GDUI Announcement, September 12, 2016

Dear GDUI Members and Friends,

We’re sure you’ve noticed! Our web site and chat and leadership lists have been down for much longer than we, or our new host, predicted.

Our webmaster, Steve, explains it this way: Our transfer to a new web host was successful. However, along with the transfer, several obstacles materialized. We are working to resolve these issues and hope that the web site will be up and running, and even better than before, sometime during the coming week. We appreciate all of your patience.

Remember, patience is said to be a virtue. (I know, I know… Waiting is not my best skill either! But we will be back online and members of our chat list will be chatting again just as soon as we can make it happen). Meanwhile, if you need to reach us, contact Sarah at our toll-free number: 866.799.8436.

A Top Dog Raffle! Would you like to own a pair of Disney one-day only passes for all four of the Orlando theme parks?  These tickets will be good for two years with very few blackout dates.

The Top Dog 2017 team is raffling off two pairs of these passes to assist with funding the Top Dog conference, scheduled for January 12-15, 2017.  With each ticket that you purchase, you will have two chances to win, one for each pair of the one-day only passes for all four of the theme parks.  The cost per ticket is $5.00 or you may purchase three for $10.00.  Please feel free to purchase as many tickets as you like to better your opportunity for winning.  The drawings for the two winners will take place on Thursday, December 1,2016.  This raffle is open to all.

To purchase your tickets, please contact the Top Dog 2017 registrar, Kathleen Trutschel via phone at (386) 307-8275 , or via e-mail at

Registration is Now Open for Top Dog 2017: contact Top Dog 2017 Registrar, Kathleen Trutschel at 386.257.9337 if you wish to register via telephone.

To register online, visit this link:

Top Dog Dates are Friday, January 13 through Sunday, January 15, 2017.

The Top Dog hotel is  The Holiday Inn And Suites across from Universal Orlando, 5905 Kirkman Road; Orlando, FL 32819. You may reach the hotel by telephone at
407.351.3333. or 800.216.0635.

Deadline for Top Dog 2017 registration is December 12, 2016.

The conference schedule, links and  phone numbers for hotel registrations, information about paratransit in Orlando, and all the details about Top Dog 2017 are available at the web site: Willow and I are looking forward to seeing you there!

Meetings and advocacy are Always ongoing for GDUI!

Despite the current status of our web site, GDUI board members and leaders continue to work hard on your behalf. Our committee chairs and co-chairs are all in place, Nolan is working on the Fall PawTracks, committees are holding their first meetings of the Fall, and everyone is gearing up for our first board meeting of the new administration, scheduled for September 24, at 1:00 p.m. Of course, all members are cordially invited to attend, via phone, at this number: 712.432.0075. The Participant Code is: 919245-pound. We haven’t met since our meeting in early July at the GDUI convention, and our agenda is growing. We hope you will attend.

Meanwhile, I continue to participate in the process which we hope will yield more sensible, less ambiguous regulations regarding the Air Carrier Access Act(ACAA),  to make all people with disabilities who fly – including those of us who fly with our guide and service animals – safer and more comfortable while addressing many ongoing concerns of the air carriers. Negotiations have been ongoing since May with conference calls involving the Service Animals Working Group, at which I represent GDUI, scheduled at least twice a month, and monthly meetings of the full committee, at which Tony Stephens represents ACB and GDUI, occurring for several days each month. I cannot predict the outcome of these negotiations, but I can assure you that GDUI is taking your needs and our collective experiences on planes and in airports very seriously as we participate in fact finding and proposing solutions to the problems we have all experienced and advocate for changes that make sense on your behalf.

The TSA’s 14th Annual Coalition Conference is coming right up on September 20. I want to thank GDUI member, Cindy Labon, who will be representing GDUI at the upcoming meeting. We are grateful to Cindy for offering to attend, and we know that she will serve the interests of GDUI members well.

Former GDUI affiliate, MAGDU, to Gain a New Focus – and a New Name! Maryland-Area Guide Dog Users, which has been inactive since 2010, is scheduled to cease its formal existence as a not-for-profit organization representing guide dog users in Maryland within the next several months, but MAGDU’s interim board, ably presided over by Charlie Crawford, met recently and voted to form a new GDUI affiliate, which will represent Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia guide dog users. The new affiliate will call itself CAGDU, which stands for Capital Area Guide Dog Users. If you were a member of MAGDU, expect to receive e-mail concerning the new organization, and if you would like to join, please get in touch with Charlie. Just leave a message at GDUI’s toll-free number, 866.799.8436, and Sarah will connect you with Charlie an CAGDU.

Speaking of GDUI affiliates, the next GDUI Affiliates’ teleconference meeting is coming right up. Here’s how GDUI Affiliates’ Liaison, Debbie Grubb, describes the meeting:

“It is now time for us to meet via teleconference in order to set the agenda toward the realization of our mission and goals for the next year. Toward that end, I have invited Charlie Crawford, Chair of the GDUI Advocacy and Legislative Committee and any members of that committee who wish to join us, to participate in a discussion with us regarding our state and local plans in terms of how this committee might assist us to carry them out. Working with us was one of the major agenda items of the GDUI Advocacy and Legislative Committee and it is one that they enthusiastically adopted.

Please place September 22 at 9:00 PM EST on your calendar.  As the time
approaches, I will provide the call in information in a meeting reminder

Congratulations to GDUI Board member, Annie Chiappetta on the publication of her book, called Upwelling. For more information and to purchase Annie’s book, visit this link:

Each year, it’s challenging to write these announcements for September – there’s such a range of emotions rising and all mixed up with one another for each of us. On the one hand, fall is definitely in the air – even though our temperatures were in the high 90s just a day or so ago. Children are catching school buses, butternut squash and brussels sprouts compete with tomatoes and sweet corn for space at the farmers’ markets, the end of the budgetary year is looming for many, meetings and conferences and events pick up in frequency – and this year we have the added drama of the coming elections in November. At the same time, we continue to be concerned about all those who lost everything in Baton Rouge, LA, and there’s news of more hurricanes heading toward the U.S. – from both directions! If you have been affected by a recent natural disaster, please remember that GDUI has a fund to help with disaster-related expenses for your guide dog. The new Chairperson for the GDUI Disaster Assistance and Preparedness Program is Annie Chiappetta. While we’re waiting for our web site to go live once again, you can reach her via Sarah at our toll-free number, 866.799.8436.

I am writing this as September 11, 2016 comes to a close. As this was the fifteenth anniversary of the catastrophes of September 11, 2001, the remembrances have been particularly poignant and sad. So much loss for so many. If you were one who lost a loved one on that terrible day, please know that we have not forgotten either. All of us, no matter how close or how far removed we were from the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA,– lost much that day fifteen years ago. Life was never the same again.

Yet, we continue, memorializing tragic anniversaries year after year, remembering our losses, and longing for the sense of well being and security that all but disappeared fifteen years ago. May we all find comfort and renewed strength within the communities that connect us one to another, and renew our commitment to one another and the ties that reaffirm our humanity and strengthen our hope and desire for peace.


Penny Reeder, President

Guide Dog Users, Inc.

Deanna Noriega, First Vice President

Guide Dog Users, Inc.

Call us, toll-free, at  866.799.8436

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For our members and friends who do not have access to e-mail (or prefer to listen to the pleasant sound of a human voice reading aloud), we also offer telephonic recordings of every announcement. If you are aware of guide dog users who do not have computer access, please share this telephone number with them: 646-653-1900. Recorded announcements available at this number are updated concurrently with each new online announcement.

We look forward to sharing announcements concerning our organization with all who are interested in GDUI.