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
This irrepressible boxer, known as Duncan Lou Who, took his first trip to the beach last month, where he demonstrated that having only two legs in no way limits him, or the fun that is to be had.
That’s the thing about beaches, and about dogs — the beach leads our souls to consider the possibilities; dogs show us, with persistence, we can reach them.
Duncan Lou Who, now nine months old, was born with severely deformed rear legs that had to be removed. He learned to walk with a specialized wheelchair, but didn’t think much of the device, and now no longer requires it — as you can see here.
The clip was uploaded to YouTube March 22, and it has been viewed more than 2 million times.
According to Panda Paws Rescue, a nonprofit in Vancouver, Washington, Duncan has seemed a happier little dude since he has learned to get about on his own.
Duncan is in fairly good health, but is not up for adoption. Nor is he likely to be equipped with prosthetic devices.
“He is not a candidate for prosthetics because he doesn’t have a femur to attach them to, and we will not use him for experiments to try and find something else to [sic] could do more harm than good,” Panda Paws Rescue wrote.
“He is lean, yes. He is a Boxer puppy who is missing almost a 1/4 of his body and uses twice the energy of a 4 legged dog. The rear half of his body has atrophied as well, from lack of use. He is on the best possible diet and his weight is monitored.”
You can learn more about Duncan on Panda Paws Facebook page.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 2nd, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, beach, birth defect, boxer, deformity, disabilities, disability, dog, dogs, duncan, duncan lou who, first, inspiration, legs, no rear legs, panda paws, panda paws rescue, pets, puppy, rescue, two legger, two-legged, vancouver, video, visit, washington
Among the dogs we met in Charlotte during our visit to The Dog Bar, were Skyler and Pierce, two white Great Danes who — one being half blind, one being deaf, neither having the distinct black markings harlequin Great Danes are supposed to have — were headed to the kind of future “defective” dogs often face.
Namely, no future at all.
They were part of a larger litter that turned out to be unprofitable. All the pups were affected by a strain of distemper — but because of their additional handicaps, Skyler and Pierce, the breeder decided, couldn’t even be given away, and therefore should be put down.
That’s when Laura Moss and Fred Metzler stepped in. Laura was working at an animal emergency clinic at the time. The litter of Great Danes ended up there. She already had three dogs at home, so she asked Fred, her friend of several years, to adopt the two future-less siblings.
Fred, a sales manager for a company that makes automatic doors, agreed. But, because he traveled a lot, he often called upon Laura to pet sit the duo — Skyler, the deaf one, and Pierce, the blind one — when he was out of town.
At Fred’s house, Laura noticed, the two pups — as they did at the hospital — continued to stay at each others’ sides. When they went to sleep, Skyler would lay her head on top of Pierce.
“That way, if he hears something, he’ll react. Then she’ll be the police dog and go check it out. They’ve been that way since they were babies,” Laura said. “There’s no way we could separate them.”
Skyler, named for her sky blue eyes, is 106 pounds; Pierce, named, for his handsomeness, after actor Pierce Brosnan, is 175 pounds. Despite their handicaps, they manage, with help from each other, to do all that dogs do.
Fred and Laura have come up with a system of sign language to communicate with Skyler, including more than 20 commands. The two dogs have become a striking and familiar sight in Charlotte’s NoDa neighborhood. They even march in the local St. Patrick’s Day parade.
And they get along fine with Laura’s other dogs — a miniature pinscher named Jade, a Boston terrier named Halley and a dalmatian named Dax, who she also brought home from the animal hospital. His former owner dropped him off and, once learning he had heartworm, never picked him up.
Since she talked him into adopting the dogs, Laura and Fred have become a couple, and now share a residence with all five of their dogs.
Laura doesn’t give the Great Danes full credit for bringing two humans together — but maybe, on some level, the relationship between the two big white dogs represents a lesson to be learned: Having someone in your life you can turn to, and depend on, and whose strengths can compliment your weaknesses, has its advantages.
Or maybe that’s reading too much into it.
“The friendship is what brought us together,” Laura says, “but the Great Danes didn’t hurt.”
Posted by John Woestendiek August 20th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, animals, blind, breeders, charlotte, deaf, dependence, disabilities, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, fred metzler, great danes, handicaps, harlequin, laura moss, noda, pets, pierce, relationships, rescue, rescued, road trip, sign language, skyler, the dog bar, travel, traveling with dogs, white