President’s Message: Summer 2017for GDUI

Penny Reeder

Hello GDUI Members, It was just about a month ago when Willow and I arrived in Reno for our 2017 GDUI convention. Of course, the week flew by, and Willow and I came back home exhausted, but feeling grateful for our convention experiences. Six years ago, the last time our convention was in Reno – at the very same hotel – Willow and I experienced our very first convention together as a new guide dog team. Now that Willow is a seasoned veteran of ACB and GDUI conventions, she can travel around hotel venues with amazing self confidence – avoiding all of those white mobility canes swishing back and forth at just about the level of her head, and wagging her tail happily as we encounter so many other guide dogs and people we have met and come to know and love. Our dogs have such an amazing memory. I know you have experienced evidence of this too, but, still, it always amazes me that Willow seems to remember every person and dog that she’s ever met while we’ve been working together as a team – and nearly all of the locations we have frequented as well. On our first morning back in Reno, Willow guided me to the exact location where she knew I would want to begin my day: To Starbucks for a late` and a cranberry scone! (I guess I’m nothing but predictable! And Willow, like so many of our guide dogs, is nothing but amazing!)

I want to begin this brief summary of our convention by thanking Lillian Scaife and her Programs Committee for planning and coordinating and presenting what was truly one of the best and most interesting GDUI convention programs I’ve ever experienced. Thanks to Jane Woods and Connie Smith, our Louisville Ladies, who ran the suite and helped and shared smiles and hugs with so many guide dog users! Thanks to Carla Campbell whose doggie massages helped so many guide dogs to make it through the extra stress that any convention represents for our dogs. Thanks to Vickie Curley, and Maria Hansen, and Minh Ha and Brianna Murray and Deanna Quietwater Noriega, all GDUI board members who were so helpful in so many ways. Willow and I enjoyed meeting and re-connecting with members of our GDUI family at meetings, traveling through those endless hotel routes from one tower to the next, of course at guide dog relief areas – again, the best we’ve ever experienced! – and at meetings, seminars, luncheons, and Starbucks! It was truly a pleasure to meet and get to know Karen and Sam and Dolly and Flash at their first GDUI convention! We look forward to getting to know you even better during coming months as you join committees, write an article – maybe more! – for PawTracks, and become more involved in GDUI!

If you couldn’t attend this year’s convention in Reno, you can look forward to recordings of our program events, many of which are already available at this link: You will learn how to get exactly the kind of behavior you want from your dog from all the very pertinent information shared by Lukas Franck and Dell Rodman. You’ll learn from Disability Rights Advocacy’s Julia Z. Marks, exactly what to do when a driver from Uber or LYFT refuses to share his or her car with you and your guide dog. You’ll approach veterinary medicine from a new and fascinating perspective when you hear from our luncheon speaker, Beth Williams P.T., G.C.S., M.A., A.P.T., Owner, K9 Wellness Center in Reno, who combines working knowledge about physical therapy with the very practical approach of veterinary care. You’ll learn from dedicated puppy raisers how they actually manage to give up those puppies for service to us – over and over again! You’ll hear updates from guide dog schools representatives and meet Christine Benninger, President and CEO of Guide Dogs for the Blind. It won’t be quite as good an experience for you as being there was for those of us lucky enough to attend the live auction, shop in the GDUI Suite, and serve as members of the jury at the Disability Rights Moot Trial! but you will enjoy listening – and maybe you’ll be inspired, if you begin planning right now, to join us next year in St. Louis, which will be the site for the 2018 ACB and GDUI conventions!

During the ACB General Session, GDUI introduced a resolution urging ACB to work with us, airline representatives, and representatives from the U. S. Department of Transportation to make sure that updates of Air Carrier Access Act regulations improve the kinds of services we experience when traveling by air and through airports with our guide dogs. We are so pleased that our resolution was adopted by the assembled convention, and I am looking forward to working with Tony Stephens, ACB’s Director of Advocacy, Charlie Crawford, GDUI’s Advocacy and Legislative Committee Chair, and others to assure that airlines do a better job of understanding, acknowledging, and assuring our civil rights under the ACAA, as well as other civil rights laws.

Congratulations to all of the ACB leaders who were elected or re-elected to serve as officers and board members. We are proud of our affiliation with the American Council of the Blind , and also grateful to all of you who have joined our organization and renewed your membership, increasing our vote count during ACB convention votes for amendments, resolutions, and elections, to 19.

I hope that we can keep this upward trend in membership growth going! I have to tell you that during the week of convention I talked to many people who were excited about our programs, our organizational advocacy, and the services we provide to our members. Unfortunately, lots of these folks added comments that went something like this: “I’ve been meaning to renew my membership,” or “I’ve been planning to join again … but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.”

If you know guide dog users who are in this ‘meaning-to-join-again’ category, I hope you’ll remind them to join or renew soon! The larger our membership is, the more seriously GDUI will be taken as an advocacy organization!

And, for all of you who are members, please consider joining one of our advisory committees! Contact a committee chair to let them know that you’re interested, and become more involved! GDUI belongs to all of us, and supporting guide dog users and advocating for better recognition and enforcement of our civil rights are in all of our best interest!

GDUI Standing Committees include these advisory committees which can involve any GDUI member who’s interested in serving and making life better for all of us and our guide dogs.

GDUI Advocacy and Legislative Committee
Chair, Charlie Crawford

Bylaws and Resolutions Committee
Chair, Maria Hansen

Disaster Assistance and Preparedness Program Committee
Chair, Will Burley

GDUI Fund-Raising Committee
Chair, Deanna NORIEGA

GDUI Membership Committee
Co-Chairs: Dixie Sanderson and Brianna Murray

GDUI Products Committee
Chair: Maria Hansen

Program Committee
Chair, Lillian Scaife

Public Relations Committee
Co-Chairs: Maria Kristic and Dixie Sanderson

Publications Committee
Chair, Deanna Noriega

Special Concerns Committee
Chair, Brianna Murray

If you want to help with the GDUI Juno Report, contact Nolan Crabb, who puts the excellent half-hour ACB Radio and podcast program together for us each month. You can reach Nolan

And, if you want to contribute articles, letters, poems, or anything else to PawTracks, contact our editor, Will Burley, here:

If you don’t have access to e-mail, contact our Secretary and Office Manager, Sarah Calhoun, at our toll-free number, and Sarah will help you reach committee chairpersons via phone. Call Sarah here: 866.799.8436.

Enjoy the rest of your summer, and thank you for your friendship and support.

ACB Lawsuit Against D.C. Taxi Companies

Guide Dog Users, Inc., a proud special-affiliate of the American Council of the Blind (ACB(, Applauds ACB and others for taking a stand against discrimination, and on behalf of all people who are blind, especially those of us who choose to partner with guide dogs! GDUI stands ready, and eager to support this action in any way, since the issues of access and civil rights brought forward by this law suit provide the context within which most of our members live our daily lives. Bravo, ACB! For more information, visit

Sincerely, Penny Reeder, President Guide Dog Users, Inc.