Prom night wasn’t on the agenda for seniors Delaney Johnson and Nick Ackerman.
The two teens, both with disabilities, go to different high schools and hadn’t even met until their service dogs — in a way — brought them together.
Nick, who has a service dog named Troy, was interviewing Delaney, who has a service dog named Griffin, for a school video project on service dogs.
Making small talk, she asked him, “Are you all geared for prom?” When he told her he had no plans to go to his, she volunteered to go with him. He accepted.
With their service dogs along, they attended his school’s prom, then hers.
A Lansing State Journal columnist and photographer went along — and you can find their story and video here.
Delaney, 17, goes to Haslett High School, where, before she got her 2-year-old Dutch shepherd Griffin, she would faint or pass out up to 20 times a day due to narcolepsy.
Between medication and help from Griffin, that condition — and a second neurological condition called cataplexy — have been brought under control.
Her dog acts to distract her if she’s experiencing anxiety and, in case of an attack, he’s trained to stay with her, lying on top of her if she becomes incapacitated so that she feels protected.
“Since I got Griffin, I’ve not had any major cataplexy attacks at all,” said Johnson, a singer and songwriter who plans to take Griffin with her this fall to attend Grand Valley State University. “…He’s my own personal little bodyguard.”
Nick attends Forest Hills Central High School in Grand Rapids, where he’s a champion debater. His service dog Troy helps Nick, who was born without arms, do everything from carrying things to zipping up his coat.
Nick, who plans to attend Eastern Michigan University in the fall, met Delaney two weeks ago, when he interviewed her for a class project on service dogs and the subject of proms came up.
On May 2, they went to his prom. Last Saturday, they went to hers.
The columnist and photographer accompanied the foursome — from home, where they posed for family photos, to a sushi dinner and then to the prom itself.
“I was going to stay home and eat ice cream and watch movies,” Delaney said later. “I’m just so glad I went…It was an amazing time.”
(Photos by Matthew Dae Smith / Lansing State Journal)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 13th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, disabilities, disability, disabled, dogs, high school, michigan, pets, prom, prom night, schools, service dogs, students
A dog in Colorado is learning to get around on four prosthetic paws.
Brutus, a two-year-old Rottweiler, lost all four paws after suffering frostbite, and the amputations are said to have been performed by the breeder who owned him.
Last September, after being taken in by a foster mother, he was outfitted with two rear paws, followed a couple of months later by two prosthetic front paws.
While his gait may still look a little awkward, the prosthetics — made by OrthoPets of Denver — have enabled him to get around outside.
“It’s not always pretty. We want to be able to give him a higher function, where he can run and play with other dogs, go on hikes,” foster mom Laura Aquilina, of Loveland, told KDVR.
Brutus is reported to be only the second dog ever known to have four prosthetic limbs.
“Brutus is an amazing case of a beautiful dog who was dealt a short hand, said Martin Kauffman, founder of OrthoPets. “He can get out and do normal doggy things. And it just makes you feel so good.”
The company makes prosthetics for about 250 animals worldwide a year.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 30th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: amputation, amputee, animals, brutus, colorado, disabilities, dog, dogs, frostbite, no paws, orthopets, paws, pets, quadruple, recovery, rehabilitation, rottweiler
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
She didn’t win the race, but a disabled dachshund named “Anderson Pooper” was the clear crowd favorite at the annual Wiener Dog Races at Emerald Downs in Washington state.
Partly paralyzed, Anderson Pooper bested several other dachshunds in her heat, some of whom veered off the trail or never budged from the starting gate. Twenty-four dogs participated in the races.
A video of the July 18 race, sponsored by Seattle radio station Star 101.5, was posted to YouTube by Anderson Pooper’s owners, and led to an article about her (she’s a female) in the New York Daily News this week.
David Sizer and his wife Brenda, who runs Animals with Disabilities, adopted the dog four years ago. Her rear legs were paralyzed as a result of a spinal injury
Her paralysis requires the 7-year-old dachshund to wear diapers. Between the frequent changing those required, and Brenda’s maiden name (Anderson), the family decided to name the dog Anderson Pooper.
“She loves running. Any chance she gets she’s all in for it,” David Sizer said. “We’ll take her to the coast and she’ll run on the beach and we have a hard time keeping up with her.”
Posted by John Woestendiek July 24th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: anderson pooper, animals, cart, dachshunds, disabilities, dogs, emerald downs, pets, race, races, washington, weiner dog, wheelchair, wheels, wiener dog
A 19-year-old survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing was told her service dog was not allowed to walk the aisles of a TJ Maxx in New Hampshire.
Sydney Corcoran says she was shopping at the store in Nashua when a store manager said her service dog needed to be placed in a store-supplied “carriage” or leave the store.
Corcoran suffered shrapnel wounds in the bombing and her mother, Celeste, lost both legs. Sydney Corcoran got Koda, her service dog, to help her deal with post-trauamatic stress disorder.
“He’s crucial to my everyday life now,” she told WCVB.
Last Thursday, Koda was wearing his service dog vest when a manager approached and said, “If you want to keep your dog in the store, you have to put him in the carriage.” Sydney said she informed the manager that Koda is a service dog and that he wouldn’t be able to fit comfortably in the carriage. The manager, she said, told her the carriage was a new policy, and that she was required to comply.
“She said, ‘I’m sorry.’ And I said, ‘That’s not good enough. You should have known,’” Celeste said. “You just made someone with an emotional disorder so much worse.”
She added, “There are so many people with invisible, silent injuries — and the public needs to be aware that their service animals are sometimes their lifeline.”
TJ Maxx said in a statement: “We are taking this customer matter very seriously. Customers with disabilities who are accompanied by their service animals are welcome in our stores at any time.
“We have looked into the particulars regarding this customer’s experience and deeply regret that our procedures were not appropriately followed in this instance. We are taking actions which we believe are appropriate, including working with our stores to reinforce the acceptance of service animals.”
(Photos: Top, Sydney and Celeste Corcoran with Koda, WCVB; bottom, Celeste and Sydney in this year’s Boston Marathon, Reuters)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 14th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: americans with disabilities, apology, bomb, boston, boston marathon bombing, celeste corcoran, disabilities, federal, koda, law, marathon, new hampshire, post traumatic stress disorder, service dog, store, survivor, sydney corcoran, tj maxx
The settlement followed a federal judge’s declaration that Sabal Palm Condominiums in Davie, which sued to force the woman to get rid of the dog, had behaved in a manner both absurd and unreasonable, not to mention in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
“Sabal Palm got it exactly — and unreasonably — wrong,” U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola wrote in his order.
“This is not just common sense — though it is most certainly that.”
Scola ordered the condo association to allow Deborah Fischer, a retired art teacher, to keep her service dog, the Miami Herald reported.
Fischer, who uses a wheelchair and has limited use of her arms and hands, received a service dog in November 2011 from Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit group that provides dogs for people with disabilities.
The dog – a 5-year-old Labrador-golden retriever mix named Sorenson — has been trained to help Fischer pick things up, open and close doors and retrieve items from counter tops.
The condominium association, saying the dog violated its 20-pound limit on pets, began demanding medical records and other information to prove that Fischer needed Sorenson — and it sued Fischer when, it said, she failed to provide it.
Fischer, along with her husband, Larry, counter-sued, saying the condo board’s demands violated the federal Fair Housing Act, or FHA.
Judge Scola, in a 30-page ruling, strongly agreed with Fischer.
That the condo association “turned to the courts to resolve what should have been an easy decision is a sad commentary on the litigious nature of our society. And it does a disservice to people like Deborah who actually are disabled and have a legitimate need for a service dog as an accommodation under the FHA,” he wrote.
Condo board members suggested that Fischer could get a smaller service dog, but Scola didn’t buy that argument.
After Scola ruled in the Fischers’ favor, their attorney negotiated a $300,000 settlement with the attorney representing Sabal Palm.
Fischer said Sorenson can recognize 40 separate commands.
“He has made my life so much better,” she said.
(Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Dietz)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 30th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, association, condo, condo association, condominium, countersuit, court, davie, deborah fischer, disabilities, dog, dogs, fair housing act, federal, fha, florida, golden retriever, judge, judge robert scola, labrador retriever, lawsuit, matthew dietz, mix, ms, multiple sclerosis, pets, robert scola, ruling, service, service dog, settlement, sorenson