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Tag: disabilities

Perfectly imperfect: Picasso the dog honored for showing what beauty really is

Picasso, the rescued dog with a twisted snout, was honored by the Oregon Humane Society for showing the world how perfect one with an imperfection can be.

At a ceremony In Portland last week, the 2-year-old pit bull-Chihuahua-Pomeranian mix received a Diamond Collar Hero Award.

The awards honor animals and people who have acted to save a human or animal life in peril, performed services within the community with undying loyalty, or overcome incredible odds in order to survive.

Picasso and his brother were picked up as strays in southern California. They were on the list to be euthanized when Liesl Wilhardt, the founder and executive director of Luvable Dog Rescue, pulled them out and brought them to Eugene last year.

She later decided to keep both as her own, unwilling to let them be separated because of Picasso’s devotion to his brother.

picasso11Picasso and Pablo quickly became part of her extended dog family, and Picasso became an Internet sensation as well — both for his story of survival and his unique appearance.

“Picasso has overcome challenges that most dogs don’t ever have to, from surviving an assaulter to living on the streets. And he’s done it all with courage and grace,” Wilhardt says. “Picasso’s personality and temperament is just loving and accepting to all living things, despite what he’s suffered in the past.”

Pablo died in October from a brain aneurysm, according to the Eugene Register-Guard. Picasso, unlike his brother, was born with his facial deformity.

Picasso is now in training to become a therapy dog, but he has already touched many lives

“He really does touch people, especially those who look a little different like him,” Wilhardt said. “Whether they were born different or had an illness or accident that led them to looking different, he’s helped and inspired so many people.”

Those offering him praise and thanks include soldiers with disfiguring wounds and children coming to terms with looking different.

Picasso also has been nominated for a 2018 American Humane Hero Dog Award, an annual nationwide competition that searches out and recognizes “America’s Hero Dogs.”

People can see the nominees and vote for an American Humane Hero Dog Award at herodogawards.org/vote.

Sunday’s Puppy Bowl XIV will feature dogs left homeless by hurricanes

tylerThis Sunday’s Puppy Bowl will feature adoptable dogs who were left homeless by natural disasters.

This year, Animal Planet is featuring pups rescued from areas that were devastated by natural disasters last year in Houston, Puerto Rico, Florida, and Mexico.

The network worked with 48 different animal shelters and rescue organizations from 26 U.S. states in putting together the teams for this year’s big game, which will feature the most pups in Puppy Bowl history.

About half of them were victims of hurricanes and other natural disasters who ended up in shelters and rescues — like Tyler (above), who was left homeless by Hurricane Harvey.

Puppy Bowl XIV will air on Animal Planet at 3 p.m. Sunday.

It will also include some special need dogs, like Ryder, a sight-impaired husky; Chance, a deaf dalmatian; Moonshine, a sight-impaired and deaf border collie; and Luna, a Pomeranian mix with a cleft palate.

On Saturday at 8 p.m., Animal Planet will air its first Dog Bowl, featuring more mature dogs in need of homes.

You can learn more about the program, view starting lineups at the Animal Planet website.

Judge allows sorority sister to keep the dog that helps her with panic attacks

entine-and-coryA judge has decided that a dog who helps a sorority sister get through anxiety attacks can remain in the Chi Omega house at Ohio State University — at least for now.

U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley on Friday granted a preliminary injunction to prohibit the university from banning the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, named Cory, from the house on the grounds that the dog was creating health problems for another sorority member.

The preliminary injunction will stay in effect until the case goes to trial, at a yet to be determined date, according to the Columbus Dispatch

Sorority vice president Madeleine Entine petitioned the court after being informed that Cory had to leave the house because he aggravated another sorority sister’s allergies and triggered her Crohn’s disease.

Given that, in the university’s view, both students were protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act, the university based the decision on the fact that the other student, Carly Goldman, had reserved her room in the sorority house first.

The judge, in granting the injunction, said that while Entine’s attorneys presented evidence that she had ADA protection, Goldman’s attorneys had not.

The judge said the university “did not even establish that it was Cory who aggravated the symptoms of Goldman’s disability.”

“Under clearly established law, Entine and Cory prevail,” Marbley wrote in a 21-page opinion.

Entine, a second-year undergraduate at Ohio State, has been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. She has panic attacks that leave her gasping for air and at times immobile.

Goldman says she is allergic to the dog and that those allergies aggravate her Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel ailment. Attempts to sequester the dog brought her no relief.

“This case is about a thorny and largely unmapped legal issue: how the University should reconcile the needs of two disabled students whose reasonable accommodations are (allegedly) fundamentally at odds,” Marbley wrote.

While he said he sympathized with Goldman’s condition, he wrote, “While the Court does not intend to minimize the difficulty Goldman faces by living with Crohn’s disease, allergies and asthma, she has simply not established that it is Cory’s presence that causes her harm.”

Dueling disabilities at Chi Omega

541878_521680384529713_204742216_nA dog that helps a sorority sister at Ohio State University through debilitating panic attacks is causing another sister debilitating allergy attacks.

Apparently unable to work it out between themselves, or put it to a vote among the sisters, the matter of who must exit the Chi Omega house is now in the hands of a federal judge.

Madeline Entine, a second-year undergrad, obtained a temporary restraining order Oct. 26 against the university after it decided that Cory, Entine’s assistance animal, needed to move out of the Chi Omega sorority house.

A federal judge heard arguments in the case last week and said he would decide this week whether to issue a permanent injunction against Ohio State, allowing Entine and her 8-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel to stay at the sorority house.

Entine sued under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

But, as the university sees it, that act applies to Chi Omega sister Carly Goldman, as well.

Goldman says she is allergic to the dog and that those allergies aggravate her Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel ailment.

Goldman said that when she returned to the sorority house in August, her allergies flared, leading to digestive issues.

Entine says she suffers from panic attacks severe enough to restrict her breathing, cause her to hyperventilate and render her immobile.

Her dog Cory is trained to react to her condition by climbing onto her torso.

Although the dog isn’t allowed on the second floor, where Goldman stays, his hair or dander can still end up there, Goldman testified in a hearing on Entine’s request for a permanent injunction.

Cory rested in Entine’s lap while she watched Goldman’s testimony last week, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

L. Scott Lissner, the university’s ADA coordinator, said the university decided that, since both students are protected by the act, Goldman should be given priority because she signed up for her room first.

He said the university offered to move Entine and Cory to other university housing, but she declined.

Entine is a Chi Omega chapter vice president, which requires her to live in the house, she says.

U.S District Judge Algenon L. Marbley is expected to rule on Entine’s injunction request this week.

(Photo: Entine and Cory, from Madeline Entine’s Facebook page)

It’s my gun show and I’ll cry if I want to


Let’s all join together in a giant boo-hoo for Thomas Allman, who says his health was put at risk when a service dog entered his gun show over the weekend.

Allman kicked out the dog — and the Bronze Star-winning veteran the dog accompanied (that’s them above) — saying the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) didn’t apply to them at his gun show. He explained his reasoning this way:

“It doesn’t apply because he’s not setting up at my gun show because we don’t allow dogs in my gun show,” he told Fox 14 News. (Click the link for video.)

The nerve of that veteran! Thinking he could just waltz into a gun show and put everyone else’s health at risk with a dog that helps him cope with injuries he received during his nearly 20 years of service in Iraq.

Did he give any thought that his actions could result in sneezes and stuffy noses among anyone who was allergic (like Allman) as they innocently shopped for new deadly weapons to add to their home arsenals?

Former U.S. Army Sergeant John Williams went to the Tri-State Gun Show at the armory in Evansville on Saturday as a vendor, but he was asked to leave because of his service dog, Winchester.

Williams, appropriately, raised a stink, and called the police, waiting outside for them to arrive and hear his complaint that his rights, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, were being violated.

Winchester was assigned to Williams by the Soldier Dogs for Independence group to help him with mobility.

The president of that group Michael Barrentine, was called to the gun show once he heard what was going on.

“There’s so much irony,” he said. “You have a 21 year veteran of the United States armed forces that’s disabled due to his military service that’s getting kicked out of the armory …”

Williams says he is still contemplating filing charges.

Thomas Allman stages several guns shows a year in Indiana (and whatever other two states comprise the “tri-state” area), allowing folks to show off, buy, sell and trade guns.

Something less than full scrutiny, apparently, is applied to those buying them: “They’ll ask them if they’re a felon or not and all we can do is take their word that they’re not,” Allman once said in a TV interview.

Allman is all for nurturing an environment in which guns can be freely sold and exchanged — something he says is necessary in today’s world.

“What would you do if ISIS came to your door today and you didn’t have any way of protecting yourself? They will come here. They’re coming folks so you better be prepared for them.”

So feel free to bring your guns to the show (unloaded please, he asks). Just don’t bring a dog.

Allman says dogs haven’t been allowed to sit at booths at his shows for the last 20 years. Apparently, he considers it OK for paid guests to bring service dogs, but not vendors (who pay a $50 registration fee).

“You want to come in the gun show and sell your guns, or walk around and look and trade guns with your service dog, we have no problem with that,” Allman said.

Under the ADA, “Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals.”

Allman is allergic to dogs — “I can’t stand to be sick and be put in the hospital” — and apparently gets a little anxious when they are around, as he also does amid talk of laws restricting gun sales.

ftwaynegunshow“Just cause they don’t want one, what’s the right to take anybody else’s away from them?” Allman said in a 2015 interview. “That’s my problem with it and I can’t handle that… This is what we do for a living and have a hobby of doing it and love doing it. It’s freedom. We’re in the United States. It’s freedom.”

Apparently, as he sees it, he’s the one who gets to define freedom. So his shows don’t allow cameras or news media past the entrance, don’t allow service dogs, and insist you don’t enter with a loaded weapon.

(That didn’t stop a visitor, and a drunken one at that, from loading up his .45 caliber handgun after he entered, firing it and injuring a a 72-year-old man and 16-year-old boy during the 2011 show in Evansville.)

We’d suggest that if Allman can’t handle service dogs, he stop holding public gun shows, or hire a representative to oversee them, or take a Zyrtec, or conduct his arms dealing online.

(Photos: At top, Williams and his dog, Winchester, WFIE; at bottom a photo taken at a gun show in Ft. Wayne)

“They were the best person for the job”

A home improvement store says a disabled vet and his service dog were “the best person for the job.”

So now you can find them, in matching employee vests, helping customers at the Lowe’s in Abilene.

Clay Luthy says he has had Charlotte since she was a puppy.

texas-lowes-dog“She was never supposed to be a service dog. I found out a couple years ago she was alerting me and I didn’t even know it,” said Luthy, who always has Charlotte at his side at work.

“I was trying to figure out where I could go that would be a good fit and it wouldn’t mind having Charlotte, and my wife said I was at Lowe’s so much anyway, I might as well get a job there,” he told KIDY.

“We knew he was gonna make a great employee – we just got the benefit of getting Charlotte right along with him,” said Jay Fellers, Lowe’s human resources manager.

The duo has been getting some news coverage since Judy Dechert Rose, a customer at Lowe’s, posted the image online last week:

“This is a retired vet who struggled to get a job because he needs his service dog! Lowes hired them BOTH!!” she wrote.

Luthy, who served in the Air Force, said he was surprised when it went viral.

“By the time I looked at it, there was 1,000 comments on it. Oh my gosh, it was ridiculous,” he said.

It wasn’t the first Lowe’s to hire an employee AND his service dog.

Back in June, a Lowe’s in Saskatchewan was in the news for hiring Owen Lima and his dog Blue.

(Photo: Facebook)

How many ways can we say helper?


Ahhh, words. They can be almost as fun to play with as dogs — and that’s just the beginning of what words and dogs have in common.

Words, like dogs, can be used to befriend, repel or attack, depending on the person behind them. Both can inform us, frustrate us, console, entertain and enthrall us. Words, like dogs, can bite or soothe. Both need to be used responsibly.

And, given we humans created both of them, it is up to us to safeguard them and, once in a while, stand up for them — as in, for example, when they are being abused.

Generally, both words and dogs are at their best when they are unrestrained.

And yet sometimes they need to be restrained.

And yet too much restraint can make them dull and lifeless, sucking out all their natural spirit and joy.

It’s not this week’s presidential debate that’s sending me off on this wordy tangent. It’s the word “facility,” and the growing use of the term “facility dog.”

In a post last week, I lauded the University of Southern California’s decision to add a “facility dog” to the staff of its student health center — but I poked a little fun at the term.

“Facility dog” is a cold, undescriptive and institutional-sounding label, in my view, that just doesn’t go with the goldendoodle’s playful given name, Professor Beauregard Tirebiter.

Beauregard is trained as a therapy dog. Calling him a “facility dog” — no matter the reason behind it — disguises that fact. Words are supposed to clarify, not obfuscate.

I don’t like the idea of labeling a dog based on the building in which he works, as opposed to the noble work he is doing.

But, most of all, I just don’t like the word “facility.”

USC didn’t come up with the term “facility dog;” it is being used increasingly to describe a dog — generally a therapy dog — that is based in a particular hospital, nursing home, school, prison, mental institution or other … well, facility.

emotionalIn journalism school, I was taught not to use the word “facility,” because its meaning is so vague and the mere sight of it tends to put people to sleep.

But it’s also, in its vagueness, a safe word — the kind bureaucracies like, not just for their political correctness, but because it lets them avoid plain talk, clarity and specificity.

“Facility dog is an official certification as designated by Canine Angels Service Teams,” reads a comment sent into ohmidog! from someone at USC’s health center, in response to the post.

“While his credential is ‘Facility Dog,’ the University of Southern California has given him the title ‘Wellness Dog’ as his intended purpose is to enhance the wellness of students on campus.

“He does not work in a therapy/counseling setting, but rather as a staff member in the Office for Wellness and Health Promotion. As such, he is not a pet and does not violate the USC policy referenced in the article.”

(I pointed out in my post that USC has a no-pets policy, only to suggest that maybe it’s time — given all dogs do for us, given “wellness” should be achieved campus-wide as opposed to just at the Student Health Center, given all dogs, in a way, are “wellness dogs” — to give those antiquated rules another look.)

I almost hate to say it, but I’m not too keen on “wellness dog,” either. It, too, is vague and touchy-feely and fails to describe the work Beau is doing.

But it’s a little better than “facility dog.”

“Facility dog” makes it sound like Beau is manning the boilers. “Wellness dog” makes it sound like he’s dispensing medication, taking blood pressure and giving nutritional advice.

Google the term “wellness dog” now and you get links mostly to the dog food that uses that name, or pet insurance companies only to happy to provide your dog a “wellness plan.”

But “wellness dog” will surely join the ranks of terms used to describe dogs that are trained to help us humans cope.

There are already enough of those terms to thoroughly confuse the public —
service dogs, assistance dogs, therapy dogs, emotional support dogs, comfort dogs, bomb-sniffing dogs and seizure dogs — and my personal favorite “companion animal.”

“Companion animal” is what we used to call a pet. As in:

“Hi, I’m John and this is my dog, Bowser. Do you mind if we use the facilities?”

“You are welcome here, just make sure your companion animal uses the fecal matter containment system.”

“You mean a poop bag?”

“We try not to use that term.”

The surplus of terminology for dogs who help us is first and foremost a reflection of just how incredibly much dogs help us — with disabilities, with illnesses that range from diabetes to epilepsy to PTSD, and with all the other obstacles, fears and anxieties that get in our way.

Those distinctions become important because different dogs, depending on their label, have different rights.

service-dog1Under the legal definition, service dogs are those trained to perform tasks for an individual with a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or mental disability.

A service animal is entitled to accompany that person anywhere members of the public are allowed.

Emotional support dogs, comfort dogs and therapy dogs are not service animals under Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Assistance dog” is a catch all term to describe them all, and is not a legal category.

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need all those distinctions — and any dog that is helping a person cope would be allowed to accompany that human to a restaurant, workplace, etc.

But, in an ideal world, the word “facility” wouldn’t exist, either.

Canine Angels, the outfit that provided Beauregard to the university, says on its website that it trains and provides service dogs, “social dogs” and “facility dogs.”

It defines facility dogs as those that “are placed with teachers and health care/rehabilitation professionals whose clients/students can benefit from the therapeutic qualities that a well-trained dog can offer. These dogs can provide emotional and unconditional support and can be used by their handlers to motivate and reward clients/students. Facility Dogs live with their handlers and are only allowed public access to the specific facility at which their handler is employed.”

Sometimes, those handlers are called … wait for it … facilitators.

I doubt that there is any significant difference between what a therapy dog is trained to do and what a facility dog is trained to do. Similarly, I’d go out on a limb and say a “wellness dog” and a therapy dog likely receive identical training.

Therapy dog is a perfectly fine term, and there’s no need to put a mask on it.

When a university decides it wants to have a writer on campus, allowing him or her to pursue their mission while their brilliance rubs off on the student body, they call him or her “writer-in-residence,” not “facility writer.”

Dogs deserve at least that much respect.