (DEFRA) to allow guide dogs coming to
England from countries like the United State to fly in the passenger cabin with their blind
handlers. Currently all animals entering the UK by air from countries classified as long
haul countries must fly as cargo. The United States is currently classified as a long haul
country. Guide dogs coming to the UK from some European Air Destinations can
accompany their blind handlers in the passenger cabin provided the flight is under 5
hours. This is very unfortunate and discriminatory as despite the feeling that guide dogs
could not handle the stress of a flight longer than 5 hours it has been done over, and over
again. We know this to be true as we hosted a blind person from Australia who flew here
with her guide dog. The flight from Melbourne Australia to Los Angeles is about 14
hours. The flight went without incident. Once we receive the documents, which were
submitted, to DEFRA and the British Government urging them to change this narrow
policy we'll post them in the UK portion of our Laws area of our web site for all to read.
It's amazing to see just how far we've come where protecting the rights of guide dog users
when compared with the rest of the World. Constructing this web site has given me and
others of the Internet Concerns Committee a first-hand look at how far we've come in this
While constructing this web site I've unearthed other interesting facts some are
dog related, and others not. For example when creating the links page for the various
guide dog schools, and World-wide I might add I discovered that guide dogs have caught
on in places you wouldn't expect to find them. For example Japan has quite a number of
guide dog schools scattered throughout the country. Like the Guide Dogs for the Blind
Association in the UK, a similar organization exists in France called the French
Federation of Guide Dog Schools. Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland also have a large
number of Guide Dog Schools. Did you know that Le Bourget Field is still in operation?
This is the airport where Charles Lindberg landed after his historic trans Atlantic crossing
aboard the Spirit of St. Louis in the 1920s. It's located outside of Parris and handles air
cargo and air charter service. It's amazing what you can unearth when constructing a web
This resource can help to bring guide dog users from around the
World together in ways not possible in the past. NAGDU has attempted to establish a
mentor program to encourage networking among guide dog users. A page explaining the
mentorship program is posted on our web site. An advantage of this program over the
NAGDU Discussion List is that one can submit specific criteria one must meet for
networking to occur. For example someone may want to connect with other guide dog
users who attended an NFB training center. Once the mentorship database is up and
running we can invite guide dog users from around the world to include their information
in this database. Then if for example someone might want to meet a guide dog user from
Iraq who has a Yellow Labrador Retriever they can submit these criteria to the
mentorship database. If the database finds a match the person doing the search will be
given the contact information of guide dog users who meet the specified criteria. When
promoted and managed properly web sites can go a long way to building communities of
people with like interests and concerns. Our web site will do that in the months and years
Has all of this effort been worth it? I was able to obtain some usage statistical
data from David Andrews and will share it with you below. The period covered in this
report is from July 1 to October 8 of 2003. I'll explain what these numbers are as we go.
They'll be given both as digits, and percentages:
Hits are registered whenever someone attempts to log on to a web site's URL.
During the period given above the NAGDU Web Site received 7902 hits. This made up
84% of the site's traffic.
This is the number of files downloaded by site visitors. During this period 160
files were downloaded making up 2% of our traffic. As more downloadable material is
posted to the site this number could sky rocket; especially as more dynamic content is
made available for downloading such as the audio version of Harness Up.
Pages or page views are the number of pages that were read by site visitors.
During this period we had 409 page views accounting for 4% of the site's traffic.
Visits are recorded when someone logs on to a web site. We had 406 visits
making up 4% of our site traffic. I should mention here that although the number of
visits is lower than the number of page views it should be kept in mind that visitors will
log on to view multiple pages of a web site.
This is the number of sites visitors were able to reach from our web site. There
are links to both the NFB's national web site and the NFB Net Site. This number will
jump once our links area is fully operational. From the NAGDU Web Site visitors linked
to 508 other web sites accounting for 5% of our traffic. This suggests to me that many
folks were able to reach both the NFB National Web Site, and the NFB Net Site via our
web site. Those who joined the NAGDU Discussion List via our web site may also be
included in this figure.
As NAGDU's activities become more widely varied, and NAGDU extends its
reach to the guide dog community new uses will be found for our web site to help us
achieve our organizational goals, and to create a greater sense of community among
guide dog users and interested individuals. The NAGDU Internet Concerns Committee
will continue to make improvements to the site's appearance and functionality, and will
explore new ways to enhance its content. We strongly urge folks to visit us often to learn
the latest news of what NAGDU is doing to create new opportunities and to win new
rights for guide dog users, and to work with the National Federation of the Blind to
change what it means to be blind.
Harness Up readers may remember the situation we described concerning Irene
McAlister and her experience with Mike Dalton, a totally unqualified trainer in Denver.
Irene had been referred to this "trainer" by a Guide Dogs of America instructor, a man
whose judgment she had good reason to trust. He had been a class supervisor at her first
school. This also meant that he could do a good job of matching and home placing her
current dog, Genna, a 57-pound Golden Retriever.
The dog given to her by Mike Dalton was named Rusty, also a Golden Retriever.
He was well behaved in the house, but was distractible while in the harness provided by
Mr. Dalton. Irene said that Rusty did understand obstacle clearance, although she got
little opportunity to practice it during the "training" they received or later. He did know
to stop at curbs, but was constantly playing in harness. This is to be expected since they
worked for a grand total of three days with Mr. Dalton. Irene estimates that the time
spent in "training" totaled about six hours. The only "work" they did was around the
neighborhood, and never once did they go into stores, malls, or other buildings.
Naturally, traffic checks did not comprise part of the curriculum. Becoming frightened
for her safety and that of her eight-year-old daughter, Irene stopped working Rusty. He is
now living with a man who wanted an adult dog who had some obedience training.
Of course, Genna and Irene got the real thing. Genna is two years old.
Since Guide Dogs of America knew that she would be a home placed dog for Irene, she
received special care in training. She was taken home by an instructor who has small
children. One of the instructor's children would walk with the mother while she worked
Genna. This gave Genna practice in walking with mother and child together. Also, since
Irene works as a receptionist at a day care center, the school could accurately determine
Genna's behavior with small children at home.
When Irene's instructor, Bob Wendler, arrived, the team worked with him for ten
consecutive days. Every morning for two hours or more, they could be seen working the
streets of Denver. They went to the mall, grocery stores, her vet, and her daughter's
school. They took the child to school every morning, and picked her up in the
afternoons. After five days, Irene was allowed to pick her daughter up from school as a
solo. The school is two blocks from her apartment, so this was a good start for a solo. Of
course, Bob did traffic checks. Her daughter was not allowed to go on the traffic check
trip, but she did work with them on several of the other trips. Her daughter is blind also,
so Irene has taught her to back up immediately should her mother back up from a car.
They also went to the Colorado Center for the Blind. While there, Bob was asked
to address the students concerning guide dogs. He explained the basics to the students.
There was a Leader graduate present, so Bob did not make his comments school specific.
He suggested that students considering a guide dog research the school they wish to
attend to be sure that school could meet their needs.
Irene has kept her retired dog who is thirteen. The dogs get along. They
sleep together. Genna, however, gets all the toys since the old dog doesn't want
to play much. When asked if there was any aggression, Irene said that once they
had words over a pop tart Irene accidentally dropped.
I asked Irene about her opinion of home placement compared to school training.
She thinks school training is easier since one does not need to consider one's job,
household chores, and other day-to-day living concerns. However, she did think that
home placement had the advantage of less down time since there was no need to wait for
other students to complete routes.
Once their training was completed, pictures were taken for the puppy raiser.
Since Guide Dogs of America has puppy raiser contact, Irene is to receive this
information so that she and the raiser may talk to each other. Usually students receive
follow up after one month. Since Irene received home placement, this was not done.
However, she expects to receive follow up next spring when the school comes to work
with another student near her area.
We would like to commend Guide Dogs of America for correcting its mistake.
The school turned what could have been a tragedy into a really nice experience for Irene.
When asked why she had not asked Mr. Dalton to leave her house, Irene said that he
knew just enough to be dangerous. Having been a Guide Dogs for the Blind puppy raiser
and having spied without permission upon their instructors, he learned enough to fool
Irene into thinking he was qualified to train her dog. Irene went on to say that she did not
know what to expect from home placement. Now she does.
This article appeared in The Seeing Eye Guide, Spring, 2003, and
is reprinted with permission.)
The Trustees of the Jane H. Booker Charitable Foundation have awarded a grant of $2
million to The Seeing Eye to establish the Jane H. Booker Chair in Canine Genetics.
Booker Foundation Trustees Milton A. Mausner, Esq. of Red Bank, New Jersey and U.S.
Trust representative Linda Franciscovich said the gift reflects Mrs. Booker's long time
support of The Seeing Eye mission.
Mrs. Booker, who lived in Middletown, New Jersey, died in 1994 and under the terms of
her estate created a foundation to provide for her favorite charities. She was a supporter
of The Seeing Eye for 26 years.
"We are pleased to establish this chair in Mrs. Booker's name to reflect her commitment
to The Seeing Eye and to attach her name to the scientific scope and worldwide
importance of The Seeing Eye's program in canine genetics," said Milton Mausner.
Under the terms of the grant, The Seeing Eye has created The Jane H. Booker
Endowment Fund for Canine Genetics. Income from the fund will help underwrite the
expenses of the canine genetics program.
"Mrs. Booker was inspired by the impact Seeing Eye dogs have on the lives of people
who are blind and her gift to us, through the Foundation, makes it possible for us to
always provide the best dogs possible to them," said Kenneth Rosenthal, president. "We
are honored to receive this outstanding support."
Dr. Eldin Leighton, who heads the school's genetics program, is now The Jane H. Booker
Director of Canine Genetics.
"The Booker Foundation gift is especially important to The Seeing Eye's continuing
success because it ensures that resources always will be available to employ the most
advanced thinking in canine genetics," said Dr. Leighton. "For over 20 years, The Seeing
Eye has been applying principles of population genetics to improve the ability of Seeing
Eye dogs to work as guides. This wonderful gift ensures that this effort will continue in
The Seeing Eye breeds its dogs to possess the characteristics necessary to successfully
guide a person who is blind. Those include a sound temperament and hips of high quality.
Through The Seeing Eye's membership in the Council of U.S. Dog Guide Schools and
the International Guide Dog Federation, Dr. Leighton meets with canine geneticists
worldwide and presents papers at meetings of the Council and the Federation. Dr.
Leighton's research abstracts on breeding are located on The Seeing Eye website
www.seeingeye.org and available to others worldwide.
"This is the first chair established at The Seeing Eye to secure the important work of key
initiatives that advance the school's mission," said Rosemary Carroll, Director of
Development and Public Affairs. "The Seeing Eye hopes to establish chairs in canine
health management, instruction and training, and finance administration."
Caption: Dr. Eldin Leighton, The Jane H. Booker Director of Canine Genetics
Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc. 371 East Jericho Turnpike Smithtown, New York 11787 (800) 548-4337 Fax (631) 361-5192 www.guidedog.org R. Michael Sergeant Joins Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind (June 13, 2003) The Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc. (Smithtown, New York), is delighted to welcome R. Michael Sergeant to the Guide Dog Foundation team as Southern Regional Manager, a new position. He joins the staff effective July 8th. "I have had the pleasure of working with Mike for many years," said Wells Jones, the Foundation's Chief Executive Officer. "Mike's skills are well known in the guide dog field." As Southern Regional Manager, Mike will be based out of the Tampa Bay (Florida) area. "I am very impressed with the Guide Dog Foundation's programs and services," Sergeant said. "They do a wonderful job of breeding and training guide dogs, and helping people who are blind. I am delighted and excited to be on the team." Mike's territory initially will include Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina, and other areas as needed. He will conduct home trainings, applicant interviews, and aftercare visits. Mike also will provide other forms of outreach and support to our blind and visually impaired consumers--and potential consumers--in the Southern region of the US. The need for this position arose during the Foundation's recent Strategic Planning Process, which mapped out the organization's future plans, Jones explained. "Mike's coordination of the Southern Region will help the Foundation efficiently and cost- effectively serve a larger number of consumers," he said. Since 1946, the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind Inc. has provided guide dogs free of charge to people who are blind and seek the increased mobility, independence and the companionship a guide dog provides. Its programs are provided completely free of charge, supported by contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations.
by Suzanne Whalen
Anyone old enough to understand news reports knows that, since the terrorist
attacks of September 11, 2001, security at US airports, train stations, and bus stations has
been heightened. No one questions the need to make travel as safe as possible.
However, there are some facts we must accept if we choose to continue living in a free,
open society. One of those facts is that there are no absolute guarantees. Another fact is
that the dignity of law-abiding travelers must be respected. Unfortunately, there have
been too many cases where passengers with disabilities have been subjected to
humiliating treatment during security searches. As President of NAGDU, I have received
phone calls and letters in which irate travelers have shared such experiences. Personally,
I was once forcibly removed from my wheelchair. I was not behaving belligerently. I
treated the screeners courteously, and I was prepared to cooperate with them in every
way. Nevertheless, I was dragged to my feet without ever being asked whether or not I
could stand. (It's a good thing I can stand for short periods of time. Otherwise, I would
have fallen to the floor.) During the subsequent search, which occurred right there in the
public security area of the airport, every part of my body was touched. I do mean every
part of my body, including areas that would be considered private.
In addition to the calls and letters I have received, I know that such degrading
treatment has been the topic on the NAGDU list and other lists. Therefore, the editor and
I thought "Harness Up" readers would be interested in an interview shared with graduates
of The Seeing Eye. The interview was presented on tape as part of The Seeing Eye's
2003 summer message to its graduates. The interview took place by telephone between
David Loux, The Seeing Eye's Manager of Field Operations, and Sandra Cammaroto. In
addition to making herself available for the telephone interview, Ms. Cammaroto visited
The Seeing Eye in September, 2002. She is the Senior Program Specialist with the
Transportation Security Administration (TSA). She is responsible for developing and
implementing policies as they pertain to screening passengers with disabilities. She
prepares the policies and sees that the contract organizations and agencies that present
this information to screeners do so appropriately and accurately. In 2000, The Seeing
Eye prepared a poster focusing on security checkpoint screening. TSA has adopted the
procedures outlined in this poster. We thank The Seeing Eye for giving us permission to
present information excerpted from this taped interview.
Before we present highlights from the taped interview, we'd also like to present a
useful phone number: 800-778-4838. This number is available from seven o'clock in the
morning to eleven o'clock at night, seven days a week. This phone number has been
publicized by the Department of Transportation, and, according to David Loux, it is
under-utilized. By calling this number, you can get direct assistance about specific
situations you have encountered. By calling this number, you can also obtain information
about the Air Carrier Access Act, and other general information. You may also request
written materials, and request assistance in filing formal complaints.
One key point made clear in the interview is that an important goal of TSA is to
ensure that there is consistency in the screening procedures used at all checkpoints. Ms.
Cammaroto said, "One of the things that TSA has done, as I said, in working with the
disability coalition and your organization is come up with protocol of how we can do
things so that everything is the same every time at every airport everywhere. For
instance, one of the main goals of the program that we teach the screeners, and we have
taught fifty thousand screeners nationwide how to do this, is to never separate the team,
to keep the team together, the person with their dog guide, as they go through the process,
and allow the person to determine how it's best for their dog to go through the system.
For instance, that the person would either let the dog go in front of them, with them, or
behind them. But at that time, they're maintaining control of their dog guide as they
move through the walk-through metal detector and through the process." After
emphasizing that screeners are specifically instructed that they may not require a handler
to be separated from his or her dog, Ms. Cammaroto said, "What's important about that is
the team stays together, and this is what we've taught our screeners as well. So their
expectation is that when a person who's blind that has a service animal comes through,
they expect that that team will stay together, and they're not going to separate you. If
they do, that's something that TSA wants to know about, and you should be letting Dave
Loux know." I interrupt her quote here to express my own opinion that, if you are not a
Seeing Eye graduate, you should let your own guide dog school know when you have a
problem at a security checkpoint. It is true that The Seeing Eye's poster inspired the
protocol on which the screeners are trained. However, this doesn't mean that the other
schools are not interested in helping their graduates solve access problems. Ms.
Cammaroto continued, "We really stress the importance of keeping that team together."
Dave Loux then pointed out, "Another statement which maybe we can address as
fact is to say that a service animal handler cannot be requested to remove equipment or
pouches from their service animal." Ms. Cammaroto agreed, adding, "That's a really big
improvement. I think a lot of people have told me that that was a problem in the past,
that the belongings were taken off the dog guide and put through the x-ray and then the
dog would be signaled that they're off work and wander away. So now we tell screeners,
and we tell persons who are visually impaired or blind, that under no circumstances
should the belongings on the dog be taken off. That means capes, the halter, the harness,
backpacks, anything that's on your dog, should not be removed from your dog, and
instead, what will happen is, once you and your dog have gone through the walk-through
metal detector, you're going to alarm. That's because the harness and the halter on the
dog does have metal. So that will happen, and what will happen at that point is that the
screener will come and they will do a hand wanding of the person and then they will also
screen your dog by doing a visual and physical inspection. They will do a pat down with
the hands on the dog. They'll look at the harness and the halter and if there's any
backpack or anything on the dog, they will open those up and look inside to make sure,
just to review those."
During this discussion of visual and physical inspection of the dog, three
additional and very critical issues were raised. First, the inspections are external only.
The use of invasive procedures to search the dog's internal body cavities is never, ever
permitted. Gigi told me months ago about someone's battle with airport security
screeners who wanted to give the dog an enema to make sure that the dog had not been
forced to swallow contraband, similar to what human drug smugglers sometimes do.
Prying the dog's mouth open to look inside is also not permitted. The second critical
piece of information is this: Before performing physical and visual inspections of the
outside of the dog's body, and before opening pouches or backpacks on the dog to inspect
their contents, screeners must always ask the handler's permission. Based on my
experiences, this regulation is one that needs more consistent implementation. The third
critical item is something I didn't know until preparing this article. Before touching the
passenger, the screener must put on rubber gloves. The screener must also wear gloves
while touching the service animal and while touching the passenger's belongings. Some
passengers have been alarmed, thinking that the gloves meant the screener was about to
examine the dog internally, as a vet would. As already mentioned, internal inspection is
never permitted. The requirement for gloves does not need to cause concern.
Therefore, if a guide dog user, perhaps in a misguided attempt to be helpful,
removes the equipment from the dog, or drops the leash, or hands the leash to someone
else, or invites the screener to examine the dog internally, this may confuse the screeners
and may confuse other passengers as well. Ms. Cammaroto emphasized that it's best to
stick with the protocol on which the screeners are trained. This protocol is outlined in the
Transportation Security Administration's web site, www.tsa.gov. If you look under
"Tips for Persons with Disabilities," there is a section on visual impairments and persons
using service animals, including dog guides. You will find the protocol there.
Ms. Cammaroto explained that, if a passenger is wearing an outer jacket, that
should be removed and sent through X-ray. After that point was made, David Loux
asked the question about private screenings. Sometimes, for example, passengers are
wearing medical devices such as pacemakers or insulin pumps, that set off the alarm.
The screeners must investigate every time that alarm goes off. In order to do that, they
might have to ask a passenger to lift the shirt, for example, so they can see the medical
device. They sometimes ask passengers to go into a room for a private screening. The
point to this section of the interview is that passengers may not be forced to undergo a
private screening. It is their choice, and they can either choose to be searched in a private
setting or in the public security area.
If you wish to contact David Loux by e-mail, his e-mail address is
This interchange between David Loux and Sandra Cammaroto is informative, and
it shows real progress. We have a long way to go before people with disabilities can
breeze through security with the same ease and lack of apprehension that most passengers
do. But we've taken some very positive steps in that direction.
This article appeared in The Seeing Eye Guide, Spring, 2003, and
is reprinted with permission. Dr. Holle is the Attending Veterinarian and the Director of
Canine Health Management for The Seeing Eye.)
The battle plan against fleas and ticks has historically been a three-pronged attack
against the stages of flea life on your dog, in the internal environment (including home,
office and car), and in the external environment (like your yard or dog run). The recent
advances in flea control products has place the emphasis on preventing flea infestations
on "on the dog" products. Close attention to faithful administration of these products
combined with good housekeeping practices in the internal and external environments
often helps one avoid the need for treatment of these environments.
The female adult flea lays tiny white eggs on the dog. These fall into the
surrounding environment. A single flea can lay as many as 28 eggs per day, which can
lead to a rapid population explosion!
After an incubation period of two to twelve days, the eggs hatch into motile
larvae, which feed on dry blood, flea feces and other organic matter. They burrow into
carpeting, upholstery, floor crevices and love outdoor shady moist areas like beneath
bushes and in flowerbeds. The larval stage usually lasts from two to three weeks.
Moderate temperatures and high humidity favor more rapid development. The mature
larva spins a cocoon and enters a pupal stage. Again, depending upon temperature and
humidity, this stage lasts another two to three weeks. The adult flea emerges from the
cocoon and seeks a host for its first blood meal. Mating and egg production follow, and
the cycle is repeated. For each adult flea on a dog, we estimate that there are about 99 in
developing stages in the environment. In any control program, we must therefore have an
emphasis on "the next generation"!
Ticks are found in the eastern states, the Upper Midwest, the Pacific Northwest
and parts of Texas. Ticks thrive in shady, moist environments with tall grasses, brush
and woodlands. Ticks actually lie in wait, using an organ that senses heat and carbon
dioxide, and jump onto unsuspecting animals and humans as they pass. Ticks transmit
the widest variety of pathogens of any blood sucking arthropod, including bacteria (e.g.
Lyme Disease causing Borrelia burgdorferi), rickettsiae (e.g. Ehrlichia canis and Rocky
Mountain Spotted fever), protozoa (e.g. Babesia), and viruses. They can have very
complicated life cycles, which can involve developing through various life stages on or in
a number of different species of animals.
We find both flea eggs and adults on the dog. It makes sense to use both an
adulticide to kill adults, and an insect growth regulator or insect development inhibitor to
prevent eggs from developing into larvae. It is especially important to kill adult fleas on
dogs that suffer from flea allergy. It is the saliva of the flea, introduced into the dog as
the flea takes a blood meal, to which the dog is actually allergic. Ticks attach themselves
to dogs for blood meals. Control on the dog can be achieved by spot application of a
monthly product (typically between the shoulder blades where the dog is unable to lick it
The internal environment
All stages of flea life are present indoors. Reduce the number of eggs and larvae
by vacuuming thoroughly and frequently (at least twice each week). Special emphasis
should be placed on the area(s) your dog spends time. These might include under the
desk, the floor of the car, next to your bed, in his own dog bed, carpeted areas, etc.
When you wash your dog's bedding use hot water.
The external environment
All stages of flea life are also present outside. Remember that moderate
temperatures and high humidity favor growth. In very hot, dry climates, eggs and larvae
will die rapidly in all but protected areas. These include shaded areas and damp ground
under bushes and shrubs, or under leaves and litter, these are the same areas that are
favorable to ticks. Raking and removing leaves, litter, grass clippings, or other debris
will help to minimize the flea friendly areas. Decorative fencing can be used to keep
your dog out of these areas.
? Every dog and cat in your family needs to be treated. If you treat your dog guide and
ignore the cat, you're living dangerously.
? Be sure that any products you use on cats are labeled as safe for use on cats. Some
products are for use on dogs only and could be harmful to cats.
? Have sound advice on the safety and efficacy of the products you choose. Some
combinations of products can be hazardous to your dog's health.
? Discuss your plan with your veterinarian. He or she will be able to guide you through
the myriad products on the market, and will know which products have been working
well in your geographic area.
The following is a listing of a variety of useful and widely available products. Your
veterinarian will be able to answer questions regarding these products and others
available in your area.
Topical Spot Treatments
This is a topical application for monthly use, its active ingredient is imidacloprid,
which has only adulticide activity. It is not labeled as effective against ticks and
contains no insect growth regulator.
This monthly topical application has the same active ingredient as Advantage®
with the additional permethrin. The addition of permethrin enables the product to
repel and kill Deer, Lone Star, American Dog and Brown dog ticks and
mosquitoes. The permethrin also kills flea larvae in the dog's environment. This
product cannot be used on cats!
Frontline® Top Spot ™
This contains the active ingredient fipronil, an adulticide. It is effective against
adult fleas and Deer, Lone Star, American Dog and Brown dog ticks. It contains
no insect growth regulator.
This contains the same active ingredient as Frontline Top Spot™
with the additional benefit of an insect growth regulator, methoprene! It is
effective against adult fleas and ticks and prevents flea development.
This is another monthly topical. It has the advantage of preventing flea eggs from
hatching in addition to being an adulticide. This product is also the only topical
heartworm preventive, is effective against some intestinal parasites, ear mites,
scabies and certain ticks, but so far it is not labeled as being effective against the
Deer tick, which carries Lymes disease!
This is an adulticide product containing the active ingredient, nitenpyram. The
product starts acting within 30 minutes of administration. Most fleas are gone
within 4 hours on dogs and six on cats. Fleas must be taking a bloodmeal to come
into contact with this product. It is often used in the case of an infestation to do a
"quick kill" of adults. One application lasts for 24 hrs.
This insect development inhibitory product can reduce the number of fleas in the
dog's environment by preventing the development of fleas. It has no adulticide
activity and should be used in conjunction with an adulticide such as Frontline
Top Spot, Frontline Plus, Advantage or Advantix, especially in flea allergic dogs.
The active ingredient in Program, lufenuron, is also present in a combination
product called, Sentinel®. Sentinel is a flea development inhibitory and
heartworm preventive product, which also is effective against a number of
In the event that despite your best efforts you find yourself facing an infestation, or if
you are in a high risk area and prefer the added security of premises treatment, there are
safe and effective products available for your use. Be sure to read all directions, and
follow all of the cautions advised on the product.
Indoor Environmental Products
Siphotrol® Plus II Area Treatment
This aerosol spray contains both an insect growth regulator and an adulticide.
Virbac® Knockout™ Room and Area Treatment
This aerosol spray contains both an insect growth regulator and an adulticide.
This is an internal environmental sodium polyborate product which many of our
graduates have praised as being highly successful in preventing indoor
Outdoor Environmental Products
Knockout ™Yard Spray Concentrate
These yard sprays contain insect growth regulators and should be concentrated in
shaded areas, such as under decks or stairs.
Two years ago, we received notice of an international conference planned for
April 2003 in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Within minutes of having our reader read the
letter, we decided to respond to the call for papers. Still basking in fond memories of our
1998 trip to SA, the prospect of renewing old acquaintances was irresistible!
An intriguing element of our traveling lives is the recurring coincidence of
meeting people prior to making a trip to their part of the world. Meeting South African
veterinarians Quixi Sonntag and Helen Zulch at an international veterinary conference in
British Columbia in August 2001 was one such occasion.
As soon as our presentations on maintaining the guide dog/blind person
team and international travel with guide dogs were accepted by the International Mobility
Conference, we went into major planning mode! Through contacts with the animal health
care community, we obtained sponsorship from Hills Pet Nutrition. Since Escort and
Echo had recently been switched to Hills Brain Diet for Senior Dogs, this seemed like a
Helen was instrumental in obtaining an invitation to speak at
Onderstepoort veterinary school and Quixi was invaluable in breaking through the
myriad governmental requirements allowing Escort and Echo to accompany us into the
country. In addition to the usual rabies and heartworm tests, SA requires a slew of
expensive blood tests. Import papers had to be filled out which made us nervous, since
they were designed for pets traveling in cargo. Quixi's contacts with the import and
agricultural veterinary departments assured us that the appropriate authorities were aware
of our plans.
As a newly-inducted member of the Lions Club, Ed contacted some of the
Lions Club members in Stellenbosch and Cape Town. We also made arrangements with
Gill Taylor, the tour guide on our previous trip. At Gill's suggestion, we selected a three-
day sightseeing tour.
A major concern was our physical comfort, or lack thereof, on a 14.5 hour
flight from Atlanta to Cape Town. Contacting South African Airways (SAA), we made
them an offer they couldn't resist! In exchange for presentations to their staff about
disabled passengers traveling with guide, hearing and service dogs, we asked for an
upgrade to business class. Receiving confirmation from SAA training supervisor Paige
Maddams, the deal was struck! Now knowing we would be comfortable, negotiations on
behalf of the dogs were initiated. Arrangements were made to have an SAA staff member
in Atlanta take the dogs down the service stairs for a relief break on the tarmac just prior
to boarding. Similar plans were put into place on our arrival at Cape Town.
When departure day arrived on March 28, 2003, we left for the Fresno
airport with great anticipation. Accompanying us on this exciting venture was friend
Debbie Prieto, of guide dog relief fame at national conventions. We all spent the night in
Atlanta with friend Helene Goodman, who is like a niece to us.
Getting an early start the next morning and sharing a bagel breakfast with
Helene and her fiance Mike, we were off to the airport. Fortunately, as we entered the
chaos of Atlanta International, a friendly voice greeted us. Stanley, a Complaint
Resolution Officer had attended a session we did for Delta Air Lines and helped
chauffeur us through the check-in process and security screening. On entering the
international terminal, we really felt we were on our way!
Filled with excitement and anticipation, we were pleased to meet Ken
Rosenthal, CEO of The Seeing Eye, also on his way to the conference. As usual, Escort
and Echo attracted the attention of some friendly folks. Renowned animal trainer and
television personality Jack Hanna was traveling to SA with his wife, daughter, friend and
camera crew. Eva, a dog-loving SAA employee, introduced herself and assumed the role
of dog walker. Quickly returning from an excursion to the tarmac, she excitedly reported
both boys did everything! Reassured, we boarded the plane and took our seats. And what
wonderful seats they were! With lots of leg room for our feet and the dogs, with seats that
significantly reclined, big thick pillows and blankets, we settled in for an extremely long,
but comfortable flight.
In Cape Town we were greeted by Kevin, another enthusiastic SAA
employee. We were whisked to a relief area alongside the terminal for the dogs, then
through customs and immigration. Cape Town Lions Club member Arthur Bernstein
warmly greeted us and drove us to Stellenbosch. During the 45 minute drive, he
described the surroundings and Debbie was stunned by the level of extreme poverty she
saw in the ramshackle tin shacks lining the road. Many native non-European houses have
dirt rather than grass surrounding them to more easily spot snakes in the vicinity. As we
entered Stellenbosch the scenery changed to beautiful old trees and stone-lined irrigation
channels. Stellenbosch, a university town, is one of the oldest cities in South Africa and
classes are conducted in Afrikaans rather than English.
Settling into our room at The Avenues guest house, we fed the dogs and
were off to our first social event. Some Stellenbosch Lions joined us at the Mug and
Bean, a popular university coffee house. The dogs were warmly greeted and offered a
bowl of water. As lovers of weak coffee, we were impressed with a choice of strong,
medium or weak brew. Following this refreshment break, we introduced Debbie to the
joy of gift shopping in an African market.
Back at the guest house, we unpacked and enjoyed the incredibly warm
hospitality of hosts Wilma and Nevil. Confirmed dog lovers, they encouraged us to allow
Escort and Echo free run of their beautiful fenced-in garden. As we enjoyed a cup of tea
on the garden lawn chairs, the boys explored the area, sniffing out the scents of Wilma
and Nevil's four canine kids.
For the next three days we were involved with the conference. Taking
time out, we did a presentation for Hills at a hotel in Capetown to an audience of more
than 100 veterinarians, humane society officers, veterinary technicians therapy dog
handlers and service dog partners. Not realizing that South Africans have their own sense
of time, we kept wondering when we would get to speak! Finally, at 8:30 p.m. we were
introduced. To our amazement, no one left the room until we were finished at 10:30!
One of the things we miss since leaving New York City and moving to
Fresno is an authentic Jewish delicatessen. It's strange to go all the way to Cape Town to
have a wonderful lunch of chopped liver, chopped herring, potato pancakes, rye bread
and bagels! What a feast! Arthur Bernstein and his wife Fifi knew just the place to get
these delicacies and we joined them at their home to devour these delectable dietary
Following our Stellenbosch and Capetown stay, we flew to Johannesburg.
Quixi met us at the airport and drove us to her home and showed us to our rooms in her
guest house! How luxurious to have a house all to ourselves. The only thing missing was
a television for Debbie! Echo and Escort had ten fenced-in acres to run around, and they
had a blast!
Quixie's husband runs a boarding kennel for cats and dogs and specializes
in preparing pets for overseas transportation since many of his clients are diplomats who
are constantly being reassigned to new overseas posts. Toni got a cat fix by visiting with
some of the residents at the cattery.
For us, the highlight of the trip was being able to interact directly with
lions and elephants. Our tour guide stayed behind with the dogs while we had our hands
At the elephant sanctuary, five young females between the ages of 5 and 9
years had been rescued from Botswana, a neighboring country and were being cared for.
Sitting on the patio drinking juice before the formal tour, we were startled by a weird
sound. Two tiny curious mongooses raced across the deck and jumped on the dogs. Not
realizing these were inoculated pets, we feared for the safety of our teammates. Not to
worry, these critters were friendly, disease free and fascinated by our boys. They live
with a chihuahua, and must have thought the Goldens were giants!
As we examined the ears, trunks and tails of the five girls, we must have
looked like the proverbial blind people trying to describe what an elephant looked like!
Actually, we've interacted with elephants before at our local Fresno zoo and the San
Diego wild life preserve facility, but this was different! We were in South Africa, not
California! We even got to stroll with the elephants as they meandered up a hill to a
On another day while Gill watched the dogs, Debbie guided us to the lion
enclosures. Unlike TP who was an extremely descriptive guide at the elephant refuge, our
lion tour guide was not too informative, but we did learn a bit about the residents. The
cubs are taken away from their mothers at three weeks to be bottle fed by the staff. In this
way, they quickly accept human care and human touch. In the first enclosure, we held
and played with six 5-7 week old cubs. Debbie was reluctant at first, but soon cuddled a
wooly body. One little guy immediately began suckling on Toni's fingers. These babies
have huge feet, small tails and somewhat rounded ears. Only male lions have manes,
which they acquire at age two. We learned lions have black at the top of their heads and
the tip of their tails, so they can see each other while traveling in the bush.
Our next lion encounter was with six month olds. Ed stood, while Debbie and
Toni sat on the ground. They climbed all over us licking and mouthing, but when they
began chewing on Toni's purse, she thought it best to stand up! After this hands on
experience, we walked through the park while Debbie oohed and aahed over the majesty
of these glorious creatures. Although it was thrilling to touch the cubs, it was sad to learn
that many of the residents would be sent to hunting lodges to serve the distorted needs of
some human hunters.
On a tour through a wildlife preserve, we got a special thrill when a male elephant
in musk, seeking a female elephant, stood just feet away from the open vehicle we were
in, swinging his trunk and stamping his feet. Our Land Rover stayed put until the
elephant unblocked the road. During the rest of the tour, our guide spotted all sorts of
deer and antelope, giraffe, rhinos and hippos. It was fun listening to the gurgling of
hippos as they emerged from underwater to breathe for a few minutes and then submerge
On the last day of our excursion, we visited a cultural exhibition where members
of five different tribes had constructed thatched huts and demonstrated many aspects of
traditional life. Escort and Echo guided us through these sites, but when we participated
in a tribal concert featuring extremely loud drums, Gill took them outside where they
could rest comfortably while we danced and chanted with the performers!
Our final days were spent at the South African Guide-Dogs Association (SAGA),
where CEO Ken Lord welcomed us. A group of six students had just arrived hours before
us and we enjoyed getting to know them. Unfortunately, they were not matched with their
canine teammates until we left for home. The trip home was easier in a way, since the
plane stopped for refueling at Cape Verdi and we were able to get the boys off for relief
after only nine hours in the air. Since we were again upgraded in return for doing
presentations for SAA in Capetown and Johannesburg, the flights were easy on us and
the dogs had plenty of room on the floor. A great trip and great memories!
Shortly after returning home we went to visit Dana Ard who was training with her
successor dog black Labrador Vergie at Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Raphael. Little
did we know how soon Ed would be in the same position! Following our visit with Dana,
vice-president of NAGDU, we were scheduled to do a presentation at the University of
California at Davis veterinary school. We took the opportunity to have Echo seen by a
staff ophthalmologist who was appalled at the deterioration in Echo's eyesight. He felt
Echo's sight in the left eye had diminished to an extent that he was no longer safe.
Shocked by this assessment, we felt our ability to keep Echo working was no longer
prudent and Ed began applying to guide dog schools for a successor. Ed had two
requirements, he wanted a Golden Retriever and to be trained at home. Guide Dogs for
the Blind offered to provide a Golden and home training, so Ed began training with
Latrell a week before the Louisville convention and completed training after convention.
Like many of us going through this type of transition, Ed wondered if he hadn't been
premature in his decision to retire Echo. All such doubts were set aside when Echo began
showing reluctance to continue in his guide role during the convention. Following full
retirement, Echo seems absolutely content to let Latrell take on this task while he stays at
home or accompanies us on walks or to friends' homes on leash and out of harness.
Working with a new guide is always traumatic, but two-year-old Latrell is fitting into the
family nicely. He has already been on several trips with us and his behavior on planes, in
airports and in hotels is exemplary.
As many of you know, we decided to leave the Federation after the Informed
choice resolution was overwhelmingly passed at the convention. This decision was not a
hasty one. It's sad to leave an organization one has been a part of for many years.
After the publication of the October 1995 issue of the Monitor, many guide dog
partner Federationists left the organization. We decided not to, and work for greater
acceptance within NFB of those of us choosing to work with guide dogs as our mobility
At the November 1995 California state convention, Dr. Jernigan was the national
representative, and he and Mrs. Jernigan attended the Guide Dog Committee meeting
which we chaired. We had an open, frank and somewhat heated discussion with Dr.
Jernigan at that time about the NFB leadership's position toward guide dogs and guide
dog partner Federationists. It was at that time that he challenged us to take on
responsibility for maintaining the guide dog relief area in order to decrease an element of
concern and conflict between cane and guide dog handlers.
Having no experience in setting up and maintaining a relief area for more than
100 peeing and pooping dogs, we turned to the experts. The person who oversees dog
shows throughout California, after overcoming his suspicion that we were going into
competition with him, described how he set up relief boxes in indoor facilities. Using his
suggestions as a model, we developed our own version. It was so successful at the
Anaheim convention in 1996 that Dr. Jernigan gave us an enthusiastic endorsement in his
banquet remarks. Thus began our careers and the inauguration of the Canine Concerns
Over the years we have expanded our convention related activities to include the
recruitment and training of a corps of local volunteers and providing gifts for those
choosing to register at the NAGDU desk in the lobby. We have also enjoyed working
with Suzanne Whalen and the other officers of NAGDU.
We have expressed our objections to the informed choice resolution elsewhere in
this issue. We want to say that we will miss you at future conventions.
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.
Of course, we know that there are state and federal laws in place to guarantee
access to public places for people with disabilities using assistance animals. Yet, there is
so much turnover among taxi drivers and among workers in stores, hotels, and
restaurants. Anyone partnered with a dog for any length of time knows that, sooner or
later, you're bound to meet up with someone who doesn't know the law and will deny you
the right to enter and receive service with your dog. If you refuse to leave, the employee
may call the police. You'd think there would be no problem after that, but, unfortunately,
there are no guarantees that all police officers know the law. Some do not.
That's why our hats are off to the California Hotel and Lodging Association.
They have produced two outstanding training videos. One is intended for owners and
managers of hotels, motels, inns, and restaurants. The target audience for the other video
is local law enforcement.
I first saw these videos at the 2002 convention of the International Association of
Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP). I was a presenter at this convention, having been
invited to demonstrate working with Caddo from my power wheelchair. Jim Abrams, the
Executive Vice President of the California Hotel and Lodging Association, was also a
presenter. He showed the two videos and explained that he is looking for funding so that
these videos can be disseminated nationwide.
I knew NAGDU members would be interested in seeing these videos, so we
showed them at the business meeting in Louisville this past summer.
The response was very enthusiastic! The videos are well paced. With apologies
to all attorneys out there, sometimes material designed to educate people about the law
can be presented in a manner that is so dry and boring. I was recently part of a group
asked to evaluate some training videos on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),
and frankly, I had a hard time staying awake! On the other hand, sometimes there is so
much effort to be "cute" in video presentations that the accuracy suffers. These videos
avoid both those pitfalls. The information is very clear about what questions the
employee or police officer may and may not ask, what is considered an assistance animal,
and the rights and responsibilities of both the guest and the business. In both videos, the
scene is first enacted with the guest being denied service, and later the situation is
Jim Abrams would like to hear from NAGDU members. He welcomes feedback
on the videos. He has some ideas for funding sources, but we can share our ideas with
him if we wish. He sent me one copy of each video, and did not charge me. I am
assuming (though not guaranteeing) that if you request copies of either or both videos,
you will also receive one copy of each one you request free of charge. Perhaps as a local
chapter project, we can arrange times to show the video intended for police officers to
your local police. In the same manner, we can ask to attend the meeting of our local or
state Hotel, Motel, and Lodging Association, and show the video there, or make
presentations with the video at local hotels and restaurants. Jim Abrams's contact
information is as follows: phone: (916) 444-5780. Fax: (916) 444-5848. Address: PO
Box 160405, 414 29th Street, Sacramento, California 95816. e-mail:
It's a positive sign when an industry association takes the lead in educating its
peers, and also reaches out to law enforcement. The more people can spread the word,
the faster the word will be spread. Hopefully, the access we enjoy will be greater, and the
hassles we endure will be fewer.
The meeting opened at 7:10 PM, Saturday June 28, 2003
President Whalen first welcomed all the new people to the meeting. She then
introduced the officers for the benefit of the newcomers. President Whalen also
introduced the school representatives attending our convention. They are as follows:
Guiding Eyes: Becky Barnes, Crissy Anderson, Jim Gardner, Andrea Martine, and Yvette
Guide Dog Foundation: Richard Kelleher.
Leader: Larry Heflin, Brad McKenna, and Margaret Pinchar.
Guide Dogs for the Blind: Brian Francis, Bill Archie, and Theresa Duncan.
Southeastern: Rita Princivali and Rick Holden.
Fidelco: Peter Nowicki, Rebecca Cook, and Cheryl McGraw.
The Seeing Eye: Ken Rosenthal, Mike Moran, David Loux, Chelsey Morrow, Christy
Baine, Walt Sutton, Doug Roberts, Brad Scott, Chris Matoon, Drew Gibbon, Mike Artis,
and Lukas Franck.
President Whalen announced that the National Braille Press has a book on sale
about a guide dog. Also, she mentioned that the US Council of Guide Dog Schools has a
booth for people to get information about guide dogs, including applications and
brochures from the various schools. President Whalen told people about a mistake in the
seminar starting time in the NFB agenda. She explained about the seminar's proper
starting time and its purpose.
The president introduced Ed and Toni Eames. Ed and Toni came up to discuss
the relief areas. Toni introduced Debbie, Dolores, and Linda who help with the relief
area. She also introduced Bobbie who is a co-ordinator of volunteers. Toni gave the
number for the NAGDU table. She explained about the raffle drawing. Ed briefly gave
out information about IAADP and then offered applications for it.
We discussed a motion to approve the minutes as published in Harness Up. The
We next discussed guide dogs in rehab centers. President Whalen invited Pam
Allen to our meeting, but she was unable to come. President Whalen explained the
policy of the Louisiana Center as told to her by Ms. Allen. A discussion was held about
the matter. President Whalen told the group about the issues surrounding the problems in
Iowa. There was some confusion as to which schools had either signed onto the
complaint or written letters in support of it. Several people gave their views on this
Priscilla next gave her Treasurer's report. President Whalen took questions. A
motion to accept the Treasurer's report was made. The motion was seconded and passed.
In the past, the Division has donated to the White Cane Fund, the TenBrook Fund, the
SUN, and the Jernigan Fund. It was decided to do so again. The $50 prize was also
discussed. It was going to be given on the following Wednesday.
Several schools gave their updates during the business meeting, due to scheduling
considerations. First, Peter Nowicki from Fidelco gave his update. Several questions
were asked concerning follow up and sleep shades during training at Fidelco.
Richard Kelleher for Guide Dog Foundation gave the school's update. Questions
were asked about follow up as well for each of the schools.
Mike Moran from The Seeing Eye next gave the update for the school. The
biggest change Mike mentioned was the school's starting to train Seeing Eye graduates
needing wheelchairs on a case-by-case basis.
Next, Toni discussed the NAGDU dog sitting service for the banquet.
Theresa Duncan with Guide Dogs for the Blind next mentioned the wine and cheese
event next Tuesday evening. Everyone was invited.
President Whalen discussed the situation with Guide Dogs of America and what
happened with Irine McAlister. She commended the school for making Irine's situation
right by providing her with home training.
Pete Donahue talked about our new NAGDU web site. www.nfb-nagdu.org is
our new web site address. We are being hosted by the NFB Net. Pete described the
categories that will be on the web site. Questions were taken.
We next discussed Jim Abrams's films from the California Hotel and Motel
Lodging Association. We showed the videos. The first is for hotel, motels, and
restaurants. The second one is for the police. These videos describe access laws for
service animals. We agreed to put in contact information for these films into the next
Harness Up. Questions and comments were taken. Pete Donahue suggested that we add
the text of these films to our web site. A motion was made and seconded to support the
films. Jim Moynahan, Marion Dwizdala and President Whalen are going to work on a
resolution for next year supporting the films.
Marion Gwizdala presented his resolution concerning Southeastern. Gigi started
reading the resolution, but it developed that this copy was not the one ultimately
presented to the resolution committee. The issue was tabled until the correct copy could
be procured. It was later read and discussed at the seminar "A Guide Dog In Your Life."
We next discussed the Department of Transportation guidelines. Gigi, Gary
Thompson, and Ed discussed the guidelines and the problems encountered by guide dog
users. Questions were taken. We discussed options including contacting DOT about
these regulations. It was decided to put the regulations in Harness Up.
A motion was made and seconded for adjournment at 09:58 Pm.
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