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Fall/ Winter issue Newsletter of the National Association of Guide Dog Users A division of the National Federation of the Blind Jana Moynihan, Editor
Table of Contents
1. Retirement: When an Old Dog Must Learn New Tricks 2. President’s Message 3. NAGDU Meeting Minutes 4. Old Nate 5. Taking Your Dog to Barbershop 6. Diary of a World Traveller 7. UK-Bound Guide Dog teams Earn Their Wings 8. Advocacy Matters 9. We Welcome Service Animals, Including Seeing Eye Dogs! 10. From the President’s Desk 11. SURVEY ON ESCALATOR USE 12. Solicitation of Articles 13. NAGDU Board of Directors 2005/2006
By Jana Moynihan (acting Editor)
Many of us have experienced the retirement of our close friends and companions, our guide dogs. Some have become old hands at this after retiring their third or fourth dog. I went through this experience for the first time three years ago with my companion of almost eleven years, Vail. I have often wondered what went through his dog’s mind when I suddenly stopped taking him to work one day and he remained at home all day in the house with just our children’s dog, Sadey and two cats for company. Well, now I may have the chance to find out since health, as in Vail’s case, is forcing me to retire from 34 years in the work place as of the first of January 2006. I am not quite prepared to give up my old patterns of life and have not had much chance to plan for what I will do with my time now that I must establish a new daily routine However, unlike my friend, Vail, I have had a few months to prepare and I had some ideas in mind of things I might do to fill the hours of my life between 8:30 and 5:00 five days a week.
Certainly, one of my thoughts has been to give more time helping with the work of the Federation, so, when my husband, Jim Moynihan, found that he did not have enough time in his schedule to continue as Editor of Harness Up and Priscilla was looking for a new editor, I offered to try it. Jim and I have worked together on many of the things he has contributed anyway and I have written a few articles over the years for the Braille Monitor and our state publication, The Blind Missourian. Elsewhere in this issue of Harness Up, you will find a fine article on retirement and loss of our companions. I think this is a good thing for all dog users to discuss from time to time. No matter when the time comes for each of us, I imagine it is always difficult. At least it was for me. Vail had served me well and faithfully for almost eleven years. He was, I might say, practically perfect. He was steady and smart in his work, rarely distracted or shaken. He saved me from stepping into the path of a right turn on red car on two occasions that I know of, certainly saving my life since I didn’t hear the car coming due to construction noise. He was also a true gentleman around the house. Most of the time he lay quietly near us. His only two faults were occasionally sniffing when in harness and twice taking big bites out of birthday cakes setting on the stove. However, there came a time when he began losing vision, arthritis caught up with him, and he developed a breathing disorder for which the vet never found a specific cause. Walking at my normal pace, I began to find myself getting ahead of him. I knew retirement was the only solution, so, on his twelfth birthday he said good-bye to all of his friends at my office and began his life as a family pet.
I don’t know how hard the change was for Vail. I know it was difficult for me. For several months thereafter I caught myself saying forward actually or mentally every time I crossed a street. My husband and children laughed indulgently. Some of my other friends probably thought I had lost it. Perhaps one thing, which may have helped Vail was that, the last day I worked him, I tried to finalize things for him. Whether his animal intellect understood this or not, I don’t know, but I tried to get the point across. Normally I hung his harness on a special rack on the wall in our foyer, which my father had made for me when I first got Vail. This last day I took off the harness and showed it to Vail. Then put it in the coat closet and firmly shut the door.
Vail seemed to settle into his retired status well. Eventually his breathing problem cleared up and his arthritis improved. He spent another three years as a family pet until he died of a stroke at the end of May this year. I miss his gentle presence greatly.
Now I am faced with the decision of whether I will get another dog or not. I had not gotten another dog after retiring Vail because my husband had a large, spirited guide dog, Trooper, and the children’s dog, which was supposed to have grown into a medium sized dog, had become a great bear of a dog bigger than either Vail or Trooper. Three big dogs and two cats in one house are just a bit much without adding a fourth. . Then, Vail’s work was so excellent that I was afraid I could never come to care for another partner as much. Now my health is a factor. I am not sure I can handle the pull of a young dog much as I would like to go back to the freedom and fast movement of another dog. I am not sure I will work the dog enough to keep it happy and healthy.
I hope you enjoy this issue of Harness Up, and that, in future, those of you who have run into interesting stories or have new information about guide dogs will contribute something. This is, after all, OUR publication and new voices are most welcome when they have helpful information to give.
Before ending this article, something has just come to my attention from listening to “Talk of the Nation” on National Public Radio during my lunch hour. There was a short segment the other day on a new canine virus going around. It apparently began in horses, but has jumped breeds and is increasingly found in dogs. It is spreading. According to the veterinarian who discussed it on Talk of the Nation, it is not necessarily life threatening to dogs if caught early. The initial symptoms include cough like in kennel cough and listlessness or fever. She recommended that people should check with their vets and be sure to take their dogs into the vet if they develop coughing, as they can develop pneumonia if the disease is not promptly treated. There is no vaccine for this as yet. It is worth asking your vet, or the vet at your school about this.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as your editor. Please let me or Priscilla know if there are features or items of interest you would like to see and please contribute any articles you feel may be helpful to your fellow guide dog users.
By Priscilla Ferris
It has been a season of sadness, helplessness, and struggle as we wonder what we can do to help our fellow Americans. The hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico have been of great concern to many. We have received many telephone calls as well as many emails asking what, if anything, we can do to help Guide Dog users to give them whatever support necessary. I have contacted some of the Guide Dog schools and have received the same advise across the board. People with guide dogs should contact the schools at which they received their dogs. Some schools sent out instructors to help wherever they were able to be of assistance.
I had received the telephone number of the veterinarian in charge of the animal evacuation and relief efforts and tried to make contact. My goal was to explain how animals acting as guide and service animals needed to be treated in a special manner; that they are specially trained and should be kept with their partners at all times. Also, it should be said that Guide Dog and Service Animal partners should never let anyone take their dogs. I realize that it is a difficult thing to think about, but one should never let their dogs be taken from them no matter what they are told. Not only is it traumatic to the unit, but it is also against the law. The ADA is clear about this. As to whether this matter of telling the heads of the rescue services that they were uninformed will incite action or reform, we did try to get this accomplished.
Seeing Eye has made contact with all graduates known to be in the areas hit by the storms. We also know that other schools were very active in assisting their graduates. Many people offered shelter to those in need of it. Our efforts to help were very much appreciated. In a situation that calls for helping where we can and giving support and assistance where we are able, it is very frustrating to want to help and there does not seem to be anything you can do. There is always some seemingly small thing we can do, like keeping the victims of such a catastrophe as this in our thoughts and prayers.
The following letter demonstrates the measures we, as guide dog users, need to take to keep our guides with us. Never let anyone convince you to separate you from your guide dog!>
Dear Mr. Roberts:
Having received the many inquiries that you have from other dog-guide handlers, I'm certain that my e-mail won't be much of a shock. The fact is, however, that our family was indeed evacuated during the morning of Feb. 7th, while in the midst of the notorious blizzard of '78. At the time, the rescuers told us that we could not take Tuffy and Audrey (our German Shepherd guides), for the rules didn't allow for "pets." I was in no mood for a debate at the time, so I scooped up each dog, plowed through nearly three feet of ocean water and deposited them in the Chevrolet Traveler rescue vehicle; then Gloria, as well as my three kids and I boarded. The Chevie struggled, firstly, through floodwaters, then through more than 36 inches of wind-blown snow farther from the coast where water couldn't wash it away. We were out of the house for more than six weeks, and the damage was substantial. Aside from that unpleasant recollection, Mr. Roberts, my purpose for writing is to learn the following: Is there any ADA stipulation which declares as clearly as Federal language is able that a dog guide, i.e., service animal, MUST be allowed to accompany its master/mistress, if evacuation to a disaster relief facility becomes necessary? Does Seeing Eye retain a roster of states which have such legislation permitting dog guides, i.e. service animals to be evacuated with their masters/mistresses in times of such need?
The time to move on establishing such regulations/laws/ordinances is now; for the weather is ever unpredictable, and we who live on Neptune's doorstep should be ready. Our home, built in 1888, is a mere 505 feet from the water's edge. The kids, of course, are long grown and gone their separate ways, but it doesn't hurt to plan. Should foul weather threaten; and if we have the time to arrange, we are welcome at our daughter's home in West Bridgewater, but that is the other side of Boston. We'd need rather a lengthy warning to permit her and her husband to come all the way up, through the tunnel, then turn around and return. Accordingly, understanding the vagaries of New England coastline weather, we think it is wisest to have a back-up plan ready.
In the meantime, I'll be in touch with our local officials and at the state level. Sorry for the long letter, but this is serious stuff, and I want to overlook nothing. As Vice Chairman of Winthrop's Commission on Disabilities, I intend to establish greater clarity for our disabled and blind citizens, insofar as resources and policies are concerned. Where this is concerned, I'll be happy to pass along any pertinent information.
Gloria, Wally, and Eric are well. We've passed our 97th year of combined Seeing Eye Dog use, and taking dead aim on the century mark. For all those years, Seeing Eye has managed to improve upon its program, its service, and its attitudes toward blindness. Once again, thank you. We remain ever your friends.
Gloria and Al Evans
Submitted by, Melissa Riccobono, Secretary July 3, 2005
The meeting began at 7:05 PM. President Priscilla Ferris welcomed everyone to the meeting. Diane McGeorge gave us some information regarding the relief area policies.
Kenneth Rosenthal spoke about the International Guide Dog Federation. Rosenthal is president of this organization. The International Guide Dog Federation is based in England, and has existed for the past 12 years. American and Canadian guide dog schools are members. It provides services to guide dog schools such as opportunities to exchange ideas, to participate in dog-related research, and accreditation of its member schools. The next International Guide Dog Federation Seminar will be in New York. Their website is: www.igdf.org.uk.
There is a link to this website on the NAGDU website:www.nfb-nagdu.org.
Michael Hingson spoke about traveling to the UK with a guide dog. England and other countries have been Rabies free and they adopted a strict policy against animals entering these countries without being quarantined because they do not want to introduce rabies into the country. These regulations are changing regarding guide dogs entering these countries. On Friday, July 1st, 2005, Continental Airlines became the first US airline to allow guide dogs in the cabin on a flight from the US to the UK. This is largely because of the efforts of the NFB and guide dog schools. To make such a trip, you will need to follow some regulations ahead of time. Please visit the NAGDU website to learn what the regulations are. We are working with Cruise Lines for similar policies.
The Seeing Eye and Guide Dogs for the Blind gave reports about new happenings at their schools.
Dr. Maurer discussed the relief area at the Jernigan Institute. This area has not been installed yet because of cost problems associated with its construction at the time the Jernigan Institute was built. Plans for the relief area have been completed however, and it should be completed by Christmas of 2005. This area will have a pad of concrete, a curbstone, and grass. It will not be in a covered area, but will be enclosed with hedging, a gate, and a fence. The relief area will be landscaped with trees and decorative plants, plus a sprinkler system for watering and easy clean up. Bids have been taken for the construction of the relief area, and it will cost somewhere between 65 and 100 thousand dollars to complete. It will be located south of the Johnson Street wing of the original building. If you exit the Wells Street doors, the relief area will be straight across the driveway. A key card system has also been purchased and installed. This system should be operational within the next month, and will make it much easier to exit and enter the building without being locked out.
The secretary's report was read and approved. Marion Gwizdala spoke about the importance of organizing Guide Dog Divisions in every state affiliate. We have 52 state affiliates, but we know of only 5 guide dog divisions. If you have a guide dog division in your state, please send the name of your division, its officers, and contact information to Priscilla Ferris. Priscilla's email address is:firstname.lastname@example.org
Priscilla reminded us to let the NAGDU board see and hear what things state guide dog divisions are sending out to the media before they are sent.
We are getting a new NFB NAGDU brochure.
The treasurer’s report was read and accepted. We voted to make a donation of $200 to the five NFB funds.
Peter Donahue spoke about changes made on the NAGDU website. We have past issues of Harness Up on our website and also legislative information. We hope to have issues of Harness Up in audio format on our website in the near future. If your guide dog division has a web page, please send the URL to Peter. Please include a table of contents with every large document you submit to Peter for the website. This will allow people to link to each article directly from the table of contents. We will also be looking into the possibility of online registration for next year's NAGDU meeting if the NAGDU board approves this.
The school reports resumed with Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Leader Dogs, Guide Dog Foundation, and South Eastern Guide Dogs.
The meeting adjourned at 9:50 PM.
Making the Right Choice Meeting
Tuesday, July 4, 2005- Minutes Submitted by Priscilla A. Ferris
This meeting was very well attended by both Guide Dog users and those taking it under consideration. Our guests spoke concerning different aspects of using a Guide Dog. Diane McGeorge spoke concerning the use of a dog versus a white cane, saying that one should have knowledge of both before making their choice.
Jay Stitley of the Seeing Eye spoke about traveling situations, both on airplanes and with ground travel. Our next speaker was Mike Hingson of Guide Dogs for the Blind in California. Some of his comments concerned the hiring of legally blind folks in certain jobs at the school. It is a very good start to have blind folks on their staff. As we know, there are some other schools that have already begun this practice.
Fred Schroeder, a cane user, told of his experiences at Guide Dogs for the Blind in California working with a Guide Dog and finding what it felt like to use a dog as opposed to a cane. He was, as usual, a great speaker.
During our meeting, some of the instructors present were taking folks on Juno walks. We want to thank them for helping with this important part of our convention- helping folks make an informed choice.
The meeting adjourned at 9:45 and we had time for many individual conversations among ourselves.
by Fred Schroeder
I have been a cane user for all of my adult life. Over the years I have observed blind people with guide dogs who travel well and, of course, some who travel less well. As a cane user, it is hard for me to understand what it would be like to use a guide dog. It seems like the method of orientation must be significantly different, and as with most differences, we tend to assume that the familiar must be better than the unfamiliar. This is human nature; we assume our way of life is better than the way of life of others. We assume that our form of government is better than the forms of government of other countries. The assumption that the familiar is inherently better than the unfamiliar extends to many things in our lives--to food, dress, music, religion, and so on. In other words, much of what we assume to be superior is nothing more than an expression of the comfort of the known as contrasted with the fear and apprehension of the unknown.
For the most part this is harmless. It leads us to order the steak instead of the escargot; to select the soft rock station instead of the rap, but if the draw to the familiar were nothing more than a choice of meal or CD to add to our collections, no great harm would be done. But the truth is that our choices, our devotion to the known, is also the root of prejudice and intolerance. It leads us to talk about "those people," as if people from other lands, races, and cultures are alien apart from us. It leads us to look down on difference, we ask, "how can kids today listen to that noise?
So, I use a cane; I have as long as I have been blind. I like using a cane. I find it comfortable, efficient, and ... familiar. But does that mean it is better? And, if so, is it better in general or just better for me?
At the 2004 national convention, I had lunch with an old friend, Michael Hingson. I have known Michael since the mid 70's when we were both living in California and active in the Student Division. Over lunch Michael and I talked about many things, including Michael's move back to California following his escape from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. He now works with Guide Dogs for the Blind, one of the largest and most respected guide dog training programs in the nation. Michael invited me to visit Guide Dogs, tour the facility, meet the staff, learn about the training and ... tryout a dog. So a few months later, in November, 2004, I took him up on his offer.
After a day and a half of meetings and touring the program, the time came for me to try using a dog. Michael introduced me to one of the experienced trainers at the school who would prepare me for my trial experience with a dog. The session began with a "Juno" walk--a rolled-up piece of carpet with a harness, affectionately called, Juno, simulating a guide dog. The instructor introduced me to the various aspects of working with a dog and had me practice walking with Juno. Then came the part I had been waiting for, I was introduced to Nate, a young black lab in training to become a real guide dog. Now, I am not a dog person. I like dogs well enough but am not the type of person who would have a dog or, for that matter, any animal as a pet. I assumed I would like the dog but did not expect to have much in the way of an emotional response or an immediate sense of attachment to him. Yet from the first moment I met Nate, I found myself deeply touched. He was the sweetest dog, gentle, loving, and affectionate. He wanted to please, and even though he and I had just met, he wanted to please me.
We began with a few basic commands. The trainer told me to give Nate the command to "sit." Still moved by the unexpected attachment I was feeling toward Nate, I gently said, "Nate, sit." But Nate did not sit. Instead he turned his head and looked up at me over his shoulder. It struck me that the command to sit was purely arbitrary, and there was really no particular reason for him to obey. Apparently Nate felt the same way, also seeing no value in sitting. It might have ended there, but the trainer told me to repeat the command firmly while pushing down on Nate's backside to show him that I meant it. I knew that dogs are pack animals, and as pack animals, someone had to be in charge. Clearly Nate had in mind that the one in charge should be him, and that seemed perfectly reasonable to me. After all, he had had much more experience with this than I had, but I remembered the Juno walk and the dreaded leash correction --a sharp snap of the leash to get the dog's attention and let him know you are serious. It occurred to me that if I didn't get Nate to sit, the trainer may well direct me to give this sweet, gentle animal a leash correction. It would break my heart. I repeated the command to sit with all the firmness I could muster, silently pleading with Nate to go along with the charade and pretend that I was the one in charge. To my relief Nate complied and complied with all the subsequent commands I was asked to give. He sat, stayed, healed, and so on; of course he would, he had been well trained and was a smart fellow. Then came time to actually walk around the campus.
I had several impressions all at once. I found the speed exhilarating. I am used to walking at a good pace, but I was surprised by Nate's speed. He stepped right out, and I must say I enjoyed the pace. As trained, when he came to a curb, Nate stopped on a dime, while I, less practiced and less graceful, did not. In short order, however, I found it was not hard to react quickly when Nate stopped, but I also found I was concentrating intently on Nate's movements so as to be able to react at the right time. This affected my orientation. While concentrating on Nate and his movements, I was not paying attention to what was around me. In a few minutes I found myself disoriented, and I don't mean a little disoriented--I was lost.
Years ago, I taught cane travel in Nebraska. It occurred to me that what I was experiencing was precisely what my new students did when first learning to use a cane. I used to call it "following your cane tip." New students are so focussed on what their canes are touching that they ignore all the other cues around them. I was "following my cane tip," or more precisely, I was following Nate and ignoring the sound cues and the other information in the environment. In my short time with Nate, I never got past concentrating on his movements to the exclusion of other information, yet, I assume that this is easily remedied with time and experience.
All to quickly the time was up. It was time for Nate to return to his duties and for me to move on to the next phase of my visit. Hugging Nate goodbye, I could see just how deep the bond must become between a blind person and his or her guide dog. I felt bonded to Nate, and Nate, doubtless knowing that he was the alpha dog in our little pack, seemed genuinely attached to me as well. I do not know if I will ever get a dog. Right now I doubt it. I have used a cane for so long and find it so comfortable and familiar that I cannot imagine changing to a new way of traveling. I still have a hard time understanding how people using dogs orient themselves. For me the contact of my cane with objects I encounter is basic to the way I learn my way around and integral to building a complete picture of the world. Yet I know that many blind people use dogs. Some are well oriented and others are not, but the fact that some are, leads me to assume that it can be done. I suspect it is for many of the same reasons that some blind people who use canes are well oriented and others are not. Some people have better natural ability to orient themselves than others; some have had better training--training rooted in high expectations; and some pay more attention than others. If I used a dog regularly, I assume I would learn to be as well oriented as I am with my cane, but I don't know for sure. It may be that in some situations a cane is better and others in which a dog is an advantage.
One problem is that you really cannot "test drive" a guide dog. To give it a fair test, I would have to use a dog for a long time--I assume a year or more. But after a year with Nate, I would not simply be able to clinically make an objective appraisal and dispassionately select between my cane and Nate as if they were merely objects. When I leave my cane, it does not kiss me goodbye. As hard as it was to say goodbye to Nate after only thirty minutes, I know I would not be able just to hand him over after months of being together; and, even if I could, it would not be fair to Nate. Not meaning to be boastful, but I assume Nate would find it as hard as I to live and work together for a year or more, then simply shake hands and walk away with no regrets. The decision to get a guide dog seems to me to be a kind of leap of faith--acting on the belief that, given all of the practical and lifestyle considerations--the person decides to go with a dog instead of the cane. For some I assume the choice is easy. True dog lovers would probably find the prospect of a dog in their lives a welcome addition. For others the choice is likely more one of function, the care of the dog, and the individual's lifestyle.
For me, I cannot see a dog in my life; I like using a cane. Perhaps it is merely out of habit and familiarity, but whatever the reason, I am comfortable with it. Perhaps it is because I suspect that I do not have it in me to be the Alpha dog in the relationship; who knows? Yet I will never forget the experience and the attachment I felt to this young, energetic dog who seemed so guileless and eager--so loving and ready to please--ready to become a part of my life and, if I was not up to the job, the leader of our pack.
By James Moynihan
The barbershop I am talking about is not where you go to get a haircut: it is where you go to sing four-part barbershop harmony. I belong to the Heart of America Barbershop chorus in Kansas City, Missouri and I would take my first two guide dogs, Hogan and Dean to the rehearsals. When I arrived at rehearsal I would tie my dogs in back of the risers and retrieve them when the rehearsals ended. The dogs would lie placidly sleeping during rehearsals. At the end we would sing Keep America Singing. A member of the chorus told me that these dogs would stand up when we sang this number; somehow these dogs knew that the rehearsal was over. I doubted the veracity of this statement but several chorus members assured me he was telling the truth so I had to believe him. Naturally I expected that my third guide dog, Trooper, would behave in the same way. Boy was I in for a rude awakening.
Trooper was a huge, powerful golden retriever who decided he wanted to join in the fun. He attempted to climb up on the risers to join me while we were singing. I called Seeing Eye for help and Pete Jackson, a Seeing Eye trainer, came to a barbershop rehearsal. He found it hard to believe that my previous dogs would lie there quietly with all that activity going on. He said I should ask a chorus member to let me know when Trooper stood up so I could correct him. I tried to follow Pete Jackson’s advice but Trooper’s conduct proved to be too distracting so I decided to try plan-B. At the next rehearsal I tied Trooper to a heavy piano, which was on wheels and was some distance from the risers. Trooper decided he was not close enough to where I was standing in the chorus. The members of the chorus stared open-mouthed and then roared with laughter when they observed Trooper dragging the huge piano toward the risers. I learned several lessons from this experience:
by Joyce Kane and Corey, Connecticut, U.S.A.
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
I had an opportunity this summer to perform what Mahatma Gandhi had once said. The U.S. State Department invited my Seeing Eye dog, Corey and I to travel to India and meet the Blind of India and share my story, my life and tell how a guide dog has played an important part in my regaining my independence. Corey and I went to India for a month to bring service animal awareness to the country and people of India. They invited me there to speak on advocacy for the blind, traveling independently with a guide dog, blindness, managing ones diabetes with the loss of sight and the Americans with Disability Act.
We toured India including Mumbai, Ahmedad, Chennai, Bangalore, Calcutta and New Delhi. It took a year of planning and getting things all set for our trip with special permission needed for Corey to be allowed to travel with me. We had to get special permission from the Indian airlines, restaurants, airports and hotels, places that here in the United States we do not give much thought to going with our guide dogs. It took letters from the Commissioner of Disabilities from the Capital in New Delhi to finally get the OK from one of the airlines that flies within India to allow Corey to travel onboard with me. I traveled to India and back only with Corey as my guide. This was the first time out of the United States and I was doing it alone.
Let me tell you a little about my Seeing Eye dog, Corey. She is a 9-year-old German Shepard. I have had her for 6 ˝ years and she is my first guide dog. She did a wonderful job on the trip to India. She worked hard and reacted well in every new situation that we faced. The Seeing Eye can be very proud of her as she made quite an impression everywhere we went. Her picture was in all the newspapers and major television stations in India We visited many of the schools for the blind, visited hospitals and a medical University, spoke to audiences in the embassies, schools, hospitals and training centers and had over 400 come to hear my speech and meet Corey in Bangalore. We actually had to sneak out through the kitchen to finally escape from that crowd of people.
At one of the blind schools in Calcutta, after I had spoken to the children, they lined up and came up on the stage, shook my hand in greeting, saluted Corey and had to pat her back and then continued down off the stage. I was really impressed when someone described to me what they were doing. I had suggested they come up on stage to greet us and after 200 students did this we had a chance to tour the school. We visited another blind school in Bangalore that is well known for their traditional Indian dance performances. These children will be performing in the U.S. in the Spring of 2006. A dance teacher there showed me how they teach the blind students to dance; she strikes a pose and the students touch her to feel where their hands and feet should go and how they should be positioned. Corey watched while the teacher demonstrated to me how it is done.
Corey and I had a chance to do only a little sight seeing. We went to Gandhi’s home. The diplomat from Mumbai stayed out doors with Corey as you must remove your shoes to enter and we did not think they would allow her in with me. We were the only tourists there at the time. The wife of the caretaker said it was all right for Corey to join us. So Corey guided me through Gandhi’s home. They even allowed me to touch Gandhi’s spinning wheel and then asked me to sign and write a little in the guest book they have for “special guests”.
Corey and I leisurely walked around the Gate Way of India in Mumbai/Bombay that is located on the Arabian Sea. Our stroll was captured and appeared on the front cover of the “Woof” magazine, which featured the topic of service animals. The article stated that it was the “first time a blind person walked around this popular tourist sight with her guide dog from the Seeing Eye.” This is a publication in India.
I am happy to say while I was there I learned that there was a litter of Labrador retrievers born outside of Mumbai and the plans are that these puppies will begin their training soon to grow up to be the first guide dogs trained in India. I am sorry that I did not have the opportunity to meet Dr. Nitin Sule from the Drushti Guide Dog School for the Blind who has started the first guide dog school for the blind of India. I have been in touch with him since I returned home. I gave some blind teachers and blind students a chance to walk with Corey to have a little idea of the feeling of being led by a guide dog. Corey put up with it all. I was touched by so many people and I hope I touched them. I know that Corey did. We definitely brought awareness of guide dogs to India.
by Peter Donahue
On June 1, 2005 guide and assistance dog users throughout the World achieved a major victory. On that day, British Airways, and Virgin Atlantic Airways began permitting guide dogs to travel in their passenger cabins on their routes in to the UK from North America, and many other destinations Worldwide. They were joined on July 1, 2005 by Continental Airlines with the approval of three routes from the United States to London’s Gatwick International Airport making it possible for guide and assistance dogs to enter the United Kingdom, (UK) without quarantine, and to accompany their owner in the passenger cabin. This two-year campaign was launched in 2003, and was spearheaded by Michael C. Osborn of California who went to England to lobby the British Government on behalf of guide and other assistance dog users for a change to the policy that required all pets, including guide dogs from Non-European Countries to travel in to the UK as manifest cargo. The battle was joined by individual guide dog users, and by organizations of guide and assistance dog handlers including the National Federation of the Blind, and the National Association of Guide Dog Users, (NAGDU.)Achieving this victory is proof positive of what can happen when guide dog users come together as a cohesive group with a single purpose, and speak with one voice to end practices that hamper our ability to travel throughout this World accompanied by our dogs.
When achieving victories such as this we must remember that with new rights goes responsibility. We can now bring our dogs in to the UK without quarantine, and to travel with us in the airplane cabin. There are preparation procedures we must follow prior to our journey to permit our dogs for entry in to the UK, or to other countries with similar requirements. Much of this article will detail this preparation procedure for entry in to the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme as well as information those traveling to the UK will need to know to ensure their trip goes smoothly, and to ensure the success of this program. Including this information in Harness Up will benefit those without Internet Access.
I have also included information concerning the EU Pet Passport to benefit those who may want to travel to other destinations within the European Union in addition to the UK. You will find this of use if your travels include the UK and other European destinations. These procedures must be undertaken by owners of both guide and assistance dogs.
The United Kingdom’s Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) was introduced on February 28, 2000, and has been in existence for five years. Under this Scheme, pet dogs (including guide dogs), cats and ferrets can be brought into the UK from specified countries without undergoing quarantine, subject to the fulfillment of certain conditions. It also means that people in the UK can, having taken these animals to one of these countries, bring them back to the UK without quarantine.
The PETS is administered by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA). This scheme applies to travel by sea, air or rail, and only operates on routes which have been agreed by DEFRA. A travel operator, e.g. an airline wishing to operate the scheme on a particular route, must have approved a Registered Method of Operation, (RMOP) for the route with DEFRA. Pets traveling on airlines under the scheme are normally carried in the aircraft hold. An exemption within the scheme allows guide dogs to travel in the cabin with their owner. Until 13 April 2004 a requirement that dogs must travel in a sealed container on some international routes meant that it was not practical for these dogs to travel in the cabin on many routes. This requirement was removed and now enables airlines to allow guide dogs to travel in the cabin with their owner. In light of this, a group was established to work towards creating a recognized and agreed protocol for carrying guide and assistance dogs in the cabin of the aircraft and, to make it a success.
The International Travel Work Group was established by The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and developed a comprehensive and workable set of guidelines which guide dog and other assistance dog owners could use to prepare for international travel. The group consisted of various governmental agencies such as the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, (DEFRA), and the UK’S Civil Aviation Authority, (CAA) as well as internationally-known organizations such as the International Guide Dog Federation, (IGDF), and representatives of the airline industry.
The preparation procedures can be performed in any qualified PETS country. To enter or re-enter the UK, or to transit in the UK en route to a final destination from qualified PETS Countries without quarantine guide and assistance dogs must, in this order:
They must not have been outside any of the qualified PETS countries in the 6 calendar months immediately before traveling to the UK and must enter the UK using an approved transport company and route. A list of qualified PETS countries, and approved sea, rail, and air routes on which guide dogs may accompany their owners can be found on the DEFRA, and NAGDU Web Sites.
Step 1: The microchip
Your dog must first be fitted with a microchip that meets ISO Standard 11784 or Annex A to ISO Standard 11785. If the microchip does not meet one of these Standards you must provide a reader that can read the microchip number at the time of any inspection. Ask the person fitting the microchip to check that its number can be read before and after it has been fitted. Your vet should read the microchip every time you visit.
Step 2: The rabies vaccination
Guide dogs being prepared to enter or re-enter the UK must be at least 3 months old before being vaccinated against rabies. The dog must be vaccinated after a microchip has been fitted. Have the vet check the microchip number before the vaccination. If the dog was vaccinated before the microchip was fitted, it must be vaccinated again. This is to make sure that it is correctly identified when vaccinated. When your guide dog is vaccinated, the vet must record the following details on its vaccination record and passport or third country official veterinary certificate:
After your dog has been vaccinated and blood tested with a satisfactory result, it will need booster vaccinations. These must be given by the “Valid until” date in section IV of the passport or veterinary certificate, or on the PETS certificate, and be recorded on the vaccination record and in section IV of the passport if you have one. If the booster date is missed, your guide dog must be vaccinated and blood tested again. If you have a passport, a vet (in Great Britain a Local Veterinary Inspector (LVI) will need to complete the second box in section V.
Step 3: The blood test and the Six-Month Rule
Once vaccinated, your guide dog must have a blood test to make sure that the vaccine has worked. For guide dogs being prepared in an EU country, this can be carried out after your dog has traveled to a non-EU listed country unless a blood test is required for entry to that country, (Australia, Hawaii, or New Zealand for example.)
Your vet will tell you the best time for the blood test to be done and will take a blood sample to be analyzed at an EU-approved laboratory. Take your dog’s vaccination record with you when the blood sample is taken. Ask your vet to read the microchip and to give you a signed record of the date the sample was taken that accurately shows your pet’s microchip number.
A satisfactory blood test result will show that the rabies antibody titer was equal to or more than 0.5IU/ml. Make sure your vet gives you a certified copy of the result, accurately showing the microchip number and the date the blood sample was taken, and keep it safe.
Your guide dog requires only one satisfactory blood test and 6 calendar months wait provided the subsequent rabies booster vaccinations are given by the required date. This wait is necessary because an animal infected with rabies before vaccination would not be protected by the vaccine. Six months is the time needed for most infected animals to display any clinical signs of Rabies. The rules are to protect human and animal health and to reduce the risk of importing rabies into the UK. Animals not meeting all the rules must be licensed into quarantine. If your dog fails its blood test it must be blood tested again. Your vet will advise if it first needs to be revaccinated. The 6 month rule will apply.
Step 4: Documentation
After your guide dog has passed its blood test you must obtain an EU pet passport (for pets in EU countries and certain non-EU listed countries) or a third country official veterinary certificate (for pets in non-EU listed countries not issuing passports). This will show that your dog has been microchipped, vaccinated against rabies and has had a satisfactory blood test. If the blood test is to be carried out in another listed country, you can get a passport after your dog has been microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. To enter the UK, the passport or certificate must also show a current treatment for ticks and tapeworms at the time of return to the UK.
EU pet passport:
In Great Britain, the passport is issued by an LVI. If your veterinary practice does not have a resident LVI, your vet may be able to tell you where the nearest one works. Your local Animal Health Divisional Office can also provide these details. DEFRA does not charge vets for the passport. In other countries issuing passports, a vet will issue the passport. When you go to get the passport take your guide dog, its vaccination record and blood test result. The documents must show your dog’s microchip number. Also take evidence of the date your dog was microchipped. Make sure that the vet correctly completes sections I to IV of the passport and V if necessary.
Using the passport to enter the UK:
A passport may not be used to enter or re-enter the UK under PETS until 6 calendar months have passed from the date that the blood sample which gave a successful test result was taken. You can then continue to use the passport to enter the UK provided your pet is revaccinated by the “Valid until” date in section IV (see step 2 if the date is missed).
Replacing the passport:
When the passport is full, you should apply to a vet (in Great Britain an LVI) for a new one. Take the full passport and your dog with you. If you lose the passport, you may obtain a new one by producing your dog’s vaccination record and blood test result, both of which must show the dog’s microchip number.
Third country official veterinary certificate:
This certificate can be issued by any vet in a non-EU listed country, such as the United States. It is headed “Veterinary certificate for domestic dogs, cats and ferrets entering the European Community for non-commercial movements (Regulation (EC) No 998/2003)”. The certificate must be a single sheet in English and may also contain a translation in another language. It must be completed in block letters in the language of the EU country of entry or in English. When you go to get the certificate take your guide dog, and its vaccination record and blood test result. The documents must show the dog’s microchip number. Also take evidence of the date the dog was microchipped. Make sure that the vet correctly completes sections I to V of the certificate and enters his/her own details in the following box. If the vet is not a government-approved veterinarian, the certificate must also be dated and stamped by a vet authorized by the competent authority.
Validity of the certificate:
You need to be aware of the following. The certificate will not become valid for entry to the UK for 6 calendar months from the date the blood sample was taken shown in section V. However, it is only valid for entry to the EU and subsequent travel within the EU for 4 months from the date it was signed or endorsed, or until the “Valid until” date shown in Part IV, whichever is earlier. You should therefore delay getting the certificate until a month or two before you travel to ensure that it will still be valid when you enter the UK.
To enter the UK, the certificate must also show a current treatment for ticks and tapeworms at the time of return. In addition to the certificate, when you travel you must have with you your dog’s original vaccination record and blood test result (or certified copies) that show the microchip number.
Changing the certificate for a pet passport:
If the certificate expires while you are in the EU, you will need to ask a vet to issue a European pet passport. In addition to the certificate, you must provide the vet with your pet’s original vaccination record and blood test result (or with certified copies) that show the microchip number. Make sure your pet is revaccinated against rabies by the “Valid until” date in section IV of the certificate.
Guide and assistance dogs transiting in unlisted countries when traveling to the UK need a declaration from the transport company to confirm that they remained within the ship or the perimeter of the airport and did not come into contact with other animals during the stopover. British Airlines only carry guide and assistance dogs in their cabins on routes, which do not transit in such countries allowing the dog’s owner to avoid the need for this documentation. This may not always be the case with non-UK airlines hence the need for this documentation. Keep your documents safe because the transport company checking your dog will need to see them. You are responsible for ensuring that you have the correct documentation for your dog to enter the UK. Make sure that it is completed correctly and your dog meets all the rules. If you do not, your dog may not be able to enter the country or may have to be licensed into quarantine on arrival. This will mean delay and cost you money.
Step 5: Treatment against parasites
Before your dog can enter the UK, it must be treated against ticks and tapeworms. Any vet in a listed country can give the treatment. You must not do it yourself. Make sure the vet reads your dog’s microchip before treatment. Your dog must be treated between 24 and 48 hours before traveling into the UK. The treatment must be given every time your dog travels to the UK. If you are taking your dog abroad from the UK on a day trip, it must be treated in the UK between 24 and 48 hours before your return journey. The product used for the tick treatment must be licensed for use against ticks and have a marketing authorization in the country of use. Tick collars are not acceptable. The product used for the tapeworm treatment must contain Praziquantel. The treatments are to stop the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis and certain ticks from entering the UK. These parasites can carry diseases, which can infect other animals and humans causing illness and sometimes death.
Recording the treatment:
After the treatment, the vet must fill in sections VI and VII of either the EU pet passport or the third country official veterinary certificate. For both documents, the date and time of treatment (using the 24 hour clock), the name of the product used and its manufacturer must be shown. The vet must stamp and sign the passport or sign, date and stamp the certificate. Make sure all these details are correctly recorded before you leave the vet.
Step 6. Traveling to the UK
If you bring your guide dog into the UK under the Scheme directly from a non-EU listed country you must use one of the routes and transport companies approved to transport guide and assistance dogs in to the UK. Alternatively, you may travel to another listed non-EU or EU country and then enter the UK on an authorized route. In this case, unless your dog does not leave the confines of the airport during the interchange, the tick and tapeworm treatment must be given before you check in for the final stage of your journey. Routes may change and new ones may be added. For the latest information, check the PETS or the NAGDU websites or ring the PETS Helpline. Some routes are seasonal or irregular so check availability with the transport company.
Notify the airline when making the reservation that a guide dog will be traveling with you. If making your reservation on-line follow up by phone to notify the airline you are traveling with a guide dog. Check to be sure that your dog can travel in the cabin. It is at the discretion of British Airlines as to whether they levy a charge for an additional seat to ensure there is adequate room for the dog. The dog’s owner is responsible for such payments if necessary. Owners should request written confirmation from booking staff that a guide dog will accompany its owner in the aircraft cabin, and should ask that this acknowledgement be forwarded to the owner prior to travel.
British Airlines require the use of a safety harness used to secure dogs on the back seat of a car. These harnesses can be obtained from any pet supply store, or can be ordered over the Internet. The harness should be checked and adjusted to fit to ensure maximum safety and comfort of the dog before the planned journey. U.S. Airlines will not require the use of this harness. The dog should be secured through the loop on the back of the harness to the normal safety/seat belt in the aircraft. This could be the same seat belt the guide dog’s owner is using or the adjacent seat if this is vacant.
Amendments to the United States Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) will not mandate the use of these harnesses for guide dogs flying on U.S. carriers.
Prior to your travel date be sure that your dog’s PETS documentation, is faxed to the animal Clearance Centre at your arrival airport in the UK before the travel date. This will permit the documents to be checked and help to minimize any potential problems. There are currently approved routes for guide dogs to travel in the cabin to London Gatwick, Heathrow, and Manchester International Airports. At this time there are only direct routes from North America to Gatwick, and Heathrow. Direct routes to Manchester are expected to be approved in the near future.
A clearance fee is charged by the Animal Reception Facilities at Gatwick, and Manchester Airports for guide dogs arriving at these airports in the amount of $250.00 U.S. There are no clearance charges for guide dogs arriving at London’s Heathrow Airport. The Animal Reception Facility at Heathrow is operated by The London Corporation, which has decided to absorb the charges it would normally levy for clearing a dog traveling under the PETS scheme. Animal clearance at Gatwick, and Manchester is contracted to private companies that charge for this service. Unlike the U.S. there is no UK legislation that exempts guide dog owners from having to pay these fees. Guide dog owners traveling to the UK on any approved airline and route are strongly urged to fly in to Heathrow. Alternatively you can fly to Gatwick on British Airways to avoid this charge. UK Airlines can determine if they will cover this expense for guide dog owners or not. British Airways will cover this expense for guide dog owners flying in to Gatwick. Continental Airlines will provide partial relief from this cost. The handler must pay $130.00 for animal clearance at this airport. Virgin Atlantic does not cover this charge for guide dog owners. This amount can be paid on, or prior to the date of travel. Check with your particular airline to arrange for payment of this fee. We will provide additional information as to other airline policies, and efforts to remove this expense for guide dog owners traveling to the UK in the future.
7. Arrival in the UK
When traveling into the UK with a guide dog by ferry, your dog’s documentation is checked before boarding for ferry crossings and Euroshuttle, and on arrival in the UK when traveling by air and by Eurostar. In the case of ferry crossings you will be provided with a green sticker you must affix to your person, or vehicle to alert officials at your arrival port that your dog has successfully passed the PETS check prior to boarding the vessel. This sticker should be left on until you have left the arrival port.
If arriving by air, or via Eurostar the guide dog owner will be met at the arrival airport, or at Waterloo Station by an animal clearance agent who will check the dog and documentation for clearance under the Pet Travel Scheme. Confirmation that the dog has been cleared will be provided to the owner in the form of a self-adhesive clearance tag, which will be attached to the dog’s leash or harness. This should not be removed until the owner has cleared customs and immigration checks.
The guide dog owner should not attempt to go through immigration or customs with the dog until it has been cleared by an official, in accordance with the PETS scheme. Anyone attempting to do so should be advised that the dog will be deemed to have landed illegally and will be subject to the appropriate sanctions. If no one is immediately available to check the dog on disembarkation, the owner should advise a customs or immigration official who will arrange for the necessary checks to be carried out as soon as possible. This may involve a short wait.
8. Failing the PETS Check
Guide dogs that fail the check will be seized, and held in the animal reception facility until the problem is resolved. The dog will not be allowed to travel in the case of a ferry or Euroshuttle crossing. If failure occurs after arrival in the UK it will have to go into quarantine, be deported, or as a last resort be put down. If a dog arriving by air or Eurostar has failed only because it has not met the rules on tick and tapeworm treatment, it must be treated on arrival and then held for 24 hours after treatment. If the animal arrives at Heathrow, this can be done there. In all other cases it must be done at local quarantine premises. If it is treated in quarantine, you must seek approval for its early release.
Anyone planning to travel to the UK with their guide dog is strongly urged to review this information, and acquaint themselves with this preparation process. I will keep Harness Up readers abreast of new developments in the future. My contact information, and other useful contacts appears below:
Peter Donahue 100 Lorenz Road APT. 1205 San Antonio, Texas 78209 Phone: (210) 826-9579 E-mail: email@example.com Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, (DEFRA) Telephone: +44 (0) 870 241 1710 (Mon - Fri – 8:30am to 5pm UK time) Fax: +44 (0) 20 7904 6206 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.defra.gov.uk National Association of Guide Dog Users, (NAGDU) Phone: 508-673-0218 Web Site: http://www.nfb-nagdu.org/laws/uk/united_kingdom.html British Airways World-wide Reservations: 1-800-247-9297 Web Site: http://www.britishairways.com Continental Airlines Domestic Reservations: 1-800-525-0280 International Reservations: -1-800-231-0856 Web Site: http://www.continental.com Virgin Atlantic Airways Reservations: 1-800-862-8621 Web Site: http://www.virginatlantic.com
The Seeing Eye established an Advocacy Council in February 2004, to focus on the issues that negatively affect Seeing Eye graduates and the dog guide community at large. This recurring column in The Guide will provide updates on current issues being addressed by the Advocacy Council.)
Fifteen years have passed since the adoption of the Americans With Disabilities Act, but people using service dogs still face challenges when it comes to hotel and motel lodging. “We Welcome Service Animals” is a national campaign to teach people in the hospitality industry and law enforcement how to improve service to disabled guests who depend on service animals for assistance. The nationwide campaign, originated by the California Hotel & Lodging Association, points out that service animals are not pets and explains how these animals enrich the lives of many disabled Americans by performing vital tasks that increase their owners’ safety, mobility and independence.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), hotels, motels, inns, B&B’s and other lodging establishments are required to treat people who are blind and use Seeing Eye dogs like all other guests, providing them with the same service and access to all areas where guests are normally allowed.
Lodging establishments may not restrict people who are blind and their Seeing Eye dogs to certain areas — such as smoking floors, “pet rooms” or restaurant smoking sections. They are allowed in all guest rooms, dining rooms and buffets, swimming pools, hotel shuttles, exercise rooms and any other place guests are allowed.
Lodging establishments may not charge an extra fee or cleaning deposit for service animals at check-in. However, like any other guests, those with Seeing Eye dogs are still responsible for any damage caused by them or their dogs. For more information about the “We Welcome Service Animals” program, or to request additional materials about access to lodging establishments, please contact The Seeing Eye Advocacy Council at (973) 539-4425 or email email@example.com.
By Priscilla A. Ferris
We issue our thanks, once again, to all of the Guide Dog schools and their representatives for being available to participate in our past National Convention of the NFB. We sincerely hope that they will join us in Dallas, Texas for the 2006 Convention during the week of July 2nd through 7th, 2006. They were a great help to their graduates with their advice to those encountering various problems.
We have just finished updating our NAGDU brochure. Developed by members of our NAGDU division, we now have copies available through the Materials Center. These are great to have if you are someone who does school programs or other speaking engagements. This is an excellent way to get the “do’s and don’ts” of meeting a Guide Dog team out to people.
If you were fortunate enough to have attended our NAGDU business meeting during our National Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, you would have heard Dr. Maurer describing our new Guide Dog area that is being completed at our new Jernigan Center. We sincerely hope that, if you have the opportunity to visit our National Center, all Guide Dog users will take the time to visit this area with your dogs. If you will be staying at the center for a few days, you will be given a “key card" to gain access to the outer door at any time. We want to thank Dr. Maurer and everyone who took part in the planning, for providing this area for those of us who use Guide Dogs. For those unaware, this area did not come without great expense to the NFB. We were told that it will cost somewhere around $100,000.00. Thank you very much to all the members of the NFB for making this a possibility.
A message from our Treasurer:
If you have not yet had the opportunity to pay your dues for 2006 please do so. You just need to send your $15.00 checks, made payable to NAGDU, to 140 Wood Street, Somerset, MA 02726. We, as a division, donate to five (5) programs within the NFB. We feel that as members of the NFB, we should help to support its efforts.
The newsletter, Harness Up, is now available to you in three (3) formats: large print, cassette and email. If you have not already done so, please let us know your preferred format for Harness Up. Send all requests for change to our address-
140 Wood Street
Somerset, MA 02726
One last reminder: During the convention in Dallas, Texas next summer (2006), we will be holding elections. As far as we know some of the officers are standing for reelection, but time, and our members, will tell the story. This is just a message for you to be thinking about.
As you may have noticed by the leading Editorial, Jana Moynihan is now Acting Editor. We know that this issue will be as full of information as usual. After all… keeping you informed is our goal.
From: Lynn Holdsworth at Lynn.Holdsworth@rnib.org.uk
Are you a guide dog user? If not, do you know someone who is?
I hail from London, UK, a City that's almost impossible to navigate without using escalators. According to the guide dog association in the UK, it's illegal and dangerous to allow a dog to ride an escalator.
I've been using my guide dog on escalators since 2000 without incident, but the guide dog people have asked me for an assurance that I won't allow my next dog to ride them.
I've talked to some people in the US and Canada, whose dogs are train to walk or jump on and off escalators. I've tried hard to find someone whose dog has been injured on an escalator, but so far I haven't managed it.
I've put a survey on the internet at http://www.SiteNoObject.co.uk/escalator/.
I'd really appreciate pro- and anti-escalator feedback from guide dog owners all over the World.
If you know any guide dog users, please pass this message on to them.
Thanks for your help,
We would like to invite anyone who has a wish to join the Harness Up newsletter to write something that you feel would be of interest and to the enjoyment of our readers. We publish the newsletter in November and April. Articles should be submitted by October 15th for the Fall/Winter issue and April 15th for the Spring/Summer issue.
We can always find news to write about, but the insights and experiences of our members and friends make our newsletter more of a well-balanced product.
We hope to hear more from you.
President, Priscilla A. Ferris
140 Wood Street
Somerset, MA 02726
firstname.lastname@example.org Vice-president, Marion Gwizdala, M.S.
1003 Papaya Dr.
Tampa, FL 33619
Phone: (813) 630-2789
email@example.com Secretary, Melissa Riccobono
1026 36th Street
Baltimore, MD 21210
Phone: (410) 235-3973
firstname.lastname@example.org Treasurer, Bob Eschbach
1186 North Verbena Place
Casa Grande, AZ 85222
email@example.com Editor, James and Jana Moynihan
445 East 74th Street
Kansas City, MO 64131
Phone: (816) 444-7909
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