GDUI Announcement, January 9, 2017

Dear GDUI Members and Friends,

There are just a couple of announcements this week. We want to let you know that the date for our next GDUI Board Meeting has changed. The new meeting date is Saturday, January 28, 2017. We hope you will attend our meeting which will begin at 1:00 p.m. Call 712.432.0075, and dial the Code: 919245-Pound. All GDUI members and friends are welcomed guests at our meeting, and there’s always an opportunity for you to ask questions or share information and comments at the close of each meeting.

Weather-related news reflects the difficulties that so often arise in January for all of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere. Right now there are floods in Northern California and Nevada, blizzard conditions in the Midwest and New England, and snow and sleet and ice all over the South. Remember, if you need help affording care for your working guide dog as a result of an emergency, GDUI’s Disaster Assistance and Preparedness Program (called the DAPP) is here for you. Will Burley chairs the DAPP Committee, and you can call GDUI’s toll-free number to get in contact with Will, 866.799.8436. Also, find information about the DAPP on the home page of our website:

PawTracks is coming! We know you’ve been waiting for the Fall/Winter issue of PawTracks a little longer than usual. An accumulation of unfortunate events has plagued Nolan’s production of this issue, but he is optimistic that he will be sending the magazine’s sound files to Ray Fournier for file conversion to the audiocassette format for those of you who still receive our publication in that medium, and to Dixie Sanderson, who will be sharing the MP3 files via e-mail and attachment, hopefully, by the end of the week end. Remember, if you have an idea or an article or a poem or a letter to the editor to contribute to PawTracks, just send e-mail to Nolan with “PawTracks” in the subject line. He will be pleased to accept your contributions. E-Mail Nolan at: 

Joining GDUI: If you haven’t yet renewed your membership, or if you’ve been thinking about joining us as a much valued new or returning member, now is the perfect time! If you have been struggling with an advocacy issue, or if you could use some advice from experienced guide dog users, GDUI is here for you! Membership dues are only $15, and we welcome participation from guide dog users of all ages and at all stages – whether you’re just wondering if the guide dog lifestyle is one that will work for you, or you’re in the process of applying for your fifth or eighth or tenth guide dog –or you’re at another stage of guide dog partnership altogether, we welcome your membership and your involvement in our community.  There’s strength in numbers, and GDUI’s advocacy is strengthened whenever we grow.  Annual dues are still only $15, and it’s easy to join by calling our Secretary and Office Manager, Sarah Calhoun, at 866.799.8436, or online here: If you are a member of a local GDUI affiliate, you have probably already heard from your leadership about renewing. If not, give your affiliate president or your treasurer a call to make sure you’re included on the membership list!

And, now for Top Dog news!
The conference coordinators asked us to share these two items with all of you who will be winging your way toward Orlando later this week:

A Welcome Letter from the Hotel
Top Dog is almost here!
Event Dates:  Friday, January 13 through Sunday, January 15, 2017.
Event hotel: The Holiday Inn And Suites across from Universal Orlando5905 Kirkman Road,
Orlando, FL 32819
Phone:  (407) 351-3333 or (800) 216-0635

January 8, 2017
Dear Valued Guest,

Thank you for choosing the Fresh, Fun, and Affordable Holiday Inn & Suites Across from Universal Orlando. We are delighted to Host “Top Dog! “Our team looks forward to providing service beyond your expectations. Should you need further assistance, please contact our Guest Service Champions at our Front Desk for assistance by dialing our main number 407-313-3333 then pressing “0”. Our Internet access code for this month is HULK and additional computer usage is available at the Business Center if needed. On the first floor you will find our Laundry and Fitness Center right next to each other, you will need your room key for access. There are detergent machines where you can use quarters to Purchase, and quarters are available at the Front Desk.

We can make a printed internal map of the hotel available as well. The Top Dog Convention will be held completely on the first floor of the hotel. If you are standing in front of the front desk it will be located to your right as you step off from the tiled floor to the carpeted floor. Upon check-in we will punch hole the top left of the room keys so they are ready for you to insert to open your sleeping rooms. We have two (2) Elevator locations for your convenience. TGI Friday’s Restaurant is connected to our hotel just a couple feet to the right away from the arcade. You don’t have to exit the hotel to get to TGI Friday’s Restaurant. We also have a Gift Shop in the lobby where you could purchase gifts and snacks until 9pm.

Once again welcome and please let us know if there is anything we can do to make your stay more comfortable! Warmest regards from our team to you, Holiday Inn & Suites across from Universal Orlando ™ Welcome to Top Dog 2017 from Dixieland Guide Dog Users, Georgia Guide Dog Users and from host chapter, Guide Dog Users of Florida and from your Top Dog 2017 team, Kathleen Trutschel, Registrar, Sue Harden, Exhibits  Coordinator and Debbie Grubb Program Coordinator.

Top Dog 2017 Program:

Thursday, January 12, Registration from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM. The Hospitality Suite (the Penthouse) will be open from 7:00 Pm to 10:00 PM.

Friday, January 13, Registration from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM. As usual, the exhibit hall, located in the Junior Ballroom,  will be open on both Friday and Saturday from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM. The hospitality suite will open at 6:00 AM so visit often. Breakfast will be served from 7:00 AM to 8:15 AM in the Studio Room. The program includes four sessions of CPR training for your guide.  We are delighted to have the First Aid/CPR instructor from Southeastern Guide Dogs, Bonnie Knapp, to bring these sessions to us free of charge.  She will be ably assisted by veterinarian Dr. Amy Long and other volunteers.  The sessions are scheduled from 10:00 AM to 10:50 AM; 11:00 AM to 11:50 AM; 1:00 PM to 1:50 PM; 2:00 PM to 2:50 PM.  All sessions will be held in the E/P/D & Corridor Room.  You’re specific class times will be provided at registration. Lunch will be served in the Studio Room from 12:00 to 1:15 PM. Wayfinding devices are adding to freedom of movement and access to all sorts of information which is greatly enhancing the travel experience for guide dog users.  Jenine Stanley, co-host of ACB Radio’s Main Menu and Consumer Relations Coordinator, Guide Dog Foundation, will be available throughout the day to provide hands on demonstrations of some of the most accessible and versatile of these wayfinding apps and devices.  If you are interested in having time with Jenine to experience a hands on demonstration of these apps and devices, please ask at the registration desk about setting up an appointment with her when you pick up your materials.

If you have ever worried about an airline emergency, please come to the airline emergency preparedness presentation in the E/P/D & Corridor Room scheduled from 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM. Candace Kolander Association of  Flight Attendants,(Afa); Coordinator of the International AFA Air Safety, Health and Security Department,  will bring us Interesting, surprising and crucially important information and insights that are specifically applicable to us as guide dog users.  There will be a time for your questions.

The Friday evening dinner will be served in the Studio Room at 6:00 PM.  Be sure to join us for good food, fellowship and great music provided by Asli Goncer & David & Brenda Hillebrandt and their Band. At the conclusion of the dinner, the hospitality suite will be open for more fun, food and fellowship.


Breakfast will be served in the Studio Room from 7:00 to 8:15 AM. The annual Top Dog Blessing of the Guide Dogs will take place in the Studio Room from 8:30 AM to 9:45 AM under the direction of a very spiritual retired United Methodist Pastor, Janice McLay. The exhibit hall will be open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM in the Junior Ballroom. The hospitality suite opens again at 6:00 AM so visit often.

Flying with Your Guide Dog will take place in the Studio Room from 9:45 AM to 10:45 AM.  This panel presentation will bring to us A Summary of the Effort to Update Air Carrier Access Act Regulations that Affect Accessibility for People with Disabilities who work service dogs and any necessary updates from the Department of Justice. The panelists will discuss how to ensure that your rights are appropriately implemented and discuss your personal responsibilities and present helpful hints about how best to prepare to have the most stress free trip possible for both you and your guide. The panelists are: Becky Davidson, Manager of Consumer Outreach and Graduate Support, Guiding Eyes for the Blind Penny Reeder, President Guide Dog Users, Inc. Jenine Stanley, Consumer Relations Coordinator, Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind Chelsea White, Outreach Specialist The Seeing Eye Moderator, Debbie Grubb, top Dog 2017  Program Coordinator., We  will remain in the Studio Room for the presentation concerning Allergies in Dogs from 10:45 AM to 11:45 AM.  Dawn Logas, DVM, will discuss this medical issue that has become more prevalent with the ever changing environment.  She will describe allergy symptoms and treatment and other important information that you need to know as you work with your veterinarian to combat allergy effects on your dog.

Lunch will be served in the Studio Room from 12:00 PM to 1:15 Pm. Guide Dog School Updates will take place in the Studio Room from 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM.  Representatives from all guide dog schools present will have the opportunity to bring you the latest news on what is taking place at the schools they represent. The Studio Room will also be the location for the presentation on Wayfinding devices from 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM.  a description of some of the most accessible and versatile of these apps and devices will be presented by Jenine Stanley, co-host ACB Radio Main Menu. There will be time for your questions. The Top Dog 2017 Banquet will be served in the Studio Room from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM.  Charlie Crawford, friend and mentor to many throughout his diverse and significant career and throughout his meaningful life will share with us his journeys with the guide dogs who have partnered with him throughout his life as he has grown, changed and triumphed over adversity to remain his best, true and strong self.

Sunday, January 15

Breakfast will be served in the Studio Room from 7:00 to 8:30 AM. As we partake of breakfast, we will once again participate in Guide Dog Tales, the sharing of personal anecdotes and experiences with our guides, moderated by Jenine Stanley, Guide Dog Foundation.  This program depends entirely on you and the stories that you bring to us.

This brings to an end Top Dog 2017.  It is our fervent hope that each one of you will return to your homes very glad that you came, better equipped to live your lives of freedom with your guide dogs and with very special memories that will bring light and joy to your lives.

For the security and well being of all who join us for Top Dog 2017, please understand that no volunteer will enter your sleeping room. Neither the Top Dog 2017 team, volunteers nor staff from the hotel can provide you with a dedicated personal guide nor personal assistance services.  If you require this sort of assistance, you are most welcome to join us and to bring someone with you who is equipped to make available to you the assistance that you require.

Wow, the Top Dog Conference sounds wonderful, doesn’t it! I know that all of you who can attend will thoroughly enjoy yourselves. I have personally been looking forward to Top Dog 2017 ever since my husband and I returned from Top Dog 2015 in Charleston. Unfortunately, I found out a couple of hours ago that Willow and I will not be there after all. I have been struggling with a respiratory infection for a couple of months. I thought I was coping pretty well with the assistance of some new meds, but my doctor does not agree, and she told me this afternoon that I should not fly. I am disappointed (but I’m doing my best to cope with the news like a grown-up!) Willow and I are sending all of you who can attend our best wishes for safe travels and happy reunions!

Thank you all for your friendship and support.


Penny Reeder, President

Guide Dog Users, Inc.

Deanna Noriega, First Vice President

Guide Dog Users, Inc.


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