Volume XLII, No. 2
Editor: Nolan Crabb
Technical Assistant: Jane Sheehan
PawTracks is the quarterly magazine of Guide Dog Users, Inc. (GDUI)
An Affiliate of the American Council of the Blind
Visit GDUI Online at: www.guidedogusersinc.org
Toll-Free: (866) 799-8436
June 9, 2015
Table of Contents
Thoughts from the Editor
Deep in the Hearts of Guide Dogs 2015 Convention Program by Lilian Scaife
Convention Highlights by Lilian Scaife
Keep the Heart of Guide Dogs Clean: Join the Waste Warriors by Jenine M. Stanley
GDUI Representatives Attend TSA Conference in Los Angeles by Robert Acosta
Legislative Committee Update: Service Animals in Health Care Facilities
Thank You by Audrey Gunter
Fundraising Committee Update by Robert Acosta
A Positive Transition by Annie Chiappetta
March 28, 2015 GDUI Board Meeting Minutes by Sarah Calhoun
A Guide Dog Handler Salutes Fellow Advocates and an Airport Policeman by Robert Acosta
Please note that asterisks (*)separate each article Plus signs (+) separate subsections within
Thoughts From the Editor
by Nolan Crabb
This issue of PawTracks marks the end of my first year in this assignment, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have edited and narrated the publication. Those four issues seem to have flown by more rapidly than I could have ever imagined. I’m most grateful to those who contribute information for the publication. Without that help, a rewarding assignment can become joyless drudgery in a heartbeat. My thanks to all of you who have suggested topics of focus for the publication. Those suggestions are guide stars as we put this out each quarter, and they matter.
Since there’s a need to get this out quickly, this is a relatively short issue. Still, it contains information of relevance to those who are planning a trip to Dallas in early July.
So it’s on to year two for me, and the deadline for submissions for the Fall issue is August 14.
Enjoy PawTracks, and keep in touch.
Deep in the Hearts of Guide Dogs 2015 Convention Program
by Lilian Scaife
President: Penny Reeder
Program Chair: Lilian Scaife
GDUI’s Suite hours:
• Sunday July 5, noon to 5 p.m.
• Monday and Tuesday, July 6 and 7, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Wednesday, July 8, 9 a.m. to 12 noon.
Sunday, July 5
8 a.m. — 9 a.m.
GDUI Hotel Orientation
Once you learn your way around the hotel, you and your guide dog will zip through convention crowds and arrive at your destination relaxed and on time! Orientation provided by seasoned guide dog trainers and volunteers who understand the needs of guide dog users and our dogs.
11 a.m. — 12 p.m.
Helping Your Dog Adjust to the stresses of Convention Life
Presenter Becky Barnes Davidson
If this is your first convention or the first in a long time, this is a great way to learn tips for making the chaos of convention a less stressful experience for you and your dog. Presenters will share tips on dealing with all of those long mobility canes slashing back and forth at the level of your dog’s head, coping with the relief areas, finding help when you need it, meeting and greeting people and other dogs, and taking advantage of the respite offered in the GDUI Suite.
12 p.m.: GDUI Suite opens –
Socialize, take a break, and learn all about GDUI’s products from our very own Connie Jacomini. Give your dog the luxury of a 10 to 15 minute tension-relieving and restorative canine massage by Carla Campbell; a professional canine massage therapist for $20, available by appointment and walk-in basis (Sunday through Wednesday). Don’t miss our Silent Auction where you can bid on a multitude of goodies including tech gadgets, digital books, jewelry, and a tasty treat from Penny’s kitchen. You’ll want to try your chances at our raffling of “Dallas,” a beautiful plush black lab winnable through either three raffle tickets for $5 or seven for $10, as well as the GDUI Drawing, where a $10 chance might lead to all manner of prizes, including the grand prize of $1,000, and much more! The GDUI Suite is the place to be!
2 p.m. — 4 p.m.
Affiliate round-up (Location to be announced)
Affiliate representatives should come and introduce themselves to Debbie Grub, GDUI’s Affiliates’ Liaison. to assure that each affiliate’s votes count during the GDUI Caucus and business meeting.
4 p.m. – 5 p.m.
GDUI Board meeting and annual report
President: Penny Reeder
Monday, July 6
6:45 A.M. — 8:15 A.M.
GDUI Breakfast Club (meet in lobby)
The Mad Hatter Café
Treat your dog to a short two-block walk, treat yourself to the best in Southern breakfast fare, visit with GDUI friends and their dog guides.
7:30 A.M. — 8:30 A.M.
GDUI Hotel Orientation
Once you learn your way around the hotel, you and your guide dog will zip through convention crowds and arrive at your destinations relaxed and on time! Orientation provided by seasoned guide dog trainers and volunteers who understand the needs of guide dog users and our dogs.
1:15 p.m. — 5:30 p.m.
GDUI Opening Session
1:15 introductions, and preview of the Convention Program
Self-familiarization to new environments: help your guide dog and yourself become oriented quickly and safely to a new location or unusual situation. Learn the basics from a seasoned trainer!
presenter: David Locklin, Class Coordinator — Leader Dogs for the Blind, Rochester Heights, MI
4:15 p.m. Guide Dog School Updates
What’s going on at the guide dog schools? What changes have they made over the past year, and what are they planning for the future? What are the qualifications that prospective students need to meet? Are there innovations coming, and
what do we need to know about them?
Always a highlight at the GDUI convention, the Guide Dog Schools Round-up lets us hear from the people who know the most about our schools.
7:15 p.m. to 10 p.m. – $15 $17
The Deep in the Hearts of Guide Dogs, Guide Dog Schools Appreciation Reception
As dog guide users, we all know how important our schools’ investments in personnel, breeding and acquisition of dogs, training time, and money are for creating excellent matches for each of us.
We at GDUI want to recognize and thank all of the guide dog schools for the time, energy and dollars they pour into our partnerships. As our way of saying thank you The 2015 GDUI Program Committee is pleased to host our Deep in the Hearts of Guide Dogs, Guide Dog Schools Appreciation Reception. Come and Express your gratitude to the professionals who make it possible for us to achieve greater independence through our partnerships with our guide dogs.
Cash bar and snacks.
Tuesday, July 7
6:45 A.M. — 8:15 A.M.
GDUI Breakfast Club (meet in lobby)
The Mad Hatter Café
Treat your dog to a short two-block walk, treat yourself to the best in Southern breakfast fare, visit with GDUI friends and their dog guides.
Trainers will be available to assist with mobility questions and solve any problems.
1:15 p.m. — 5:30 p.m. GDUI Program
1:15 Past, Present and Future of Guide Dog Harnesses
Did you know that the first guide dog users didn’t even have a handle to hold onto? Learn how harnesses have evolved over time, and what we might expect from the space-age materials of the future.
presenter: Lukas Franck, Senior Consultant, Special Projects, The Seeing Eye, Morristown, NJ
2:45 p.m. Dual Purpose Service Dogs
Sometimes blindness is not the least challenging of our disabilities. Learn about guide dogs who are trained to meet the needs of people with additional disabilities.
presenters: Robert Wendler, Director of Canine Operations, Guide Dogs of the Desert, Palm Springs, CA
Nicole Meadowcroft, President, Custom Canines Service Dog Academy, Madison, WI
Do you know how to prepare yourself and your guide dog for an emergency? What exactly is an emergency preparedness kit? Learn where you and your dog can find shelter if an emergency strikes.
presenter: Landa Phelan, Certified Emergency Preparedness Instructor, Hawaii Association of the Blind, Honolulu, Hawaii
7:15 p.m. — 8:30 p.m.
Guided Massage for the Working Guide: A Hands-On Workshop $6 ($8)
(Limited to 20 participants)
Presenter: Carla Campbell, Professional Canine Massage Therapist, Quadrussage, Menlo Park, CA
Learn & practice simple massage techniques designed to help counteract & reduce long-term impact guide work may have on your dog’s physical & mental well-being. There will also be a brief discussion on guide dog “wear and tear” and suggestions on how to mitigate those effects anywhere and everywhere.
Wednesday, July 8
6:45 a.m. — 8:15 a.m.
GDUI Breakfast Club (meet in lobby)
The Mad Hatter Café
Treat your dog to a short two-block walk; treat yourself to the best in Southern breakfast fare; visit with GDUI friends and their dog guides.
Trainers will be available to assist with mobility questions and solve any problems.
12:15 p.m. — 2:30 p.m.
GDUI Luncheon and Presentation $28 ($30)
Dr. Amanda Florsheim DVM, Dallas TX.
Do you wonder exactly how dogs communicate with each other and how this may impact your guide dog’s interactions with the dogs you meet along your way? During this talk, we will discuss visual, auditory, olfactory, and other ways that dogs communicate with one another. We will also discuss how service dogs may be more limited in these options while working and how this could impact other dogs’ responses to them
Drawing for Dallas and raffle
GDUI Business Meeting and Caucus
4:15 p.m. — 5:30 p.m.
Guided Massage for the Working Guide: A Hands-On Workshop $6 ($8)
(Limited to 20 participants)
Presenter: Carla Campbell, Professional Canine Massage Therapist, Quadrussage, Menlo Park, CA
Learn & practice simple massage techniques designed to help counteract & reduce long-term impact guide work may have on your dog’s physical & mental well-being. There will also be a brief discussion on guide dog wear and tear and suggestions on how to mitigate those effects anywhere and everywhere.
Note: Jenine Stanley has recruited a cadre of dedicated volunteers who will be available all week to answer your questions and assist you with solving doggie pic-up and other relief-area concerns.
We wish to thank our entire dedicated Deep in the Hearts of Guide Dogs team whose members have worked so hard and so cooperatively to make the 2015 convention a success! What a team! Thank you, each of you.
Lilian Scaife, GDUI Convention Program Committee Chair
Guide Dog Users, Inc.
Lilian Scaife, Program Chair
Guide Dog Users, Inc. Deep in the Hearts of Guide Dogs, Convention Committee
This year’s GDUI convention will be jam packed with exciting events and goodies for both dogs and their humans. Participants (members and nonmembers,) and even those of you who can’t attend our convention, will be able to play an important part in many GDUI convention activities, such as the raffling of Dallas, the plush life-size guide dog, GDUI’s Silent Auction, and our guide dog school appreciation Reception.
Dallas – the Plushiest of guide Dogs!
Dallas is a beautiful plush dog with lovely locks of silk-like ebony hair, floppy ears, and a noble stance! More than just a plush toy, Dallas is a tribute to all guide dogs who make the lives of people with visual impairment easier, fun, and above all, safe. He’s GDUI’s grand prize and YOU can try your luck at taking him home with our raffle scheduled for July 8. Please note the winner does not need to be present for the drawing. Dallas will be shipped free of charge to the winner’s address.
To win Dallas, participants may purchase raffle tickets, either three for $5 or seven for $10. Raffle tickets may be purchased now via the GDUI website, http://guidedogusersinc.org/donate/ or by calling Jane Sheehan, GDUI’s office manager, at (866) 799-8436. Simply call and specify the number of tickets you’d like to purchase and whether you prefer to pay by check or PayPal.
If you use PayPal, you’ll receive your ticket numbers via email or postal mail.
Your original tickets will then be placed in the raffling drum. The winner will be contacted immediately after the drawing.
GDUI Annual Silent Auction
You won’t want to miss our silent auction at the GDUI Suite from Sunday, July 5, to Wednesday, July 8 at 11 a.m. where you can bid on a multitude of goodies that include tech gadgets, digital books, dog gear, jewelry, a tasty treat from Penny’s kitchen, and much more. The auction catalog will be emailed and posted on the GDUI website. The catalog will also be available in the GDUI suite in large print and braille, so come by the GDUI suite to pick one up! .
Guide Dog School Reception
GDUI wants to recognize and thank all of the guide dog schools for the passion, dedication, and commitment they pour into creating excellent matches for each of us. Needless to say, these schools are vital to the blind community. As our way of saying thanks, the 2015 GDUI Program Committee is pleased to host our Deep in the Hearts of Guide Dogs Guide Dog Schools Appreciation Reception, which will be held on Monday evening, July 6. To honor our schools and those who will be representing them at our convention, we are preparing a tribute booklet, which will be presented as a keepsake to all those representing our schools who attend, and mailed to all the schools honored by our reception after the event has ended. The tribute booklet provides a tangible way to thank our schools for the guide dogs who mean so much to us. We want to convey from deep in our hearts a respectful regard that resides within the heart of every guide dog partnership.
All of us love our dogs and appreciate the tremendous effort our schools put forward to make it possible for us to receive and work with our guides. You don’t have to be a member of our organization to contribute to the keepsake booklet. We welcome everyone’s participation, even if you are not planning to attend the convention.
Anyone can participate in this special Guide Dog Schools Appreciation Reception as a sponsor of the Deep in the Hearts of Guide Dogs tribute booklet. We are offering three sponsorship levels.
Silver Sponsorship, $10: As a Silver-level sponsor, your name, your dog’s name, and the name of your school will be listed in the tribute booklet.
Gold sponsorship, $25: As a Gold-level sponsor, you can have your name, your dog’s name and the name of your school listed in the booklet. You will also be able to include a brief message of no more than 35 characters.
Platinum sponsorship, $50: As a platinum-level sponsor, you can have your name, your dog’s name and the name of your school prominently listed in the booklet. You will also be able to include a personalized message of no more than 70 characters.
Online: Please visit this link: http://guidedogusersinc.org/donate/, complete the form, and pay by PayPal. PayPal is highly secured, easy, and fast. If you don’t have a PayPal account, no problem. You’ll be prompted to enter a credit card number, and PayPal processes your payment. For more information on PayPal, please follow the link: https://www.paypal.com
By Phone: To pay by credit card via phone; contact the GDUI “office manager” at
Toll-free: (866) 799-8436.
Check: To pay by check via mail, make checks payable to GDUI. Be sure to include a clear print or braille copy of the message you want us to include. Mail to: GDUI, c/o Office Manager, 14311 Astrodome Drive, Silver Spring, Maryland 20906.
The deadline for sharing your information and your chosen level of sponsorship is June 12, 2015.
Sponsorships postmarked later than the deadline date of June 12 cannot be included. Please note that messages should not contain the name(s) of specific individuals associated with your guide dog school. We will do our best to keep the content of your messages as close to the original as possible; however, we reserve the right to make final editorial decisions. Following the convention, a copy of the tribute booklet will be available on the GDUI website and published in PawTracks.
Of course, if you are coming to our convention in Dallas, we hope you’ll be able to come to our reception as well!
and tail wags from Alexa,
Lillian Scaife, GDUI Program Committee Chair email@example.com
Keep the Heart of Guide Dogs Clean:
Join The Waste Warriors!
by Jenine M. Stanley
This year in Dallas, we will try to put a new spin on an old topic. We know you’re tired of hearing about the importance of relieving your dog frequently, cleaning up accidents and all that. The last thing we want to do here in GDUI is to become the Poop police.
This year, we’re trying something a little different to help everyone and their dogs. Call us the Waste Warriors, the Poop Patrol, the Anti-Defecation Squad. We are a group of dedicated people who are here to help.
We are excited that Scoop Masters will once again be providing its amazing clean-up services to maintain our relief areas and catch those embarrassing indoor accidents. Tim and his staff do a marvelous job. This year, the Waste Warriors have his back!
Do you need directions to the closest relief area? Did your dog just have an accident and you don’t have a bag? Would you like to learn to clean up but are too embarrassed to ask anyone? Ask us; tell us; Come join us!
What does it take to be a Waste Warrior? A willingness to help without judging,the ability to explain things like directions and clean up procedures and a good sense of humor will all help. the biggest asset though is wearing clothing with lots of pockets for those baggies and a big old bottle of hand sanitizer.
We are assured that the relief areas at the hotel are strategically placed and as I write this we are working on directions for relief areas at both major Dallas airports.
What else might you do as a Waste Warrior?
You might give up an early morning, 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. to stand at or just outside of one of the relief areas to greet people and offer assistance. Relief area ambassadors are also needed at the other busy times of day such as 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. and onward.
We can’t promise that we’ll have Waste Warriors available at all of those times but if we all pitch in and help, we can certainly try. If you feel comfortable cleaning up after your own dog and want to help others, just spend a few extra minutes around the relief areas. Ask people how things are going and if they need any help.
We will not clean up for people. If you are physically unable to clean up after your dog, please let us know and we will work with you to find ways to take care of things.
Waste Warriors aren’t just about the hard stuff either. We’re here for all kinds of support too. Do you have a new dog whose never been to a convention and flat out refuses to use the public canine toilets? Has your dog had an accident indoors? Is your dog sick or showing signs of stress–the kind that makes it hard to clean up? We may not have a quick cure but we can provide a listening ear and reassuring shoulder for you. Most of us have been there and know the embarrassment, frustration and anxiety that can surround relieving your dog at conventions.
Would you like to be a Waste Warrior? Want to talk about how to help people at convention? Send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me once in Dallas. We want to keep the Waste Warriors a non-structured group who are ready to lend a hand and a baggie to anyone, any time.
GDUI Representatives Attend Transportation Security Administration Conference in Los Angeles
by Robert Acosta
Let me begin this article by presenting you with a very important phone number to call if you have any concerns regarding airline travel. This number is (855) 787-2227. This is the number for TSA Cares.
Ken Metz and I were truly honored to be asked by President Penny Reeder to attend a TSA outreach conference at the Los Angeles International Airport on Friday May 1.
Numerous representatives of disability organizations were also in attendance. Bear in mind that TSA only deals with the screening process as we go through security at airports.
Calling TSA Cares which was the number I gave above can solve many problems.
If you need assistance from a Passenger Support Specialist, you must call at least 72 hours prior to your flight. This support specialist will escort you to the gate. You can also request the standard meet and assistance by calling the number above.
It is possible to get on the pre-check list by calling TSA Cares. The Pre-check list allows your departure or arrival to be expedited.
Filing complaints can also begin by calling this number. If you have a complaint, please file it right after the incident so that a proper investigation of the unfortunate situation can readily occur.
Those of us who were blind urged the TSA representatives to advise their screeners not to take our braille Notetakers apart and also not to try to take our guide dogs away to be searched.
Unfortunately, their brochures and such were not produced in braille. Again, I would call TSA Cares to try to get my hands on braille materials.
I was frankly surprised to learn that TSA claims it gets few complaints when too often, the screening process is a favorite subject at parties.
TSA will be holding outreach conferences at airports throughout the United States. Guide Dog Users, Inc., must be ever vigilant and try to have representatives cover these conferences.
Legislative Committee Update
Service Animals in health Care Facilities
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) follows the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the use of service animals in hospital settings. An excerpt of these guidelines is provided Below. (Please note that the definition of a service animal mentioned in the guidelines is out of date. In 2010, the DOJ revised its definition of a service animal to include dogs only, and in some instances, miniature horses).
3. Service Animals Although this section provides an overview about service animals in health-care settings, it cannot address every situation or question that may arise (see Appendix E – Information Resources). A service animal is any animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. (1366, 1376) A service animal is not considered a pet but rather an animal trained to provide assistance to a person because of a disability. Title III of the “Americans with Disabilities Act” (ADA) of 1990 mandates that persons with disabilities accompanied by service animals be allowed access with their service animals into places of public accommodation, including restaurants, public transportation, schools, and health-care facilities. (1366, 1376) In health-care facilities, a person with a disability requiring a service animal may be an employee, a visitor, or a patient. An overview of the subject of service animals and their presence in health-care facilities has been published. (1366) No evidence suggests that animals pose a more significant risk of transmitting infection than people; therefore, service animals should not be excluded from such areas, unless an individual patient’s situation or a particular animal poses greater risk that cannot be mitigated through reasonable measures. If health-care personnel, visitors, and patients are permitted to enter care areas (e.g., inpatient rooms, some ICUs, and public areas) without taking additional precautions to prevent transmission of infectious agents (e.g., donning gloves, gowns, or masks), a clean, healthy, well behaved service animal should be allowed access with its handler. (1366) Similarly, if immunocompromised patients are able to receive visitors without using protective garments or equipment, an exclusion of service animals from this area would not be justified. (1366)
Because health-care facilities are covered by the ADA or the Rehabilitation Act, a person with a disability may be accompanied by a service animal within the facility unless the animal’s presence or behavior creates a fundamental alteration in the nature of a facility’s services in a particular area or a direct threat to other persons in a particular area. (1366) A “direct threat” is defined as a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be mitigated or eliminated by modifying policies, practices, or procedures. (1376) The determination that a service animal poses a direct threat in any particular healthcare setting must be based on an individualized assessment of the service animal, the patient, and the health-care situation. When evaluating risk in such situations, health-care personnel should consider the nature of the risk (including duration and severity); the probability that injury will occur; and whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures will mitigate the risk (J. Wodatch, U.S. Department of Justice, 2000). The person with a disability should contribute to the risk-assessment process as part of a pre-procedure health-care provider/patient conference. Excluding a service animal from an OR or similar special care areas (e.g., burn units, some ICUs, PE units, and any other area containing equipment critical for life support) is appropriate if these areas are considered to have “restricted access” with regards to the general public. General infection control measures that dictate such limited access include:
a) the area is required to meet environmental criteria to minimize the risk of disease transmission;
b) strict attention to hand hygiene and absence of dermatologic conditions; and
c) barrier protective measures [e.g., using gloves, wearing gowns and masks] are indicated for persons in the affected space. No infection-control measures regarding the use of barrier precautions could be reasonably imposed on the service animal.
Excluding a service animal that becomes threatening because of a perceived danger to its handler during treatment also is appropriate; however, exclusion of such an animal must be based on the actual behavior of the particular animal, not on speculation about how the animal might behave.
Another issue regarding service animals is whether to permit persons with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals during all phases of their stay in
the health-care facility. Healthcare personnel should discuss all aspects of anticipatory care with the patient who uses a service animal. Health-care personnel may not exclude a service animal because health-care staff may be able to perform the same services that the service animal does (e.g., retrieving dropped items and guiding an otherwise ambulatory person to the restroom). Similarly, health-care personnel can not exclude service
animals because the health-care staff perceive a lack of need for the service animal during the person’s stay in the health-care facility. A person with a disability is entitled to independent access (i.e., to be accompanied by a service animal unless the animal poses a direct threat or a fundamental alteration in the nature of services); “need” for the animal is not a valid factor in either analysis. For some forms of care (e.g., ambulation as physical therapy following total hip replacement or knee replacement), the service animal should not be used in place of a credentialed health-care worker who directly provides therapy. However, service animals need not be restricted from being in the presence of its handler during this time; in addition, rehabilitation and discharge planning should incorporate the patient’s future use of the animal. The health-care personnel and the patient with a disability should discuss both the possible need for the service animal to be separated from its handler for a period of time during nonemergency care and an alternate plan of care for the service animal in the event the patient is unable or unwilling to provide that care. This plan might include family members taking the animal out of the facility several times a day for exercise and elimination, the animal staying with relatives, or boarding off-site. Care of the service animal, however, remains the obligation of the person with the disability, not the health-care staff.
Although animals potentially carry zoonotic pathogens transmissible to man, the risk is minimal with a healthy, clean, vaccinated, well-behaved, and well-trained service animal, the most common of which are dogs and cats. No reports have been published regarding infectious disease that affects humans originating in service dogs. Standard cleaning procedures are sufficient following occupation of an area by a service animal. (1366) Clean-up of spills of animal urine, feces, or other body substances can be accomplished with blood/body substance procedures outlined in the Environmental Services section of this guideline. No special bathing procedures are required prior to a service animal accompanying its handler into a health-care facility.
Providing access to exotic animals (e.g., reptiles and non-human primates) that are used as service animals is problematic. Concerns about these animals are discussed in two published reviews. (1331, 1366) Because some of these animals exhibit high-risk behaviors that may increase the potential for zoonotic disease transmission (e.g., herpes B infection), providing health-care facility access to nonhuman primates used as service animals is discouraged, especially if these animals might come into contact with the general public. (1361, 1362)
Health-care administrators should consult the Americans with Disabilities Act for guidance when developing policies about service animals in their facilities. (1366) Requiring documentation for access of a service animal to an area generally accessible to the public would impose a burden on a person with a disability. When health-care workers are not certain that an animal is a service animal, they may ask the person who has the animal if it is a service animal required because of a disability; however, no certification or other documentation of service animal status can be required. (1377)
by Audrey Gunter
The silence now enveloping the hotel is almost deafening. The somberness of the lobby is more like that of a funeral home than that of the laughter-filled, dog-jammed, crowded hotel where fun-loving folks of all ages and their helpful furry guides gathered with joy and enthusiasm.
The staff stands there teary-eyed, fondly remembering the group they’d come to know so well in such a short amount of time. The housekeeping staff has already begun to vacuum the mounds of dog hair and crumbs unknowingly left there by their two- and four-legged guests.
Top Dog-Charleston is now history–a memory–but what a memory it was!
Some arrived as early as seven days prior to our opening ceremonies to escape from the bone-chilling temperatures of their home states and, of course to live, taste, hear, touch and breathe Charleston. Most planned to take advantage of our great prices and better climates by extending their stays for at least three additional days.
They came from everywhere–California, Washington, Texas, Colorado, Minnesota, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Massachusetts, and many other states. Total strangers when they arrived became close forever friends when they departed. Folks who had experienced valid differences of opinions in the past put those issues aside and were soon hugging each other in the hallways!
Some would say the catalyst was the charm and spirit of our “Holy City” but I believe it was simply God continuing to offer His blessings to us, through us and among us.
The journey began almost two years prior with a handful of Dixie Landers and a limitless number of ideas.
They worked together to find just the right venue–the right programs–the right caterer and the right entertainment.
GDUI had been badly fractured and no one knew whether anyone would even attend Top Dog, but they continued on with their search, solely depending on God’s divine guidance. They’d learned long ago that God is, indeed a gentleman. If invited, He’ll always attend and bring His bountiful blessings. If left out, He stands silently by as a spectator, and reserves those many blessings.
They remained faithful and obedient, inviting any and everyone who wanted to attend. No one was omitted.
Their objective was to make everyone feel wanted, welcomed, and loved and they began with their initial invitation.
At first a few began to respond; then more and then, even more. Soon, within two months, over 50 had been registered.
Friday morning’s events started with Dixie Land’s very own Brianna Murray and Kimberly Taylor presenting our “Paws 4 Technology”.
Soon Janet Ingber joined in to bring everyone up to date on the use of the IPhone and IPad.
Before the Opening Ceremonies began on Friday night, 154 people had registered-94 blind, 81 with guide dogs; 19 vendors; 9 guide dog schools; umpteen puppy raisers and dozens of loving, supportive friends and/or spouses.
That meeting room was crowded more than ever. People were elbow to elbow and furries tail to snout!
The mumbling roar became silent as Laurel Jean and Audrey offered their official welcome! Pastor Ed Grant officially started our event with a heartfelt prayer of invocation.
When Laurel Jean began to sing that song “The Blessing of Your Love,” written specifically to speak of the love between handler and guide, loving tears began to flow.
Bob Acosta then read a brief history of our flag and the brave veterans from the American Legion, troop 179 proudly marched in to present the colors.
Debbie Grubb then stood to draw a correlation between the various Bugle Calls and the many stages of life for a guide dog team.
Our national GDUI president, Penny Reeder rose to update us all on the latest development of that organization we knew and loved.
Over 10 people and/or organizations were recognized for their generosity and support before a brief intermission was called and our delicious Frogmore Stew was served! Soon lips were smacking and folks were laughing as they attacked the mountains of fried chicken and shrimp on their plates.
Because our guests had completely occupied all of the rooms at the Comfort Inn and Suites, West Ashley, we were given a little more latitude so we grabbed the tables and chairs from the breakfast area and converted the entire lobby into a swanky restaurant.
When all had eaten as much as they could and their dogs relieved, they retired to their rooms for a much-needed rest in order to prepare for the next day.
Saturday began with Pastors Bonnie Miller and Deb Trevino officiating at our Christian ceremony, “The Blessing”. They each offered a prayer prior to Laurel Jean’s tribute to those guides that had retired recently.
Afterwards, Laurel initiated a special audible candle lighting salute to those guides that had crossed “Rainbow Bridge.” As she called the name of each of our heroes, a lone chime would ring to honor their memories.
A prayer station with two empty, upside down harnesses and an upside down food bowl was prepared for folks to visit and remember.
The ministers assigned at that station were so moved by those who visited that prayer station that they, themselves needed consoling. They’d never experienced a love between human and animal like that illustrated before them that day.
Marshall and Michael from Sun Dog Cat Moon talked with us about emergency first aid supplies and the benefit of massage therapy for our guides.
Afterwards we heard from the many puppy raisers in attendance! I think as handlers, we were all surprised to find out that these heroes who have given us our angels actually admire and respect us as much as we admire and respect them!
Following the tears and cheers from and by our puppy raisers and guests, we all took a break to enjoy our scrumptious boxed lunches. Mind you, while all of this was taking place our exhibit hall was buzzing with visitors upstairs and our motorcyclists were rounding up their next victims…I mean riders.
After lunch, Penny Reeder brought us all up to date on GDUI–the hurdles and obstacles already conquered and those remaining to overcome.
Becky Barnes Davidson and Dr. Deni Elliott spoke about the various airports that offer relief areas within their security zones.
Next, they ramrodded us on that especially touchy topic of fake service dogs and how they affect legitimate handlers.
Both ladies offered an extremely informative, invaluable view into the problem and various diverse and even unpopular at times resolutions. Many guests shared personal insight regarding the issue. The discussion became heated at times, but that was simply because of the passion felt towards the subject.
Our last scheduled discussion, “Pup dates from the Guide Dog Schools” was quite informative and uplifting. Representatives from Fidelco, Freedom Dogs for the Blind, Gallant Heart, Guide Dog Foundation, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Leader Dogs for the Blind, The Seeing Eye, and Southeastern Guide Dogs did a great job in bringing us up to date on their latest endeavors.
Following their remarks, school representatives met outside to erect and oversee a great obstacle course that only the brave and confident would embark upon.
There were many participants in the course, too–all with chests puffed out and “I knew we could” smiles on their faces.
Saturday evening ended with another lip-smacking, tongue-titillating lowcountry cuisine straight from Jaimie’s smoking barbecue pots! Yum! Yum! I can still taste that good ol’ slap-your-mama-good chicken and pork, perfectly seasoned and lovingly prepared!
Our event closed with the hand-clapping, finger-snapping, foot-tapping music of Ann Caldwell and the Magnolia Singers melodically transporting us through history to a much different, simpler–yet not-so-much nicer time. Everyone there enjoyed her “Gullah-Geechie” from another era and culture.
Sunday morning began early with folks leaving for their red-eye flights back home. The majority of our guests were checked out and gone by noon, leaving just a handful to reminisce about Top Dog-Charleston and plan for Top Dog-Orlando!
Recently we heard from at least one guide dog school that they had received at least six applications from first time handlers. One of those said that Top Dog-Charleston was a “life changing” experience for him. He’d learned that he was not alone and there were many others who had already walked down that path he was on.
By all accounts, our event was extremely successful, thanks to everyone in attendance and, especially to God!
We’d also like to offer a special note of thanks to all of our many wonderful volunteers and the management and staff of the Comfort Inn and Suites, West Ashley. They went way out of their way to accommodate each of us, but there were two ladies in particular who sacrificed their day off to return just to assist us with our breakfasts! Thank you, Miss Angela and Miss Cynthia!
So, Top Dog-Charleston is now history, and we all look forward to hearing more from Debbie and Kathleen as Guide Dog Users of Florida begin to plan and prepare for Top Dog-Orlando in 2017! See you all there!
Fundraising Committee Update
The fundraising committee has been very active throughout the month of May. At the top of our agenda is our efforts to have a successful summer drawing on behalf of Guide Dog Users, Inc. At present, we are fast approaching $2,000 in donations for this Drawing. The winners will be announced at the Luncheon of our National Convention to be held on Wednesday, July 8, in Dallas, Texas. The final collection of drawing donations will conclude on Tuesday, July 7, at 5 p.m. central time.
Our prizes are as follows:
1. $1,000 in cash donated by Helping Hands for the Blind
2. A $500 gift certificate donated by Helping Hands for the Blind
3. A $500 Silpada Jewelry gift card
4. A Keurig coffee maker
5. A George Foreman grill with removable plates donated by Robert Acosta
6. A Skywave Radio donated by the C. Crane Company
7. A lovely chiming clock, which plays 12 songs, donated by Speak to Me, Denise Russell, (800) 248-9965, Extension 104
8. A Bose Wave Radio donated by Robert Acosta
9. A Gift Basket containing beachwear and a $500 gift certificate for a cruise to be taken within one year donated by Travel One
The tickets are $10 per chance and donors can call Jane Sheehan, our office manager at (866) 799-8436. Winners need not be present.
Our Committee is also investigating the possibility of holding a Spring 2016 Radio Auction, using the facilities of ACB Radio. In our investigation, we have learned that ACB Radio will charge our affiliate $100 to use one of the stations for such an auction. Prizes will come hopefully from our affiliates, members and friends. We thank Marlaina Lieberg and Larry Turnbull for their guidance in this venture. When we have gathered all of the necessary facts involved with such an auction, we shall present this to the board of directors for its advice and hopefully its approval.
Another important matter on the agenda of the fundraising committee is to gather sponsors for our 2016 GDUI National Convention. Again, we are gathering the facts in order to present a complete report to the board of directors for its advice and hopefully its approval.
The chair of the fundraising committee is very honored to be invited to speak to affiliate presidents and other leaders on Thursday, May 21.
Finally, may I conclude this Report by thanking the members of the board of directors for all of your assistance to the fundraising committee. I would also like to thank our hard-working committee members on the fundraising committee for their great ideas and support.
Robert Acosta, chair
Fundraising committee, Guide Dog Users, Inc.
A Positive Transition, Mostly
By Annie Chiappetta
In a previous issue of PawTracks I wrote about my retired guide, Verona. At the time, she was on a light work schedule and ready to hang up the harness. Once the new year passed, I let her work one more time while traveling to California. She did wonderfully, but I knew by the end of the trip that she was done. I am ashamed to admit this but the last few days we were in California she seemed tired; she stumbled a lot and acted confused about tasks that she had performed many times before the trip. I made her keep going, and now I feel guilty that I pressured her into it. I know, I shouldn’t beat myself up; after all, one might say that it would have been more upsetting for her if I just left for two weeks. She might have felt abandoned or even more confused. Thinking about it now, I don’t think I’d go back and change anything. Yet, there is that twinge when I remember how she stumbled, got confused in the airport bathroom, and kept making mistakes. I am still wondering if I asked too much of her at the time.
Moving on, I am glad to report Verona is now a very happy retired lady. She loves sleeping late, getting a few more snacks, and taking walks with my daughter and hanging out with my husband when he goes upstate for r & r.
My transition to the new guide is still a work in progress. I left for Guiding Eyes in March. I was in the action program for returning graduates–10 days in class and five days of follow-up in my home environment. Since I am a local graduate, it was even better because White Plains is where I work and I felt like I was getting home training instead.
Unfortunately, I contracted viral pneumonia and on March 17, I returned home without my new dog. Then, after recovering which meant losing an entire 10 days, I reunited with him. An instructor finished up with me, allowing me to take my time because I was still weak and my stamina was still compromised. I am now happy to report I am back at the gym, working on getting better. I now am matched up with a 70-pound yellow lab named Bailey. He is very goofy and a good guide, even if he loves air-scenting and watching the birds a little bit too often. He and Verona get along great and his place in this crazy, dog friendly home is settled. Even my rescue dog, Nikka, who has big dog fear, plays with him. I was shocked when my daughter told me she was play bowing and licking his face.
Now, if I could only figure out a way to keep all his blond hair off my clothes, it would be perfect.
GDUI Board Meeting Minutes
March 28, 2015
Penny Reeder, President; Will Burley, First Vice President; Maria Hansen, Second Vice President; Sarah Calhoun, Secretary and Lynn Merrill, Treasurer.
Bob Acosta, Vickie Curley, Dixie Sanderson and Jane Sheehan
Nolan Crabb, PawTracks Editor
Pat Hill, Guide Dog School Liaison
Pat Sheehan, ACB Liaison
Excused absence: Ann Chiappetta, Director; Betsy Grenevitch, Director and Debbie Grubb, Affiliate Liaison.
Unexcused absence: Laurie Mehta, Immediate Past President.
The meeting was opened by President Penny Reeder with welcoming remarks.
The roll call was taken by Sarah Calhoun, Secretary.
The board approved the meeting agenda.
Agenda item: Approval of minutes.
A motion was made by Sarah Calhoun to approve the January 24, 2015 GDUI Board meeting minutes. The motion was seconded by Vickie Curley. Prior to voting by acclamation, discussion took place. Motion carried.
A motion was made by Sarah Calhoun to approve the March 6, 2015 GDUI special board meeting minutes. The motion was seconded by Dixie Sanderson. Prior to voting by acclamation, discussion took place. Motion carried.
Agenda item: Approval of all board and committee reports.
A motion was made by Bob Acosta to approve the board and committee reports. They were submitted to the board prior to the meeting. The motion was seconded by Vickie Curley. Prior to voting by acclamation, discussion took place. Motion carried.
All board and committee reports are attached at the end of these minutes.
Agenda item: Grant Opportunities for GDUI.
A motion was made by Bob Acosta for GDUI to appropriate $1,000.00 to utilize the services of Joe Stagerwalt, who is a grant writer for ACB, to pursue up to five grants during the course of the next year. Each grant will be approved by the board. The Budget & Finance Committee along with the Fundraising Committee will work together to establish benchmarks for success and priorities.
The motion was seconded by Vickie Curley. Prior to voting by roll call, discussion took place. Motion unanimously passed.
Agenda item: Funding ads in ACB Convention newspaper.
The board recommends for all GDUI ads to be published in the ACB Convention newsletter, to be first reviewed by the Publications Committee. After review, the Publications Committee will send the ads to the Program Committee, who then will submit them to the ACB Convention press room for publication. The deadline for ad submission is June 1, 2015.
President Reeder will post to the board the various ad packages and cost made available by ACB.
Michael Malver will recruit members to help with Tweeting information during the convention.
Agenda item: New list addresses.
Will Burley explained how GDUI’s new voting system, Vote Now, will work for the upcoming election and proposed Bylaws.
After the record date of April 3, 2015, Jane Sheehan will Email the membership list to Will Burley. He will forward the list to Vote Now. Vote Now will Email all members their new identification number and instructions on how to vote either by telephone or on the web site. Members who don’t use a computer will receive a letter from Vote Now with their new identification number and voting instructions.
The final draft of the proposed Bylaws and candidate information will be emailed to Will Burley; he then will forward to Vote Now for them to be set up for our voting event. All voting information will be reviewed and tested prior to the commencement of voting.
Agenda item: Outline of voting information regarding Record Date, Dates of Forums and Voting Procedures, by Sarah Calhoun.
April 3, 2015 is the established record date. On April 4th, Jane Sheehan will Email Will Burley the membership list and Maria Hansen the total number of members. Maria will complete the cover letter and send it to Jane Sheehan. Jane will make copies of the cover letter, proposed Bylaws and candidate information to mail via USPS to all members who don’t use a computer. On April 9th or 10th, Jane will Email the same information to members who use a computer. All members are to be notified by April 10, 2015.
The voting will begin on Saturday, May 30, 2015 beginning at 12:00 a.m. EDT, and will close on Sunday, June 7, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.
A motion was made by Sarah Calhoun to hold the two Bylaws and candidate forums on Saturday, April 25, 2015 beginning at 1:00 p.m. EDT. The second forum will be held on Friday, May 8, 2015 beginning at 7:00 p.m. EDT.
The motion was seconded by Lynn Merrill. Prior to voting by acclamation, discussion took place. Motion carried.
Prior to the beginning of the voting process, a recording of the proposed Bylaws and candidate information will be made available for members to access via telephone, Drop Box and Send Space.
The board discussed the secretary needing to certify the voting results.
Maria Hansen explained, our current constitution doesn’t mention anything about certifying the voting results. In the DC Code it looks like our voting company, Vote Now, can certify the results.
Agenda item: Old business.
Jane Sheehan asked if our web master has received her request to fix a few fields on the membership list and a spelling error. Will Burley said he has received her message and the problems will be addressed.
School survey update:
Dixie Sanderson sent 19 guide dog school surveys and has received back eight completed surveys. She will contact the remaining schools to encourage them to complete the survey and send it in to GDUI.
Agenda item: President Reeder explained the current situation between California state board of guide dog for the Blind and The Seeing Eye.
GDUI, along with Guide Dog Users of California and National Guide Dog Users of California will write a letter supporting the actions taken by The Seeing Eye against the California State Board of Guide Dog for the Blind.
Sarah Calhoun, GDUI Secretary
The board and committee reports are listed in alphabetical order and separated with asterisks.
Advocacy Committee Report
Becky Barnes Davidson, Chair
We are pleased to have merged the advocacy and legislative committee pages on the GDUI web site.
This provides a convenient and easy-to-use resource for all. Thanks to Will Burley for the help!
Though we dodged a bullet in Arizona with that bill denying access, we have another bill in Maine that directly affects our rights in housing. Thanks to President Penny Reeder for her strong testimony against this bill. The Advocacy committee stands strong and ready to assist in any way we can.
Speaking of housing, a call came to me from a man who lives in a large co-op complex in Queens, New York. The complex management has instituted a $50.00 per year fee for all service dogs supposedly to assist with the cost of extra cleaning required because of the presence of the dogs. The complex has something like 23 large apartment buildings and there are only 18 service dogs in residence which represents less than 1 percent of the population of the complex. We are working on that with the DOJ housing division and also New York City. To Date I have not received a final outcome. Co-ops seem to think they are above the law. I know because I live in a co-op complex, which is, fortunately, much smaller.
We still hear occasional reports of Uber drivers refusing rides to people with guide dogs. Supposedly Uber has a no-tolerance policy on refusal of rides to people with service dogs.
The process of determining rights of access to Bed-and-breakfast establishments, particularly as it applies to AirBandB, is ongoing.
We continue to monitor activity on the misrepresentation of service dog’s issue. There was excellent discussion of this issue at the Top Dog conference in January and it is important that constructive discussion continue as we work toward solutions that can solve the problems without negatively affecting our civil rights as guide dog handlers.
I just discovered a new IPHONE app this morning called icitizen. It will tell you who your state and federal representatives are as well as provide information on issues, voting records, etc. I am still playing with it but it may turn out to be quite useful for both advocacy and legislative work. Of course the possibility exists that I’m late to the game and others have already been using this app, but it, along with the NAGDU app with all the state and federal laws on it are great tools.
March 24, 2015.
Affiliates Liaison Report
The GDUI Affiliates continue to build a sense of community and collaboration. Over the next several months our work together will stress fund raising, meaningful work with state legislatures and membership growth and retention. Our meetings will have guest presenters with expertise in all of these essential areas.
Because of a small personal emergency at my house, the affiliates did not meet during our regularly scheduled time in March. I decided not to hold the meeting at that time as I did not have the time to carry out proper preparation. I always want affiliate leaders to come away from our meetings feeling that they have both learned and contributed and that the meetings have been worth their while. After polling the affiliate leaders, the decision of the majority will be honored which means that we will next hold a telephonic meeting during the third Thursday in May, our next regularly scheduled meeting time.
As the Convention draws closer, I will be gathering information from each affiliate regarding whether or not they will have representation at the event and who will be taking on that role.
I am gratified to report that we are walking a sure and true path together.
GDUI Affiliate Liaison
Budget & Finance Committee
Committee members: Penny, Will, Maria, Sarah, Lynn and Jane
Under Sarah’s guidance, our budget was prepared, presented to and approved by the Board.
Chair, Budget & Finance Committee
Constitution & Bylaws Committee
Committee members: John McCann, Lynn Merrill, Ellen Telker, Rick Roderick, Penny Reeder
The Constitution and Bylaws Committee submitted the draft Bylaws to the Board for review and now the membership has an opportunity to comment via the Bylaws list.
We have worked hard to create a document that complies with and meets the requirements of the DC Nonprofit Code while also addressing concerns that the membership had with the documents that were presented last year. To that end, these Bylaws retain the Affiliates Liaison, the Guide Dog School Liaison and Editor of our publications as Board positions, Keep the Director seats at six, reduce obstacles to member participation, do not focus on expelling members, acknowledge our relationship with ACB and our affiliates and refer to Roberts Rules of Order.
In cooperation with the Nominating Committee, we will hold a joint election to vote on the proposed Bylaws as well as the two Board positions. Sarah and I have set a record date of April 3 and the election will be held from May 30 through June 7.
Chair, Constitution and Bylaws Committee
Disaster Assistance & Preparedness Program Report
Committee members: Bob Acosta; Ann Chiappetta; Sarah Calhoun, chair; Lynn Merrill; Ken Metz & Dixie Sanderson.
Guest: Landa Phelan
The Disaster Assistance & Preparedness Program (DAPP) Committee met in February 2015 via telephone conference. We were honored to have Landa Phelan from Hawaii as our guest speaker.
Landa will be giving a presentation during the GDUI events at the ACB 2015 Convention explaining how to prepare for an emergency for you and your guide dog. Landa is quite educated and experienced in teaching others how to prepare and build your own survival kit to be ready for an unfortunate catastrophe.
If you have the opportunity to meet Landa during the convention, be sure to say, “Aloha!”
Posted on the GDUI web site, the DAPP team has compiled emergency information and documents you can print and complete to give you and your guide dog a better opportunity to survive an unfortunate event. There are suggestions and tips on helping you assemble a survival kit for you and your guide dog.
The DAPP team continues to work on compiling a list of areas you can organize prior to an emergency such as: locating the nearest shelter, medical hospitals or facilities address and phone numbers, contact information of family and friends, along with many other helpful tips. This list will be available on the GDUI web site.
Sarah Calhoun, chair
Editor’s report – PawTracks
The spring PawTracks issue should be available to the GDUI office by April 4. The summer issue deadline is May 15, and that will be really firm unless contributors have a super-compelling reason for being later.
Fund-Raising Committee Report
March 28, 2015
Before I present our report on the numerous activities of the GDUI Fund-Raising Committee, I must tell you how disappointed we all are with the cancellation of our December Cruise by Dave Kronk. Yes, the bookings were not moving along very well with only three cabins reserved, but we had great future plans for publicity on this cruise which would have brought in needed funds to GDUI and would have been an opportunity for those attendees to have a wonderful time in the Caribbean. Rest assured that we will be making plans for another cruise with a different Travel Agency.
On March 12, I represented the Fund-Raising Committee at a meeting with the ACB Grant Writer, Jo Steigerwald. Also present at the meeting were Maria Hansen, Lynn Merrill and Ken Metz. We presented our wish list to Jo. At present, she is researching those Foundations which she feels will be of assistance to us. She has also sent us some tips for seeking grants. Under an agreement between Jo and the ACB, she will provide some free time to do some research on foundations for us.
Our Wish List is as follows:
1. A grant for the underwriting of telephonic and online voting for our membership
2. A grant to purchase needed software to assist our Finance Committee with the management of our funds
3. A grant to bring first timers to the GDUI National Conventions
I personally added a fourth item:
4. A grant to underwrite our National GDUI Conventions
We shall discuss grants and the direction we wish to take at our Board meeting. We shall take this one step at a time.
The Fund-Raising Committee is currently exploring the possibility of holding an auction using ACB Radio early next year. We are currently gathering the needed facts to present to the Board. I can state that Larry Turnbull and Marlaina Lieberg have been very helpful. Marlaina wrote to tell me that such an auction can be handled by ACB Radio using the World Events Station. The cost for this is only $100.
We also have been exploring the possibility of using a Mailing Company to distribute our donor letters. At present, we find their charges too expensive, but we shall keep looking for a company.
Finally, the Summer Drawing is moving along nicely. We are nearing the $1,200 figure. The winners will be announced at the luncheon of the GDUI Convention on July 8, 2015. Friends and members of GDUI can feel free to call Jane Sheehan at (Home) (301) 598-2131 if you have unlimited long distance and our toll-free number is (866) 799-8436. For the purchase of a $10 ticket, you can win $1,000 and other fine prizes.
In conclusion, I wish to state on behalf of our committee that this business of raising funds does have its bumps and bruises. However, we are undaunted in our efforts to raise the needed funds for GDUI in order to assure that our wonderful members can rely on GDUI to help them live a quality life.
Respectfully Submitted by,
Robert Acosta, Chair
Guide Dog School Liaison Survey Update
The 2015 GDUI Guide Dog School Survey was compiled and sent to the following schools:
Custom Canines Service Dog Academy
Eye of the Pacific Guide Dogs and Mobility Services, Incorporated
Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation
Freedom Guide Dogs
Gallant Hearts Guide Dog Center
Guide Dogs for the Blind
Guide Dogs of America
Guide Dogs of Texas, Incorporated
Guide Dogs of the Desert
Guiding Eyes for the Blind
Independence Guide Dogs
Kansas Specialty Dog Service, Incorporated
Leader Dogs for the Blind
Mira Foundation USA
Southeastern Guide Dogs
The Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Incorporated
The OccuPaws Guide Dog Association
The Seeing Eye, Incorporated
Of the 19 schools asked to participate in the survey, I have received back 7 completed surveys as well as notification from one school choosing not to participate.
The completed surveys have been forwarded to be uploaded onto the Guide Dog Users Inc. web page.
I have been following up with the schools I have yet to hear from and hope to soon have heard from the remaining schools.
Legislative Committee Report, March 2015
Task 1. Prepare web pages for the legislative portion of the new GDUI web site
Update: final draft completed, approved and posted on GDUI web site at:
Task 2. Research, track and review service animal state legislation
Update: Upon request by our Maine affiliate, provided testimony in opposition of two bills in the Maine State legislature regarding housing requirements and a state certification program for service animals; and consulted with our Arizona affiliate regarding a bill to require service animal registration and exclusion of all service animals in food service establishments.
Task 3. Quarterly submission for PawTracks.
Update: Identified and submitted an educational publication regarding service animals in the work place.
Task 4. Work with ACB national office to draft suggested legislation that penalizes pet owners who misrepresent their pets as service animals.
Update: The final draft is nearly complete and almost ready for board approval.
Ginger Kutsch, Chair
Membership Committee Report
March 24, 2015
We were not able to have a meeting this month, March, due to the unavailability of members so these notes are from our February meeting and updates I have received since then. We will meet again on the second Thursday in April, April 9 at 7:00 PM EST.
Betsy is working on the project of contacting potential vendors to give discounts to our members. She is concentrating on pet insurance companies at this time.
Most, if not all life members of GDUI have been contacted via phone or email. We have not heard back from everyone but the attempt was made. I would like to thank those on the committee who volunteered their time to make this possible: Alex, Pam, Jane, and Mary Beth Metzger. The members really enjoyed being contacted.
I understand there is controversy over this issue but would like to discuss it at a future board meeting concerning giving our life members a small token of “thank you” for becoming life members. I will ask for this to be put on an agenda once I have a price for a potential gift.
A project that we will be working on is the possibility of developing a program for assisting current guide dogs with medical bills due to large expenses because of an illness of the guide dog. I will give more information about this project as soon as more details are developed.
Nominating Committee Report, March 2015
Committee members: Sarah Calhoun, chair; Margie Donovan; Betsy Grenevitch & Jane Sheehan.
The committee met in February 2015 to discuss the director application form and the process in accepting each application. A deadline was established for all applications to be submitted to the committee.
Several invitations were Emailed to members via the announce, chat and leadership lists, along with being published in Paw Tracks welcoming members to submit a director application to become a candidate in the upcoming 2015 elections.
The Nominating Committee is excited to announce the following candidates!
Vickie Curley of New Jersey, Ken Metz of California & Dixie Sanderson of Connecticut!
The committee thanks each candidate and appreciates them for volunteering to run for a position on the GDUI board! Good-Luck!
The two director positions will be available in July 2015, each have a three year term and will expire in July of 2018.
The Nominating Committee along with the Constitution & Bylaws Committee will be holding two combined Bylaws & Candidate Forums. The first segment of the forums will be discussion of the proposed Bylaws. The second segment will be the candidate forum. During both segments, members will have the opportunity to ask questions and make comments.
The date and times for the combined Bylaws & Candidate forums will be on Saturday, April 25, 2015 beginning at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time. The second forum will be held on Saturday, May 9, 2015 beginning at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time. Reminders will be sent out for both forums which will include the date, time, telephone number and access code.
Sarah Calhoun, chair
Office Manager & Products Report
Things have been busy here in the GDUI national office. Lots of product flying out the door, both through the website shopping cart and PayPal and through phone credit card orders.
After much struggle and tribulation, I mastered ACB’s data base system and certified all the 463 people who were members of GDUI as of March 16, 2015. That will give us 19 votes at the ACB convention. I encourage anyone who’s not a current member of GDUI to still join in order to be eligible to vote in our May election for board positions and the new Bylaws. We don’t yet know what date will be selected as the record date, so best join now to make sure you’re counted as eligible to vote in the May election.
Programs Report as of 3-25-15
The GDUI convention will once again be held in conjunction with the American Council of the Blind’s annual Conference and Convention. The 2015 annual ACB convention will be held at the Sheraton Dallas, located at 400 N. Olive St. in downtown Dallas. All GDUI convention meetings (with the exception of Sunday preliminary get-togethers, hotel orientations, and Helping you and Your Guide Dog Adjust to Convention Session) will be held each week-day after ACB general sessions have concluded, Monday, July 6 through Wednesday, July 8 In addition, GDUI will host Breakfast Club events each morning of convention, beginning on Monday, July 6, and ending on Wednesday, July 8. More details will be made available as we finalize events and hear back from our invited speakers.
• GDUI Pre-Registration Form is complete and will be submitted for review.
• Recruiting donors for GDUI’s Silent Auction is ongoing and growing.
• Auction committee is diligently researching and testing different options on how to best include offsite auction attendees.
• The Program Committee continues to work with the Public Relations (PR) committee to work on an introductory release about our 2015 GDUI Dallas Convention.
•We continue to advertise the GDUI conference and convention in Paw Tracks, GDUI weekly Announcements and in upcoming Braille form.
• GDUI Guide Dog School Liaison continues to communicate with the Guide Dog Schools.
In collaborating with the “Guide Dog Trainers,” there will be two days of hotel orientation: Sunday, July 5, 2015 & Monday July 6, 2015.
• GDUI liaison is working with ACB on the relief area, both at the hotel and airport.
• The volunteer coordinator is outreaching prospective recruits for our conference via letters to Delta Gammas.
Recruiting member for GDUI’s Ambassadors Club
• The “Appreciation Reception” for Trainers and Staff, to be held on Monday July 6th at 7 pm, is currently being organized (more to be announced at a later date).
• We have reached out to local vet techs to provide their nail trimming and ear cleaning. Their schedule in the suite will be announced later.
• Becky Barnes – Davis of the “Awards Committee” will be handling the awards.
The following link will provide more in-depth information about the convention: http://guidedogusersinc.org/gdui-2015-convention/
Again, I would like to thank the Programs Committee members who have assisted me in working on all of the above. I am very grateful for the expertise and time devoted for this upcoming GDUI Convention.
Lilian Scaife, Program Committee Chair
Publications Committee Report March 2015
Spring greetings, all. This past quarter has been quiet for this committee. We have been working and supporting the other GDUI committees with various assignments.
Our Facebook and Twitter feeds are going well, however, we would like to achieve more followers. We think this will trend upwards as we get closer to the National convention in Dallas.
The Chat list and leadership list are going well, thanks to our moderators.
The document revision project is on hold until Annie and her new dog settle in; plans for another call is forthcoming. The handbook is also still under revisions and ¾ completed.
We would also like to acknowledge the effort of the bylaws committee, great work with a very top heavy and jargon-rich document. As always, we are ready to assist with proofing and writing GDUI documents, whatever the need.
The last few months the website has posted a number of relevant pages for the DAPP and the Legislative committees respectively, so please let us know what you think by visiting and reading them. Feedback is key to improving our brand.
Respectfully submitted by, Annie Chiappetta, Publications Co-chair, GDUI
Special Concerns Committee Report
Hello GDUI members and friends. It is wonderful to have finely made it to spring. Let’s hope that the spring like weather will not be too far behind.
Our Empathizer team still stands ready to provide a listening ear to anyone who might need to talk with another dog guide handler about what ever might be going on in his or her life. As a dog guide handler. Our team will continue to remind our members and friends of their presents and their willingness to be available whenever someone needs to talk.
Now that our Empathizer team is in place, I am thinking of another project that I would like to start working on. I would like to put together a group of dog handlers from as many of the schools as possible to be able to provide an objective sounding board for anyone who might want to not only avail themselves of the fantastic recently updated dog guide school Survey, but also to be able to actually speak with someone to answer in a more personal way any questions a
Person may have about any given school. I would like to work with our guide dog school liaison along with a committee of around 3 to 4 members to work on the details of how to set this up correctly. This project will take a considerable amount of time to put together as there will be several steps that will need to be taken before we would be able to present this idea to the board. As of now, it is just a series of thoughts and ideas rolling around inside my head.
As of late, my family and I have been through a rather difficult time. We are slowly working ourselves back to some kind of normalcy, whatever that might be. Soon, I would like to talk with our Guide dog school liaison so as to come up with a consensus as to the best way to set this up. Then I would like to look for a few good dog guide handlers to start working on an Application for those who may serve on this panel. This project will take time, but I feel that it will be
Well worth it in the long run. There will be more to come regarding this project.
Please remember that our Empathizer team is ready and willing to chat with you at just about any time. If anyone should need a list of Empathizer team members, either contact me or Jane for names or contact information. I believe that this information can be found on the GDUI website. Thank you so very much.
Respectfully submitted, Vickie Curley
January 1 through March 23, 2015
Beginning checking account balance as of January 1, 2015:
Capital One: $10,708.86
Carrollton Bank: $2,570.04
Total checking account balance as of January 1, 2015: $13,278.90
First Georgetown $117,007.00
Fund-Raising Income: $2,535.00 as follows:
Silpada jewelry sales: $550.00
Donation, unspecified: $825.00
Donation, un specified, ACB/MMS: $120.00
2015 summer drawing: $1,040.00
Legislative Expense: $196.00, as follows:
Membership income: $2,907.00, as follows:
2015 dues: $990.00
2015 dues, from affiliates: $1,267.00
Life membership dues: $650.00
Membership expenses: $2,185.00, as follows:
Per capita to ACB: $2,185.00
National Office Expenses: $417.04, as follows:
Credit card processing fees: $311.80
PayPal processing fees: $18.20
Product income: $1,804.00, as follows:
Product sales: $1,684.00
Product shipping: $120.00
Product expenses: $423.94, as follows:
Product mailing and handling: $209.14
Product purchase: $214.80
Publications expenses: $205.75, as follows:
Production, 2014 PawTracks (winter): $200.00
Ending checking account balance as of March 23, 2015:
Capital One Bank: $11,556.47
Carrollton Bank: $5,549.70
Total checking account balance as of March 23, 2015: $17,106.17
Total Account Balance First Georgetown as of March 25, 2015 $117,007.00
Lynn Merrill, Treasurer
Website Committee Report – March 2015
The Website is coming along well. Due to the work of the various GDUI committees, content is being added on a consistent basis. In the past month the site has been updated with:
. A new convention page;
. The DAPP section on the Resources page;
. A new and improved Advocacy/Legislative page under the Resources
. The weekly announcements on our blog.
We will be adding the guide dog school surveys on the Resources page as well as adding the Amazon Smiles link to the front page of the website.
The Committee and the webmaster did hours of testing on reported email issues and after having done troubleshooting with the web host provider and the plug-in creator, we have found the system has been working fine. All emails had been going to the correct email address.
We should thank our webmaster for really going above and beyond with this issue.
A challenge is presenting itself on the board list. Some messages are coming through up to a day after being sent. This is due to our having our web hosting plan on a shared server. At the time of the board’s discussion on whether to get shared hosting or a private server, no one realized how popular our Chat list was going to be.
On the shared plan, we are allotted 200 emails per day on the server. This includes emails to the board and chair inboxes as well as each message to the email lists. Our chat list contributes more to our email usage and we are not aware of issues with that list.
End of all reports.
A Guide Dog Handler Salutes Fellow Advocates and An Airport Policeman
By Robert Acosta
Last Thanksgiving, my wife and I flew to Phoenix to celebrate the holiday with a couple of friends. When we arrived at the Phoenix airport from Burbank, Calif., we were met by a skycap with a wheelchair for my wife. We began walking to the baggage area but soon learned that he was also pushing a lady from Nebraska as well. Then he told us that he had to assist the nice lady to her gate and could we wait a few minutes.
Of course, we agreed to do so. Well, as you might imagine, the wait grew longer and longer. Then a kind policeman approached us to wait with us for the skycap. The skycap finally came back to tell us that he got to talking with people at the lady’s gate, but the police officer said that he would escort us to the baggage area himself.
Our friends were meeting us and the officer told them via his cell phone to park at the curb, and that if anyone gave them trouble, they should inform the officer at the curb that they had our escort’s permission to stay put.
We got our baggage, but the officer then showed me where the relief area was. It was just outside of the front door of the terminal. Angus was a happier dog after the visit. Then the officer assisted us to the waiting car and loaded our baggage.
Before he left, I asked him for the name and phone number of his supervisor as I wanted to commend the great work of the police here. I did call his sergeant and told him about the entire situation. He duly noted my commendation.
Why am I telling you this story? I want to also thank our great Arizona affiliate for the fine work it is doing in Arizona. My dog was well accepted by everyone at the airport, especially that fine police officer as they were thrilled to welcome him to Phoenix.
Too often, the police get bad publicity for their efforts to see that we live in a lawful society. As an old, retired school teacher I give the police force and our great Arizona affiliate an A plus.
Contributors to This Issue
We wish to thank the following individuals for their contribution to this issue of Paw Tracks:
Download link: Paw Tracks Summer 2015