Monday, May 23, 2011

A Month of Movies: Wretches & Jabbers along with Sprout Film Festival

I love movies as people who knows me will heartily agree. One thing I especially love about movies seeing my experiences and the experiences of my fellow members of the global cross disability portrayed with the full breadth and depth of the human experience that it is on screen. What does this have to do with service dogs you ask? Well, my town participated in 100 cities.One night for Autism.I was ecstatic for two reasons:
1) I have always considered myself a part of the global cross disability and know that the only way things will truly improve for people with disabilities in meaningful in lasting ways is we as people with disabilities come together in common goals and understanding for the better-meant of everyone's life.
2) This was my first Sensory Friendly public film viewing of Wretches & Jabbers. A Sensory Friendly Film viewing is one where the movie goer does not have to endure the often painful sensory overload that today's movie house experience can be. At a Sensory Friendly showing the sound is at a normal level instead of the usual bone rattling decibels, the lights are lowered but not completely off, people may laugh, get up and move around, and speak if necessary without fear of being summarily thrown out of the theater for disturbing others.  I, for one, will attending many, many more sensory friendly films with my favorite movie watching companion, my service dog Shilo. At this showing I did not have to worry if the accessible seat were also right in the line of the speakers or the doors. With the sound at a decent volume and the lights up neither Shilo or I had to worry about being blasted out of our seats or stepped on/ jostled by other patrons coming and going who did not see use and tripped on us or bumped into one of us! I highly recommend sensory friendly film showings to everyone!

We also were especially lucky to have our town be a stop on the tour of the Sprout Film Festival again this year! Last year I inadvertently missed it and this year I was determined to go and I am so glad I did!As many of my readers know, I am a person living with cerebral palsy which is a developmental disability along with others like autism spectrum disorders, down syndrome, angelman's sydrome, fragile X, and many more; so, I was thrilled to hear that artists and every day people with developmental disabilities were making films of all sorts be they documentaries,  music videos, shorts, or animated that show people with developmental disabilities as the complex human beings were are with all the hopes, dreams, goals desires and talents as any person not living with a disability.  The selections for the matinee showing were funny, real, thought provoking, beautiful, and full of true talent. In the words of Anthony Di Salvo, founder of the Sprout Film Festival, who hosted out tour stop,
"The days of it being acceptable for a non-disabled actor to portray a character with a disability are over. Just as the day has passed where it was acceptable for a person not of a race or ethic group to portray a character representing  that experience has gone by; so, too, have the days of characters with disability being played by able bodied actors. There are plenty of talented actors and performers with disabilities to fill these roles!"

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bark in the Park: A tail waggin' time with treats!

Melissa, Shilo, Leslie, and Cammy going though the information booths.
 Bark in the Park was a blast! While the final numbers both people and dogs participating and how much money was raised in total is still being totaled; the members of Willamette Valley Assistance Dog Club raised $345 for Greenhill.

Besides a nice 2k walk on a lovely Sunday morning. The dogs also got to try their paw at agility thanks to the members of Willamette Agility Group (WAG); get tons of treats, and learn about the dog blood bank. 

Willamette Valley Assistance Dog Club Team walks 2k to support Greenhill Humane Society

Thursday, May 19, 2011

News: FDA Recalls Pig Ears Dog Treats

Keys Manufacturing Company, Inc. Recalls Pig Ears for Pet Treats Because Of Possible Salmonella Health Risk


Media Contact
Dan Curry
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - May 3, 2011 - Keys Manufacturing Company, Inc. of Paris, IL is recalling Pig Ears for Pet Treats because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Salmonella can affect animals and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products. People handling dry pet food and/or treats can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the chews or any surfaces exposed to these products.
Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.
Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.
Pig Ears for Pet Treats was distributed via truck to distributors in the following states: Pennsylvania, Virginia, Missouri, Iowa, Ohio, Illinois, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Texas and Minnesota.
The product was distributed in 100 count cases packed in cardboard boxes shipped between Sept. 27-Oct. 6, 2010; Nov. 1-Nov. 29, 2010; and Jan. 3-Jan. 25, 2011.
One illness to a dog in Missouri has been reported to date.
The recall is a result of a reported illness by a dog in Missouri. Subsequently, the company has been working with the FDA to identify any products that might contain the bacteria and the company and the FDA is continuing the investigation to determine what caused the problem.
Consumers who have purchased Pig Ears for Pet Treats are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-217-465-4001.

News: China start a Hearing dog program

Sunday marks Help-the-Disabled Day in China. The day aims to raise awareness of the plight faced by the country's 80 million people living with disabilities. The deaf and people with impaired hearing account for about a quarter of this figure.

To mark the day, Beijing established its first hearing dog training center. The trained canines alert their owners to important sounds, such as doorbells, smoke alarms and ringing telephones. Hearing dogs provide a vital service by barking or physically leading their owners away from danger, for instance in the case of a ringing fire alarm. After alerting their owners, dogs are rewarded by being given a treat. The dogs can be trained in as little as three months. Watch the news story in English with more detail

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Internet in an Uproar over Service Dog Fraud

Service dog fraud is becoming a bigger problem

Service dogs are invaluable companions to people with disabilities.  These trained animals guide blind people across the street, keep children with autism from wandering away, help provide support for those with problems walking, etc. But according to this article from The Seattle Times more and more pet owners are committing service dog fraud.  These owners are buying certificates, vests and identification numbers online so that their dogs can accompany them into public places such as stores and restaurants, travel with them free on planes, trains or buses or live in restricted housing. Read more

News, Information and Ideas on how to deal with hearing loss in a hearing world. Plus a few other topics!

Article in USA Today on 'Fake' Service Dogs

Believe it or not, this is becoming a real problem!  I've written other articles on this and even gotten some emails from readers with service dogs asking me to take them down due to their not agreeing with my opinions.  But, the fact is, there are people out there that are taking advantage of the laws/rules for those with true needs for a genuine service dog.
Unfortunately, the ADA law states that a business owner cannot question or require proof that a dog is really a service dog.  It's against the law.  So, the ones that are perpetuating this fraud are getting by with it all in the name of keeping their little darling with them where ever they choose to go.  Until the websites that sell these service dog vests start doing the right thing and require some sort of proof that the dog really is a service dog, the fraud will continue. Read More

Is That a Real Hearing Dog?

Abuse of the Americans with Disabilities Act provisions concerning service dogs is increasing. People are buying fake service dog vests and certifications, and insisting on the right to take their non-service dog pets into stores et al with them. The Department of Justice recently updated Title II regulations on service animals to say that a public entity may ask just two questions regarding service animals: is it needed for a disability and what does the dog do? Documentation is not required.
In my opinion, that makes it rather easy for people who want to pass off their pets as service dogs, to lie. If I am interpreting the DOJ language correctly, it means that all a hearing person has to do is say "My dog is a hearing dog. My dog alerts me to noises that I can not hear." Behavior is apparently the only clue that a dog is or is not a service dog. Real trained service dogs know how to behave.Read More
They’re the ire of legitimate service dog owners and they’re also guilty of fraud.

Pet Owners Who Skirt Rules With Fake Service Dogs Are Committing Fraud

 They’re pet owners who pass their animals off as service dogs by using phony credentials which in turn allows their pets to live in restricted housing, accompany them inside restaurants and hotels or fly for free in airplane cabins rather than in cargo holds
“I don’t want to say it’s a scam, but it is a scam,” said Nick Kutsukos, 72, who runs Elite K9 Academy in Jupiter, Fla., and has trained service dogs for 40 years.Read more



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Commentary on Autism Tether or Anchor Dog Video

This video is of a dog being trained to work as a tether or anchor dog for a child with autism. The video shows many red flags about this type of training, and sadly none of the adults in the background of the video do anything more than laugh at the child's mounting frustration and nothing to assist the dog.There are several very scary points where I was afraid for the safety of the child and the dog. I will go through what I see by time stamp of when it happens on the video. The reader will see there are many missed teaching opportunities for both child and dog through the video.Service dogs and children are a tricky combination that can work when the needs of both the child and the dog are addressed. If partnerships are to hold up in the long run, it is important that the child see the dog as his friend not anther thing to fight in frustration against.

0:15 -Child who is purposely leaning with his weight against his harness and the dog's harness causing the harness to twist and pull on the dog. This is a growing child imagine what will happen as the child grows, the dog ages and this behavior continues. Just because a dog's has fur and thicker skin than a human does not mean the dog does not feel the harness strapping pull or become bruised by the heavy pressure on the strapping. The child, too, must endure the pull and weight of a full grown dog around its tiny waist.
0:25- Child is at the end of the tether pulling and looking away from the whole situation behind him.The dog is looking away from the child and the training. For dogs averting one's gaze is a method of showing and diffusing stress. Signs of Stress Checklist A dogs may also attempt to use a section of canine body language called Calming Signals to diffuse a stressful situation. Learn about dog body language 
"Just 'cause the dog isn't moving doesn't mean he's calm. Just cause the dog isn't biting you doesn't mean he likes you"-From Jean Donaldson, renowned trainer and dog behaviorist in the dog body language video.
The trainer is this shot is not interacting with the dog in any way for holding its down under such pressure i.e. no verbal praise, no physical praise (petting), or coming closer to the dog so it feels supported by the trainer.
0:31- Child is leaning against the dog and pulling on the tether with such force the the dog's neck skin is being forced up and forward by the harness. The dog is digging it's nails in an attempt to stay put as its trainer asks while displaying three common signs of stress in dogs panting, squinting eyes, sideways or "owl ears".
0:42- Again, the child is at the end of the tether making it all but impossible for the dog to lie down as it has been cued because the harness is pulling so hard. Again, imagine what this type of pressure is doing to both the dog and the child's bodies at the harness points.
0:48- The Child has finally moved into the same space as the dog and is attempting to interact with it by pointing and asking it to go forward. The dog puts its head lower, with sideways ears unsure and looks at the trainer for what to do. How is a dog that is trained not to respond to the child's requests ever going to develop a good relationship with the child? Why would a child want to continue to interact with and share space with an animal the will not respond to them? Interaction/response/feedback to and from child and dog are cornerstones of relationship build between any dog/human pair. You throw ball, dog fetches it and bring it back, you throw ball again. You talk to dog, dog comes toward you. You scratch a good spot, dog moves closer for more.
1:08-1:40 Child begins to wander forward and the trainer cues the dog to stop and lie down. As the down turns to lie down, it immediately begins giving stress signals flattening its ears,  licking the end of its nose, and refusing to follow the cue. The trainer steps forward to issue the dog a correction on its pronged collar and get the dog to lie down. In the meantime the child had time to step back into the shared space with the dog; however, the trainer is still working on getting the dog to lie down so no one takes the opportunity to reward the child for coming back to be with the dog by allowing the child to continue "walking the dog". Instead the child becomes bored waiting and begins, again to pull at the tether with all his weight and strength. This not work so the child takes hold of the tether and wraps it around him self as he pulls for more leverage.The dog makes a valiant effort to stay put as his trainer wants and pants with stress.Again, the dog is released to get up while the child is still pulling against the harness, a missed opportunity to teach both child and dog that a slack comfortable tether will allow them to walk on.
1:48-1:59- The trainer once again cues the dog to stop and down. The dog is hesitant and the trainer is so focused on making the dog do it that another opportunity to praise the child for turning and patiently waiting for their new friend is missed. Another opportunity to build a cooperative partnership and bond between child and dog is missed. So, again the child takes a step to the side and begins pulling an the tether lead and the dogs harness.
2:01- 2:06- Both the child and the dog are showing sign of discomfort.the child readjusting the belt on their waist and the dog gives a jaw popping stress yawn.
2:34-2:36 -Child is forcing their way forward dragging the dog that is being held back by the trainers leash attached to its pronged collar. No opportunity it taken to stop the dog at the pulling or address the child that it should slow down and wait for the dog. These are opportunities that could be used to build trust and cooperation between the boy and the dog rather that the adversarial relationship that is shown. Children with autism are not uncaring as some seem to believe. They can learn and respond to feedback. This child is clearly engaged at points yet the opportunities allowed to pass with no engagement of the child.
2:48- 3:02The child is again upset the dog has stopped and is pulling at the tether with such force the dog's harness is coming up off of the dog's back while dogs displays the stress signals of panting, squinting eyes and flat ears. As the dog does not respond the pulling the child continues pulling and bouncing against the tether, begins to fuss and whine (all the while adults in the background are laughing). he comes to the side of the dog and hits it with his hand on the way around. No one address the child about not pulling on the dog like that, or when he hits the dog. The only tell the child "He's gonna get up when Jen tell him too."  More opportunities to create that companionship gone by the way side, sadly. The child is powerless to affect his environment in this situation and so is the dog.
3:04-3:06 Finally! The dog and child are walking along. The child is talking to the dog and pointing saying "Let's go right there Caleb." The dog in response turn to look at the child and moves closer. This get a hearty "Good Boy Caleb!" from the trainer in the background. Instances like this are far too few for both dog and child in this video. Will we see more like this?I hope so.
3:07-3:11 in the video the child begins to pull away from the dog again, but no one takes to the child. Instead, the say in the back ground "Go ahead slow him down." then you see the dog, Caleb turn and pull as he hears the cue "Caleb, down!" as the child whines and pulls away more. The child cries and says what sounds like "No, come to me." Caleb is unsure. He hears the corection  "No,down!" from the trainer sits and lets off a full mouth stress yawn followed by panting. No adults are addressing eith the child's stress or the dog's at this time.
3:12-3:21 The child gives up on trying to communicate with the dog and goes to negotiate with the adult in the background. Again no attempt is made to communicate with the child about why they were made to stop walking and how he could avoid being forced to stop so much in the future. The Child says "why mom" and points at the dog that is now in a down clearly wanting to know why the dog stopped. The adult responds simply, "It's okay, bud, we're going." She never answered the child's question though. The child continues moving at the end of the tether, pulling on the dog while negotiating with the adult to "walk faster" while pointing forward. No one is address the dog at all with any kind of attention for holding its down during all of this. The dog is a non-player at the goal in going forward for the child at this point. The dog could be a monster truck tire at this point and the goal of keeping the child there would be accomplished just the same.
3:22-3:26 The adult in the background is telling the child "it's okay, when aunt Jen tells Caleb, we'll go." Meanwhile, the dog perks up to listen to another dog barking in the background. Another missed opportunity to engage the child about why Caleb stopped, what Caleb does to keep himself from getting bored while waiting. Instead, we again tell the child he is powerless to change the situation no matter his behavior or who he talks to. 
3:30-3:52 Child and dog are allowed to start walking again and as soon as they take of the child and dog begin a tug of war through the tether forcing each other the this way and that. The is constantly correct for pulling or going too fast, but no adult address the same behaviors in the child at all. The adversarial nature of this relationships lives on. No one is encouraging the child to interact with or talk to the dog as they walk showing the child that keeping the tether loose and listening to mom or dad's directions means that he and Caleb can keep going and enjoy their walk.Service dogs need feedback from the person they are with if they are going to have a lasting bond and drive to be with them. Children and handlers of any age need to see their service dogs as a help, not a constant frustration if the partners is to last as well.
3:59-4:02 Caleb and the child are walking along side by side with the child happily chattering away at the dog. At the that point Caleb is simultaneously admonished with an"Easy!" and a hearty "Good Boy! " from the trainer. Again no one address the child's good behavior at all or takes the opportunity to engage him and ask what he and Caleb are discussing so intently.
4:18-4:20- Caleb becomes distracted by something in the environment and pull hard left to investigate  eliciting a surprise "whoa!" from the boy as he is know off balance a bit. Good thing the dog stopped. That pavement would made for a nasty fall, since the harness means the child cannot let go.Dogs, even well trained ones, are still dogs and will respond to things they find interesting.
4:30-4:35 Again Caleb is told to stop and down amid the frustrated and confuse cries of the child. The is still not told why the dog stopped. Another teaching moment passed for the child and his frustration left unaddressed.
4:38- 4:44-You hear a male voice in the background say "I think that I'm we didn't go with that harness idea, because I think that it would have been such a high center of gravity it would have pitched the kids over." This quote show they recognize that the dog and tether connection can pose a danger to the child.
4:45-5:01 Caleb takes off fast and begins to drag the child garnering uncomfortable squeals from the child and hurries admonishments from the trainer to "easy, easy!" No adult is connect to the dog by leash at this point. I was scared the dog might choose not to stop dragging the child with them.The child, upset, begins to reign the dog in by the tether pulling and jerking with visible force on the harness. The dog is confused and looking for it's trainer who tells hims to "sit".No one is addressing the child at all who is now frustrated again at having to stop for some reason. A man in the background address the child finally saying "I know, it's horrible isn't it.?" Again pitting dog and child as adversaries in this tug of war rather than the friends helping each other they could be.
5:03-5:29 The Child's frustration boils over to out of control because Caleb will not move. He cries, screams and pulls with such force and might I am terrified as I watch the whole harness begin to come up and over the dog's head and shoulders! Will they be able to catch this child if he succeeds in pulling the harness off the dog?What will the do if he does get lose,send the dog to chase him down and tackle him? I am an adult and I love dogs, yet I would be terrified if a big dog like this was running me down. I could only imagine how scared a child would be and this is a dog they have to live with. The mom and the child fight over the dog with the mom trying to get the dog down and the child pulling saying "mine, mine" over and over. No one attempt to talk to the clearly frustrated child at all. The trainer is in the background with a worried tone saying" Oh! He's testing the equipment. He's testing the equipment."
5:29-5:46 There is an obvious edit jump in the video and the last 15 second of the video are of the dog and child walking along beautifully and again no adults have a word of praise for either team member on this great behavior.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Shilo Shines in More Than Disability Video

Shilo and I recently assisted a UO Journalism student with a class project.  The video Shilo and I working together.
More than a Disability from Ethos Magazine on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

News: National Association of Guide Dog Association Launches Innovative Hotline

The National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU), has launched an
innovative new service. The NAGDU Education & Advocacy Hotline not only offers
information about the legal rights of individuals who use service animals, it
offers the option to speak with an advocate who is trained to resolve access
denials. According to the new federal guidelines that took effect on March 15,
2011, a service animal is "any dog that is individually trained to do work or
perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability" (28 CFR Part
35.104 & 28 CFR Part 36.104). The new regulations specifically state, "Other
of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service
animals for the purposes of this definition." In an effort to Further clarify
its intent, the Department of Justice specifically states, "The crime deterrent
effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support,
well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the
purposes of this definition."
"We find that most access problems are the result of a lack of
information," says Michael Hingson, the Association's vice president, who serves
as project manager for the hotline. "This hotline is an excellent resource for
accurate information."
The NAGDU Education & Advocacy Hotline currently offers general
information about service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA), as well as specific guidance concerning restaurants, taxicabs, and health
care facilities. Callers needing immediate assistance can connect directly to a
live trained advocate. Future plans for the hotline include
summaries of each of the state laws concerning service animals, more
industry-specific information, and guidance in a variety of languages, such as
Mandarin and Arabic. The hotline is available anytime by calling, toll- free,
(866) - 972 - 3647.

News: Service Dogs Teach Educators About Disabilities

May 14, 2011
Many disabled people say that life without their service animals is unthinkable. And while public institutions are required to admit service animals without question, some public schools claim they cannot handle the disruption of a dog in a busy classroom.
Disabled students are hoping new federal guidelines will help them avoid legal battles over their animals.Read More or Listen to Story

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

News: Service Dogs Under Protection?

By Gia Vang

EUGENE, Ore. -- When a service dog is injured by a dangerous dog, the City of Eugene doesn't do much about it. But that could soon change after the City Council takes up the existing animal code on Monday.

The current ordinance doesn't distinguish service dogs from other breeds.

So, if service dogs get hurt by another dog, staff say they're not as protected as they should be.Read More

Monday, May 9, 2011

Shilo does Bark in the Park 2011

Shilo, a rescued dog running to raise funds for pets still waiting to be rescued at Greenhill Humane Society! In a week of fundraising, we have raised $190.60! All the money raised is going to care for homeless pets. Find out out more about Bark in the Park and make a Donation Today!