Born with dwarfism, and without eyes, a golden retriever named Smiley is bringing comfort and joy to hospital patients, school students and nursing home residents in the small town of Stouffville, Canada.
Rescued from a puppy mill when he was one or two years old, Smiley was timid at first, said his owner, Joanne George.
“He was very scared,” she recalled. “[The dogs] had never been out of that barn.”
But as he came out of his shell, she saw that he had a personality worth sharing:
“People were so drawn to him, so inspired by him.” George told CBS News. “I realized this dog has to be a therapy dog — I have to share him.”
Smiley joined the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog program and, now 12 years old, still spends several hours a day dropping in on patients at retirement homes, visiting with special needs children in a library reading program and comforting patients at nursing homes near Stouffville.
George said when she first brought him home Smiley quickly bonded with another one of her dogs, a deaf Great Dane named Tyler.
“Tyler was so bouncy and crazy and happy go lucky and [Smiley] turned into the same dog,” George said. “He came out from underneath the tables where he was always hiding.”
“Dogs can come back from anything, they forget their past,” George said. “We as humans dwell on the past.”
One of Smiley’s favorite people to visit is a man named Teddy, who lives in a nursing home and, up until he met the dog, hadn’t uttered a sound.
“One day, Smiley put his feet up in front of [Teddy] and he started smiling and making noise,” George said. “All of the nurses rushed into the room and said they’ve never seen him smile — never seen any kind of reaction.”
Now every time Smiley visits the nursing home, Teddy is the first person he sees.
After caring for Smiley for 10 years, George says she has learned a lot about how to care for blind dogs: “Don’ t be his eyes, don’t run his life, don’t’ keep him in a bubble … Does he bump into things? Of course, he does. But he does it very carefully.”
George said Smiley changed her life — and was there for many memorable moments. “He came on my first date with me. He was my ring bearer at my wedding.” He has also brightened up the lives of hundreds more.
Even now, as he nears the end of his, she says — his fur getting whiter, his steps slower — his “tail will never stop wagging.”
(Photo: Joanne George’s Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 12th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, blind, blindness, canada, disabilities, dog, dogs, dwarf, dwarfism, golden retriever, pets, retriever, smiley, st. john ambulance, Stouffville, therapy dogs
The National Federation of the Blind in California has filed a lawsuit against Uber Technologies Inc., saying its drivers have refused to transport blind people who use guide dogs and, in one instance, forced a guide dog to ride in the trunk of a car.
One registered Uber driver in Sacramento put a passenger’s guide dog in the trunk while transporting her, and refused to pull over after the customer realized where the animal was, according to the lawsuit.
Other blind riders with service animals have been refused service and harassed, the National Federation of the Blind of California alleges in a civil rights complaint filed this week in San Francisco federal court.
Uber is a ride-hailing app that connects its registered drivers with riders. It is up and running in more than 70 U.S. cities.
While the company does set guidelines for the drivers — and pretty much any schmo can be one — it points out those drivers are independent contractors, and that the company cannot be expected to be able to fully control their behavior. (Or, it follows, be held legally liable for it.)
Uber, like Lyft Inc. and other car-booking companies, are seeking to crack open the $11 billion U.S. taxi and limousine market, according to Bloomberg News.
Through the app, they hook up people needing rides with registered drivers offering one, and take a cut of the fares collected — in effect collecting money while doing none of the actual physical work, and avoiding any actual responsibility.
The federation filed the lawsuit based on complaints from more than 30 blind customers nationwide who have been denied rides because they had guide dogs — a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and California civil rights laws.
The advocacy group says the company monitors and controls interactions between drivers and customers, and should adopt and enforce policies to prevent discrimination against blind people with service animals. It is seeking a court order declaring the company discriminates against blind customers with guide dogs, and measures that would ensure that drivers don’t refuse rides to the vision-impaired.
“The Uber app is built to expand access to transportation options for all, including users with visual impairments and other disabilities,” said Eva Behrend, a spokeswoman for San Francisco-based Uber. “It is Uber’s policy that any driver partner that refuses to transport a service animal will be deactivated from the Uber platform.”
What action, if any, was taken against the driver who allegedly put a guide dog in a car trunk wasn’t specified, but we think he deserves a lot more than being “deactivated.”
Posted by John Woestendiek September 11th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: application, apps, blind, california, car, civil rights, disabilities, discrimination, guide dogs, mobile, national federation of the blind, ride, service dogs, taxi, technology, transport, uber, uber technologies, vision impaired
Three men in Hartford knocked a blind man’s guide dog unconscious before robbing him of his wallet.
Francis Shannon, of Sigourney Street in Hartford, was walking his guide dog, Lady, near his home around midnight Aug. 2 when three men attacked and robbed him, according to NBC Connecticut.
“They hit the dog, knocked her out. I thought she was dead,” Shannon said. “She’s my everything. I can’t go anywhere without her,” Shannon said.
Shannon suffered minor injuries, and delayed in reporting the robbery to police because the attackers threatened to hurt him if he did.
They said, ‘If you call the cops, we’ll kill you,’” Shannon explained. “And they took my money – which I had my rent money, cards my ID – everything was in my wallet.”
He said he didn’t leave his house for days after the attack, but finally decided to call police.
Police say Shannon identified the voices of the attackers as those of three young men he has heard hanging out at a neighborhood grocery store.
Police are seeking the public’s help in finding the assailants. Anyone with information about the robbery and assault is urged to call Hartford police Sgt. O’Brien at 860-757-4089.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 11th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, assault, blind, blind man robbed, crime, dog, dogs, francis shannon, guide dog, hartford, help, knocked out, lady, new, pets, police, robbery, seek, sigourney street, tips, wallet
“Let me give you a public apology right now on behalf of the city of Houston,” Mayor Annise Parker said. “I don’t know what airhead – there’s another word in my mind but I’m not going to say it – would throw, you wouldn’t put a kid on the side of the road. You shouldn’t put someone’s pet on the side of the road.”
The airheaded officer has not been identified.
But police say an internal investigation of the incident is underway, and that it could take six months to complete.
As reported by KTRK, the complaint stems from a July 14 traffic stop. Josie Garcia says her husband and a friend were pulled over for failing to use a turn signal. Police say they found drugs in the vehicle — a prescription medicine called phencyclidine — and arrested both men. (The charges against Garcia’s husband were later dropped.)
According to Garcia, the arresting officer wouldn’t let her husband call anyone to pick up Guero, the family’s 14-year-old Chihuahua who was along for the ride.
Guero had bad vision due to cataracts, she says. He was left on the side of the highway when the vehicle was towed, and the officer took no steps to contact animal control, Garcia said.
“My husband pleaded with the officer to let him call someone to come get Guero … but he said it wasn’t his problem, that the dog would be fine,” Garcia said.
Three days later, Garcia, who had posted “lost” signs in the area, received a call from someone who had spotted Guero. She found him dead on a shoulder of the Eastex Freeway, about half a mile from where he had been left.
Guero wrapped the dog’s body in a towel, took him home and buried him.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 1st, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, airheaded, animals, annise parker, apologizes, apology, blind, cataracts, chihuahua, complaint, dog, dogs, eastex, freeway, guero, highway, houston, investigation, killed, law enforcement, left, mayor, pets, police, road
A homeowner’s association at Paradise Lakes Resort doesn’t have weight limits when it comes to human residents, and we guess that’s a good thing — even though the condo community is a clothing-optional one.
But the association’s rules run a little stricter for dogs, including one that bans any dogs over 25 pounds — apparently even when it’s a guide dog that belongs to a legally blind resident of the nudist community.
By now you’ve probably guessed that this can only be happening in Florida, specifically in Lutz, where a homeowner’s association has told Sharon Fowler she needs to get rid of her black Labrador, Laura, or move out, according to a lawsuit.
Fowler filed a lawsuit against the association last year. It was dismissed by one judge, but now that dismissal has been overturned by an appeals court, and Fowler has renewed her fight to keep the dog she says she can’t get around without.
“She helps me to get around curbs and obstacles,” Fowler told the Tampa Bay Times. “She’s 100 percent necessary to me. She’s my lifeline.”
According to a lawsuit filed last year, Fowler received a letter from the association telling her to get rid of the dog or move out.
The association said the dog violated their weight limits — something that wasn’t pointed out when Fowler filled out an application, disclosing the dog’s weight, when she moved in.
Even when Fowler provided documentation of her disability, the association did not withdraw the notice of the violations, according to the lawsuit.
“I felt demeaned, and I felt degraded,” Fowler said. “I’ve never felt so degraded.”
Her lawsuit seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages for mental anguish.
“It’s the principle of the fact,” Fowler’s husband, Craig, said. “The board needs to know they cannot bully us around.”
Fowler says she has been told to only walk the dog in specific areas, and stay out of the way of pedestrians. She’s also been told her dog is out of control, which she says is not the case.
“My dog is a highly trained service animal,” she said.
“Paradise Lakes Resort does not discriminate against any person with physical disabilities and does not prevent any person with service animals from visiting the resort,” owner Jerry Buchanan said.
Fowler’s accusations were directed at a homeowners condominium association not connected with the resort.
Fowler says she has a rare autoimmune disease called leukocytoclastic vasculitis, which has already affected her sight and could affect her hearing.
She doesn’t want to move because she has learned her way around Paradise Lakes, and appreciates being able to live in a clothing optional community.
(Photo: Fowler and Laura; by Brendan Fitterer / Tampa Bay Times)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 28th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, assistance dogs, association, black lab, blind, clothing, clothing optional, community, condo, dog, dogs, florida, guide dog, lab, labrador, laura, lawsuit, legally blind, lutz, nudist colony, nudists, nudity, paradise lakes resort, pets, rules, service dogs, weight limits
A blind man and his guide dog who were struck by a subway train in Manhattan Tuesday will be able to remain together — thanks to donations from members of the public touched by their story.
Cecil Williams fainted and fell on the New York City subway tracks, taking his harnessed dog, Orlando, with him.
Orlando barked for help and stayed by his side, even as the train passed over them.
In a story about the accident that aired on NBC Nightly News Tuesday night, it was reported that Orlando was slated to retire in January, and that Williams lacked the funds to continue to care for the dog afterwards, when the dog would no longer be covered by his insurance.
Since then, enough donations to their cause have been received by Guiding Eyes for the Blind to help pay for all of Orlando’s retirement expenses, and ensure that the pair’s eight-year relationship continues.
Williams, 61, was on his way to the dentist when he fainted at the 125th Street platform. Witnesses said the dog was barking and tried to stop Williams from falling, as he is trained to do. When they both landed on the tracks, Orlando tried to rouse Williams, who was unconscious. Both lay there as a slow-moving subway train passed above them.
Nieither sustained serious injuries.
“The dog saved my life,” Williams said of his Labrador retriever. “I’m feeling amazed. I feel that God, the powers that be, have something in store from me. They didn’t take me away this time. I’m here for a reason.”
Williams, who is on insulin and other medications, was taken to a hospital, where Orlando remains at his bedside.
The Brooklyn man has been blind since 1995. Orlando, his second guide dog, “saves my life on a daily basis,” he said.
At a press conference Williams thanked everyone “for showing their humanity and peace and goodwill” by making donations to the guide dog school that trained Orlando.
“All the people who contribute and donated I think we should take our hat off to them,” he said. “There’s still good people in this world.”
(Photo: Williams and Orlando at press conference; by Carlo Allegri / REUTERS, via NBC)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 19th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, blind, cecil williams, dog, dogs, donate, donations, fall, guide dog, guiding eyes, guiding eyes for the blind, labrador, labrador retriever, manhattan, nbc, nightly news, orlando, pets, saved, saves, subway, tracks, train, viewers
Here’s a quick video update on Ace’s old neighborhood walking buddy, Frank, who went blind a couple of months ago from diabetes.
When first they met, the dachsund’s only problem was being a bit overweight. With exercise and dieting he was trimming down nicely when he was diagnosed with diabetes and, almost overnight, lost his eyesight.
That made him a little hesitant, especially when he was outside, and wary about taking that next step — but only for a few days.
Now, he he tears up the nature trail when he comes over my way for a visit. And, as you can see from this outing to a soccer field, recorded by his owner, he bounds as much as he ever did, if not more. These days, he doesn’t hesitate to go full speed ahead, even when he’s not sure what’s ahead.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 19th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, blind, blindness, dachshund, diabetes, dogs, field, frank, health, park, pets, play, resilience, running, video