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News: Guest Posts
State of Wonder and Bookstores
Beth Finke meets Bark contributor and fan, Ann Patchett
Harper and I made sure to hobble in early. I alerted the strangers who joined us at our table that there was a dog underneath, and when one of them lifted the tablecloth to have a look, she said, “Oh, a black Lab. How sweet!” My Seeing Eye dog is a male yellow Labrador Retriever. She’d mistaken the behemoth black cast on my foot for Harper. We were at the Women’s Athletic Club on Michigan...
News: Guest Posts
Paradigm Shift for Seeing Eye Dogs
Deploying a clicker and treats to help a hesitant guide dog
Five months ago (has it been that long already?) I returned with my new dog from the Seeing Eye School in Morristown to piles of snow here in Chicago. Poor Harper had never trained in snow. Was that why he was cowering on our walks to the Loop now? Does he miss the snow? Or maybe it’s a delayed reaction to the van that turned right in front of us. The driver didn’t see us crossing, she said....
News: Guest Posts
So You Think You Want to Train Guide Dogs?
A challenging and rewarding career
Earlier this month, my Seeing Eye dog Harper and I gave a guest lecture to an animal sciences class at the University of Illinois. I told the students what it’s been like transitioning to a new Seeing Eye dog, and I went over some of the qualifications necessary to become a Seeing Eye trainer/instructor. Trainers at the Seeing Eye need to have a college degree, and then they can apply for an...
News: Guest Posts
We Love Our Puppy Raisers
Rutgers students volunteer with future Seeing Eye dogs
I’ve been home three months with my new Seeing Eye dog Harper. He’s a two-year-old yellow bundle of Labrador energy, and not a day goes by where I don’t think of—and thank—the wonderful volunteer who raised him as a puppy. Harper and I trained for three weeks at the Seeing Eye last December. Before we left for home, our instructor read me Harper’s “puppy profile.” Each person who volunteers to...
News: Guest Posts
New ADA Regulations Narrow Service Animal Definition
But will it solve the problem of badly behaving humans?
Starting today, March 15, 2011, only service dogs and trained miniature horses are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Monkeys, rodents and reptiles, among others, are no longer permitted to accompany individuals with disabilities into places of public accommodation.   Department of Justice regulations (implementing Title III of the ADA) used to define a service animal as “...
News: Guest Posts
Guide Dog Leads Man to Safety After Quake
Pair weaves through wreckage for three hours after Christchurch earthquake
Blair McConnell had the bad fortune to be at work in Christchurch on February 22, 2011, when the earthquake hit. His luck changed when he dove under his office desk. His guide dog Kiwi was there waiting to help him. A story in New Zealand’s Sunday Star Times describes noble guide dog Kiwi leading McConnell through fallen masonry and concrete to safety. “I grabbed his harness and he was quite keen...
News: Guest Posts
Dogs Only
Federal government narrows service animal definition
If you have a disability and want to bring your helper parrot, monkey or snake with you in public, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. Revisions to the Department of Justice’s ADA regulations were signed by Attorney General Eric Holder last Friday, and they exclude exotic animals as service animals.   Monkeys, rodents, and reptiles, among others, will no longer be permitted to accompany individuals...
News: Guest Posts
Guide Dogs for Cats and Dogs?
Amazing stories of seeing-eye canines.
A story in the Daily Telegraph about a blind Border Collie who has his own guide dog didn’t surprise me. I’ve heard a number of stories about dogs acting as guides for blind animals. One news story—about a dog who guided a blind cat to safety after Hurricane Katrina—was even made into a children’s book. I learned about Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival at...
News: Guest Posts
Taxi Cab Confessions
Exploring cultural biases against dogs—in Iraq and at home.
An NPR story this week reported that U.S. soldiers are teaching Iraqi security forces how to use bomb-sniffer dogs—with one particular challenge. “Sniffer dogs are universally recognized as the most effective means of detecting explosives," the reporter explains. "But in Iraq, as in much of the Arab world, dogs are considered unclean.” That's a challenge. “The greatest tool you have in your...
News: Guest Posts
A Service Dog Who Bites?
Poor training is not fair to the dog.
A story in the San Francisco Weekly ("Service with A Snarl") describes Tita, a Chihuahua service dog who helps a man named Charles Esler deal with bipolar disorder. A happy, feel-good story, except for one thing: Tita bites. Tita regularly chases and lunges after people in public parks. She snarled and barked at a guard at the Social Security Administration. She bit Esler’s primary care provider...

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