Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Smarter Than the Average Bear

Okay I know these dogs are smart, but I think I just found out how smart. I'm reading a book called "The Genius of Dogs" and know there are dogs out there that have incredible vocabularies. I haven't deliberately worked on vocab with Ekko but have referred to his pig when he plays with it, or his lamb or other toys.

So last night I told Ekko to go get his pig. He gave me the incredulous poodle look. Okay, go get your lamb then. Same thing. Okay, what about your Wubba (a type of toy put up by Kong)? Same thing. So I went back to reading.

I vaguely noticed the dog got up and left the room and come back a couple of times, then he sat in front of me and hit me with his paw. At my feet? Pig, lamb and Wubba. I just about fell off my chair. Three things!!!!! No training, at least from me. But who knows what lessons he learned or observed at school. I'm absolutely gobsmacked.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Things to Ponder

So, I'm getting older.  I turned 57 on my last birthday and I'm at the age where things are either starting to shrivel up or fall off.  The latest has been my right knee and hip.  I could talk at great length about how long it took me just to get an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon, never mind the long wait for the surgery itself, but that is a topic for a whole 'nuther blog.  For this one, I'll just concentrate on my health woes and having a service dog.

Some people bring their service dogs to the hospital with them. In fact, I know of a couple of people who have done that, but that is something I do not want to do.  The floors of hospitals are dirty and I don't want my dog lying in gawd knows what and transferring that to me, so bringing the dog with me is not even a consideration.

Which leaves me to my situation.  What to do with the dog.  People have offered to house the dog while I am in hospital, which can be anywhere from a couple of days to a week long.   Then there is the first part of the recovery period, where I'm at home for the first week, but still not able to waltz up the hallway to take the dog out.

As I said, people have offered to take the dog for me, which is delightful to hear.  The dog school has some definite ideas on who can take one of their dogs and who cannot, which is something big to consider as well.  Ekko isn't a pet. There are definite rules that need to be followed.  The school has veto rights over who can and cannot take care of Ekko while I am unable to do so.

Ekko, by virtue of being a service dog, has to be taken care of in certain, specific ways.  For one thing, he can't go to a family where he is suddenly allowed to beg at the table, or be given food under the table.  He can't be allowed up on the furniture whenever he wants to (okay okay, the bed is the exception!!!).  In short, his training must be maintained.   Not all people get that, and it is unfair to the dog if he comes back to me and then has to be re-trained to previous standards. It just confuses the heck out of the dog.

I'm pretty sure I know what will transpire when I actually am operated on - who will be looking after my boy when I'm in hospital, and who will be helping out with potty breaks when I'm back at home, but I wanted to bring this to your attention if you're considering taking on a service dog.  They're an integral part of your life, not just a parcel to be handed off to the first available person/family that comes along should you need to be hospitalized.  The organization that has trained your dog and who has given him over into your care has a vested interest in what happens to the dog, and will even assist in finding a foster family for temporary situations if necessary.  The dog is a big investment and help is available if need be.

My thoughts for this evening.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Fake Service Dogs

We are hearing more and more about fake service dogs.  Can I ask those of you who are parading your pet around and calling it a service dog to please stop?  You're making it harder for those of us who really need these service animals.

Our dogs work hard for the privilege of wearing a vest and obtaining a photo ID card.  The schools our dogs come from work hard to maintain a certain standard so that they can stand behind the dogs they train with head held high.   

Those of us with legitimate service animals are still challenged in restaurants; are still ignored when we try to flag down a taxi.  We are still asked to leave hospitals, bars, companies, malls and other places where we are legitimately allowed to go with our animals.  Your "service animal", which isn't behaving, only adds to our woes, when we have to clean up your dogs crap in the mall (yes, I'm talking feces!) so that our dogs don't get blamed for it.  We're the ones who have to explain and educate when a business owner has been so annoyed by you and your fake animal that we get yelled at by frustrated people.

I used to (reluctantly) support service animals trained by their owners.  I say reluctantly, because I prefer that the animals come from a reputable agency, but also realize that it isn't always practical to attend an accredited school.

Now, however, because of phony service animals, I personally think it is better that ALL service animals come from an accredited school; that ALL service animals have photo ID with the dog's name and number on it, as well as the handler's name.   Furthermore, I think that the photo ID either come from the province, or be assigned to the handler from an authority recognized by the province, such as the executive director of an accredited training school.

It is hard enough being disabled and needing a service animal without selfish able-bodied people parading their pets around and taking advantage of people's goodwill.  As far as I'm concerned, you're about as selfish as those people who park in Accessible Parking spots without a permit.

So stop being selfish and self-centered. Get the fake vest off your dog, and grow up.


Friday, March 13, 2015

A New Revelation

I haven't been posting. Truthfully, I haven't felt the need to post anything. I figured I'd "been there, done that".  I figured no one would be reading, and I have nothing to say anyway.  But then it suddenly dawned on me.

I miss Bosley.

While that is not a revelation, what is though, is the fact that I was letting that impact this blog, and indeed everything else.

How, you ask?

When I first got Ekko, I would compare him endlessly with Bosley the Super Dog.  How unfair for Ekko.  Ekko isn't a second-rate dog by any stretch, but he wasn't Bosley.  At first, I would compare the two dogs to my friends and co-workers.  "Well, he isn't like Bosley", followed by a little sigh.

You're right. He isn't.  He's totally different, and equally wonderful.  He does things differently, but then, duh, he's a different dog with a totally different personality.

Sure, he doesn't wake me up the same.  He uses a gentle paw and a whiff of happy, smiling doggy breath.  He drives me insane with his poodle-pickiness when I offer him a treat and it isn't to his standards.  He's a bit skittish in certain situations.  Well, so what?   When he wakes me up in the mornings (now), it is so obvious that he gets such a charge out of doing so, and he smiles whenever he does something for me.

Bosley gave kisses.  Ekko doesn't.  Considering what all they lick, this is probably a good thing.
Ekko leans in and soaks up love like a sponge.  Bosley didn't like to be hugged.
Both take up the same amount of bed space, which is most of it.
Both have their loyal following whenever we step out onto the town.

I guess I was grieving Bosley so much that I subconsciously allowed that to interfere with my bond with Ekko.  Fortunately, Ekko is a patient sort, and he's won me around.

Something else to consider when one is getting used to having a service dog.  Getting a new dog can be painful, inviting comparisons that are unfair.  Fortunately, Ekko, by his very nature of being a service dog, managed to make me change my outlook.

Thank God for these wonderful dogs. Thank God for Ekko.

Monday, June 30, 2014

A Pink BUTT?!?

The dog got the runs and was poop from A to Z. He pooped outside the office but tracked poop into the office, PLUS he kept trying to scoot to clean himself off, which only spread it all around more. so ..
the local do it yourself doggy wash was closed for renovations, so I had to take him home to hose him down. I told him to get STRAIGHT into the tub. he did. I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned his butt until it shone. Then I washed the rest of him. Then I let him out of the tub, but made sure my bedroom door was shut so he couldn't get on the bed and wipe himself dry on my bed ....
He laid down on his red checked doggy bed in the front room while I scrubbed the tub and started laundry. Next thing you know, I look at his bum and it is PINK. Pink butt, pink hips, pink tail, PINK FEET! What the heck is going on! His entire rear end and all four feet are PINK!!!
His doggy bed (red, remember?) isn't colour-fast.

So he is celebrating our first anniversary first covered in crap, and now sporting a pink backside.

Happy anniversary, Ekko!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

He's Fine, Dammit!

"Does your dog need water?"

"No. He's fine."

"Are you sure? I don't mind.'

"No. He's fine. He was fed and watered before we left home, and it is winter.  If he were thirsty, he would let me know, and I'd be asking you for water for him, but he's fine right now."

"Let me just give him some water."

"No. He's fine."

This is then followed by: "I think he needs to go out."

"No. He's fine."

"Are you sure? I can take him out.  Let me take him out."

"No. He went before we got here."

"Are you sure?"

And on and on.

At first glance, it just looks like an over-solicitous hostess. Or family member. Or friend.  Or colleague.  But let's look a little closer.  This kind of conversation suggests to me a number of things going on at a number of different levels.

1) Although the person tells me with her lips that she understands this is a service dog, her mind is still focused on dog = pet.   Throw in  a suggestion of "I don't think you know what you're doing" into the mix and voila!  Instant battle of wills, however politely enacted out.

In the scenario above, I let the person know that it was okay, the dog was fine, and I'd let her know if he needed anything. In the case of the person wanting mightily to let the dog out, I assured her I knew his tell-tale signs, that he'd been out to do his business prior to entering the door, and that letting the dog in and out would only alert this smart dog that he could get one over on her and he'd soon be training HER on letting him in and out every ten minutes.

She obviously didn't buy it.

2) There was also, I think, a suggestion of "I know better than you" going on here too.  This was the first time the woman had met the dog, yet she was keen on over-riding my decisions.  Was this because I'm hard of hearing and thus incapable of making a sound decision?  Or a generic thought of I didn't know how to take care of a dog properly?

All dogs have "tells".  All handlers/owners quickly learn what they are.  Ekko and I have been a team since late June, but after a few mistakes I know when he needs to go NOW, and you would be amazed at how fast I can hustle the dog out the door.

3) There seemed to be a challenge on authority as well. I have indicated the dog doesn't need it, but there was an insistence that my decision  be over-ruled.  I stuck to my guns.

No, handlers of service dogs are not ogres.  Poor widdle doggy doesn't have a meanie for a momma.   He has free and full access to water at home and at work.  I carry a Gulpy bottle and bottled water whenever I go out.  I keep a good eye on the dog because he's part of me, and is working to keep me safe, and because I too, would be absolutely devastated should he even chip a nail, let alone get hurt or sick.  That said, the dog is working when I'm visiting a person's home. So, no, he's not allowed to walk around and sniff every inch of your home. He's not allowed to beg at the table (or take your scraps). He had a drink and was fed less than 2 hours ago, so I think he is okay on the water bit just now.

Just believe me when I say the dog is fine. He doesn't need anything at the moment.  No, you don't know this dog, you don't know his tells, you don't know his routine.  You didn't go to school for  two weeks to learn how to work with him properly, or to learn how dogs train humans to do their bidding to get snacks, more food and unlimited in/out privileges with you as their personal doorman.  You haven't lived with him 24/7 ever since school,  and your guilt (and lack of knowledge) should not be interfering in my handling of this service dog. 

Looking over what I've just read, I'm a little surprised at my tone.  I normally just let this type of situation just go over my head.  But last night it rankled.  Maybe I'm just a little tired of being treated like I don't know what I'm doing, or am incapable of making a decision.   I think the time has come for people to stop treating us like second class citizens incapable of making decisions and unable to look after another sentient being.

End of rant.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Laying on of ... Paws?

I was ordained to the priesthood yesterday (Roman Catholic Women Priests).  I'd given my dog to a friend to hold on to while I sat at the front of the church, but Ekko cried and cried to the point where I got up and got him to be with me.  He settled down and laid at my feet.

He stayed at my feet during the laying on of hands and all through the ordination. After the ordination part of the mass was over, I was hugged by my colleagues.  Guess who jumped right into the thick of things?  

(c) Lady of the Lens, 2013                                                                                                                                                     
(c) Lady of the Lens, 2013

(c) Lady of the Lens, 2013

These photos were taken by Silke Force, of Lady of the Lens Photography.  Her facebook page is Lady of the Lens Photography

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Sorry for the long stretch between postings. It has been a hectic couple of months.

Ekko and I are doing nicely as a team. It took awhile to get used to his quirks (and he to mine, I'm sure).

I've come to the conclusion that standard poodles are the cats of the dog world.  I grew up with dogs that enjoyed their food.  Ekko, like a lot of poodles, has more discerning tastes.  If we are going over obedience  training, I have to use special treats like  Beggin' Strips or dried liver. No fool he.

Ekko is working well.  He lets me know about the door, the telephone, the smoke alarm (thank gawd) and the timer for laundry and cooking.  He does not, however, want to wake me up in the morning. That is more hit and miss.  We're giving it a break for now and will tackle it again later. I'm thinking maybe I need a new alarm that sounds different or something. Hm.

Like Bosley, he hogs the bed.  It took me about 3 weeks to realize why he didn't go into his crate whenever I said "Crate" to him. That's because he's been taught "Kennel". 

Ekko is extremely affectionate.  He loves to lean, and soaks up loving like a sponge.  The name sign given to him in school is a falling over "E", because twice while in school, Ekko fell asleep standing up while resting his head on my knee, and both those times he fell over.  I laughed until I cried!

All said, I think we're going to make a good team.

Stay tuned.
Ekko and I at Orillia's Purina Walk for Dog Guides, Sept. 2013 (photo by Eileen Murray)

Monday, June 17, 2013

In School

I've been back at school at Dog Guides 3 days now, I think, and those days have been jammed with activities.  Starting with simply meeting each other.

The first day, we as a group, met for the first time over supper.  I suspect we're all introverts, as very little was said at that table!  We have two people who communicate by ASL, one person who speaks French, and three people who speak English.  Imagine three different languages at one table!  However, now we are communicating, albeit slowly.  The Anglophones are dragging out their memories of high school French, the Francophone is dragging out her high school English, and the two people who use ASL are actually using a fair amount of miming.  The really neat thing is if we can't think of a word, we draw a picture on paper, and then ask for the word in the other person's language. In other words, the Anglos are picking up French and sign, the Francophone is picking up English and sign, and the signers are picking up some French as well! 

That first evening, we met briefly and listened while the trainers outlined what to expect during the next few weeks.  We're listening, barely, because we just want to get our dogs!  However, the information that the trainers are dispensing is important, so listen we do.  We're told how to comport ourselves around other people's dogs at the school (no eye contact, no petting, and so on), as the dogs are in various stages of bonding and training, and distractions are .. well .. distractions! We also go over housekeeping items like general rules, fire drill information, meal times, and so on.  Then we're dismissed for the evening. 

The next day, we started the hard stuff.  More information about dogs and distractions. What to expect.  The most poignant talk of the day was when one of the trainers told us to be patient with our dogs.  She said, "When you come here, you know you're getting a dog.  When the dogs come here, they don't know they're getting a new person."  It brought home to me once again that these dogs see a lot of changes. First, leaving mom and litter mates for their foster families, then leaving their foster families for the training facilities, then leaving the facilities and going home with a new person.  Yet these dogs do it and go on to do so many wonderful things.  So patient we strive to be. 

The dogs are still at the pop-up stage around the dining table.  I'm not used to this, because Bosley, my first dog, didn't give me any problems (don't worry, we had other stuff to deal with at the beginning!).  My nickname for my new dog is pop-tart. Up and down and up and down and up again.  He's tall enough to look over the table, and does.   But he's a gentle soul, and I have another gentleman in my life, named Ekko (pronounced echo).

Yes, Ekko. Funny name for a dog destined to work with a hard of hearing person. I chuckled to myself when the trainer told me his name.  Ekko is a male standard poodle, and his colouring is subtle and lovely in person. So far, I can't get a photo to do it justice.  I honestly don't know at this point if he is a dark cream, or a very light apricot.  In the sunlight, he looks like a cream, so I suspect that is what he is.  He is a sensitive soul, and a big suck.  Loves to be loved.  At first he was shy with me.  He is quite reserved, so I suspect Ekko will not have the adoring hoardes that Bosley had.

One major difference between labs and poodles that I've discovered is their attitude toward food.  While Bosley was a typical lab/vacuum, Ekko is more refined.  Taking out a few kibbles, leaving the dish to chew thoughtfully, then returning to the dish for a second mouthful. The labs would have finished the bowl by then.   And they don't eat all their food!  I'm a bit nonplussed, let me tell you!

How am I doing?  I alternate between sadness, happiness, annoyance, victoriousness, jubilation and just plain tiredness.  Sadness, because while I was waiting in my room to be introduced to Ekko, I had a flashback to the first time Bosley walked into my room with his tail wagging. I started to cry. So poor Ekko's first glimpse of me was one of a person smiling through tears. Joy and sorrow.

The days are packed but they go by quickly.  I'm re-learning things I've forgotten from the first go-round, and I'm learning new things as well.  I'm also learning a little patience.  I've gone from a dog I knew for five years; a dog whose quirks I knew, and a dog who knew my quirks, to a dog who is a mystery to me ( and I to him).

Well, I only got up to go to the bathroom and check my Facebook account, and here I am at 3 o'clock in the morning and writing an installment here.  I'm not going to edit it, as I just want to go back to bed now.  So, here's hoping it isn't too long-winded, and is more or less coherent!

Talk to y'all later.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Going Back to School

It is now official. I'm going back to Dog Guides for a new dog on June 13th.  I suspect graduation night is June 27th and then I'm off home with my new dog on June 28th.  Bittersweet thoughts abound.

Stick around - I'll let you know how school goes. I hear there are lots of changes.  I'm excited to see what those changes are.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

THE Interview

Had my interview today with Dog Guides.  This is part of the process where the environment is checked for things that could potentially harm a dog, and questions are asked to see exactly what the person needs the dog to do.  Questions are straightforward and matter-of-fact.  Have you had a pet before? A dog?  What kind of dog do you see yourself with? Do you travel a lot? A little?  What do you need the dog to do? And so on.

In my case, at work I need a dog that can hear the bing-bong of the doors opening.  Both the front door and the back door of our small office makes this bing-bong noise.  If I have a hearing aid out I can't hear that noise, which indicates that someone has just come in.  Hearing my name called is another thing I need, not only at work but at medical appointments. Again, I don't hear my named called consistently, especially if one of my hearing aids is out.  Other sounds I need to be made aware of include knocking, the fire alarm and so on.  Oh - and as for why one of my hearing aids might be out -- when I answer the phone I have to take one hearing aid out so that I can hear. My phone is amplified and I can't use the T switch because of electronic interference. Can't wear the T switch because it isn't strong enough, so out goes one of my hearing aids while I use the amplified phone at the top of its setting. Then I can't hear what's going on around me in the environment because one hearing aid is not enough.

At home, I need the dog for the door, phone, fire alarm, name calling, and the timer ringing (cooking and laundry). So yes, the dog needs to work inside the home and outside.

The dog does get a break and my new one will as well.  Breaks come in many forms.  They can be a short play break with a toy as a reward for a job well done, or it can be a full-on play time with me or with a doggy friend, or it can be time off inside the crate.  The crate is not punishment. It is down time in their own bedroom.

So -- interview is done and checked off the list.

Now we wait.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

We Begin Again

1. Application downloaded from www.dogguides.com and filled in. Check.

2. Physician's form downloaded and filled in. Check.

3. References. Check.

4. Form signed by employer and added to application. Check.

5. Form signed by landlord and added to application. Check.

6. Form scanned into PDF document and emailed to Dog Guides. Check.

7. Wait. Refrain from emailing every two hours to ask if they received my application.

8. Send email asking if PDF was received (it was a HUGE document).  Response: yes.

9. Wait and try not to send an email every ten minutes to ask about my status.

10. Email for another follow up.

11. Yup. Application is being processed.

12. Email from Tracy, to set up an interview. YES!

13. Interview to occur on May 14.  YES! YES!

14.  Stay tuned. ...  ...  ...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Service Dogs, Human Rights and the AODA

I am on the AODA email list and just received this email.  I'm including it here, as it pertains to dog guides.  If you want to sign up for AODA emails,  write to : aodafeedback@gmail.com -

Warning: long and technical. If you're looking for my more fun reads, skip this post. :-)



Toronto Restaurant Incident with Hearing Ear Dog Shows Need for the Ontario Government to Keep Its Promise to Effectively Enforce the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

April 23, 2013


The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires Ontario to become fully accessible to over 1.7 million Ontarians with disabilities by 2025. The Ontario Government has pledged for years to effectively enforce this law. Recent reports in the Toronto Star highlight the need for the Ontario Government to keep its word.

According to an article in the April 20, 2013 on-line edition of the Toronto Star, set out below, a Toronto restaurant, part of a chain, allegedly restricted a customer from bringing his Hearing Ear dog with him wherever he wished to sit into the restaurant. The Star’s April 21, 2013 on-line edition included a second article, set out below. It reported that the restaurant had apologized and planned to provide its disability service staff with disability training.

The AODA Alliance quickly swung into action. As a result, in a third article, published in the Toronto Star’s April 22, 2013 on-line edition, set out below, we highlighted that such incidents show that the Government must at long last keep its pledge to effectively enforce the AODA.

The AODA includes helpful enforcement provisions. However they are useless if they are not effectively deployed.

The intent underlying the AODA, for which our community campaigned tirelessly for a decade, was to put in place a law that didn’t require individuals with disabilities to have to go to the Human Rights Tribunal to fight barriers one at a time, and one organization at a time.

Back in 2007, the Ontario Government enacted the Customer Service Accessibility Standard under the AODA. The Government gave the private sector an excessively leisurely five years to prepare to comply. That standard requires organizations, like restaurants, that provide goods or services to the public, to adopt a customer service disability accessibility policy, to train their employees on that policy, and to institute a customer feedback process. The customer Service Accessibility Standard and explanatory information about it can be found at http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/accessibility/customerService/

If the report in the Toronto Star is accurate (on which we of course cannot comment), then the restaurant in question appears only now to be looking at providing training on accessible customer service for people with disabilities. If so, that would be well past the five-year deadline that the Customer Service Accessibility Standard set.  

With a long five years to bring themselves into compliance with the Customer Service Accessibility Standard, there is no reason why such incidents should be reported in the media as occurring in 2013. This is even more obvious when we realize that since as far back as 1982, the Ontario Human Rights Code has banned such discrimination in access to goods, services and facilities, based on a disability such as the use of a service dog. Despite that, for years, the media has reported incidents like this.

We have been pressing the Ontario Government for years to live up to its pledge to effectively enforce the Disabilities Act, including the accessibility standards it enacted under that law. Our last letter to the Ontario Government on this, dated  January 22, 2013, explains our concerns quite clearly. In that letter we ask for specifics on the Government’s plans for enforcing the AODA. The AODA Alliance’s January 22, 2013 letter to former Community and Social Services Minister John Milloy (then responsible for implementing and enforcing the AODA) is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/01242013.asp
As the Toronto Star reports, the Ontario Government has not answered our January 22, 2013 letter in the three months since we sent it. All we have received is a March 12, 2013 letter from the Community and Social Services Ministry set out below. That letter merely says that responsibility to answer our inquiry about enforcement of the AODA has now shifted to the new Economic Development Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins.

On February 27, 2013, we wrote Dr. Hoskins to identify priorities for him on the Disabilities Act for which he was assuming lead responsibility within the Ontario Cabinet. The AODA Alliance’s February 27, 2013 letter to Economic Development Minister Dr. Hoskins is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/02272013.asp

Our letter to Dr. Hoskins listed effective enforcement of the AODA as our second priority. It stated:

“2. Promptly Announcing and Implementing Measures to Effectively Enforce Accessibility Standards enacted under the AODA.

There are already two enforceable accessibility standards on the books under the AODA, the Integrated Accessibility Standard (which addresses barriers in transportation, employment and information and communication) and the Customer Service Accessibility Standard. In the 2003 and 2011 elections, former Premier McGuinty promised that your Government’s Disabilities Act would be effectively enforced. However, the Government has not yet effectively deployed the enforcement powers it enshrined in the AODA. Obligated organizations cannot be expected to take this law seriously if it is not effectively enforced.

We wrote your predecessor, Minister John Milloy, on January 22, 2013, to ask for specific information about your Government’s past actions and future plans for enforcing this important legislation, and to urge prompt action. We have received no response to that inquiry. Responsibility for that inquiry now rests with you and your Ministry. We would appreciate a response to, and effective action on our letter to Minister Milloy. The AODA Alliance’s January 22, 2013 letter to Minister Milloy about enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

In addition to having appropriate staff in your Ministry tasked with enforcement, we urge you to designate Ontario Government inspectors under other legislation to include enforcement of the AODA in their activities, where feasible. We also urge you to make it clear to the public that this legislation will be effectively enforced.”

Back in the 2011 Ontario general election, Premier Dalton McGuinty again promised Ontarians with disabilities that the AODA would be effectively enforced. Dalton McGuinty’s August 19, 2011 letter to the AODA Alliance is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220111.asp

On December 3, 2012, as she campaigned for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party, Kathleen Wynne promised us in writing that she would honour all Dalton McGuinty’s promises on disability and accessibility. That includes the pledge to effectively enforce the AODA. She is now Ontario’s premier. We need her to show strong leadership on this issue. Kathleen Wynne’s December 3, 2012 letter to the AODA alliance is available to this effect at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/12032012.asp  

It is especially troubling that as of now, according to the Toronto Star’s April 22, 2013 article, the Ontario Government claims that it does not know how many private sector organizations have filed the mandatory Accessibility reports with the Government that are required under the customer Service Accessibility Standard enacted under the AODA. Any private sector organization that had to file such a report was obliged to do so by the end of 2012. That article states: A spokesman for Economic Development and Trade Minister Eric Hoskins, who oversees disability issues, was unable to say how many businesses have filed their customer accessibility reports.

“We still have work to do to improve the number,” said Gabe DeRoche.

In sharp contrast, the Ontario Government was readily able to proudly report to the public on how many public sector organizations had filed the required accessibility reports under that accessibility standard.  Here is what Community and Social Services Minister Meilleur said in the Legislature on May 31, 2010 re compliance with the Customer Service Accessibility Standard by the broader public sector as of that time:

“Accessible customer service is now a requirement for our broader public sector, and 96% of Ontario's broader public sector has either reported full compliance with the standard or is in the process of reporting.” Minister Meilleur’s May 31, 2011 statement in the Ontario Legislature is available at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06132010.asp

One year later, on May 24, 2012 then Assistant Deputy Minister of Community and Social Services Ellen Waxman (who was responsible for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario) reported the following according to her PowerPoint slides presented at an international conference on information technology accessibility, held at Toronto’s Ontario College of Art and Design University:

"Designated public sector organizations were required to comply by January 1, 2010.

           These include the Ontario Government, municipalities in Ontario, schools, hospitals, colleges and universities

           We are pleased to report that a 100% of BPS Organizations have reported their compliance with the customer service standard."

Ellen Waxman’s May 24, 2012 speech PowerPoint slides can be seen at http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/06292012.asp

It is hard to believe that the Government cannot quickly figure out how many private sector organizations have filed the required accessibility reports, and how many have not. We asked the Government for this information three months ago, in our January 22, 2013 letter to then Community and Social Services Minister John Milloy. If the Government can announce the percentage of public sector organizations that have filed required accessibility reports, then the Government can surely do the same for private sector organizations.

It is entirely inexcusable that people with disabilities using service dogs continue to report such barriers to access to services and facilities in 2013. It is equally inexcusable that, as reported in these Toronto Star articles, a person with a disability might feel it necessary to have to themselves investigate and prosecute these cases at the Human Rights tribunal, despite the fact that the Ontario Government has promised for years to effectively enforce the AODA.

Let the Ontario Government know you want it to now keep its promise to effectively enforce the AODA.

Send us your feedback. Write us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

To sign up for, or unsubscribe from AODA Alliance e-mail updates, write to: aodafeedback@gmail.com

Please "like" our Facebook page and share our updates:

Follow us on Twitter. Get others to follow us. And please re-tweet our tweets!! @AODAAlliance

Learn all about our campaign for a fully accessible Ontario by visiting http://www.aodaalliance.org

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ten Reasons Why I Need a Hearing Ear Dog

(Borrowed heavily from Peter Stelmacovich's "Deafened But Not Silent" blog)

1. When I sleep at night,  I sleep heavily. That's when I sleep. I have insomnia as well. Between that,  my ADHD, the noise from my CPAP machine and Goddess knows what else, I do not hear fire alarms or, sometimes, alarm clocks.  Or, I hear them, but can ignore them and sleep right through.  Vibrations don't wake me, and neither do flashing lights. A dog will waken me.  Bosley used to poke me with his cold, wet nose. If that didn't work, he taught himself to hit me AND to jump on top of me if he had to.  That worked!

Peter pointed out that  most fires occur at night when people are asleep. A time when hearing aids are not worn.  A hearing ear dog will physically wake me up, whereas a fire alarm (auditory or visual) will not.

2.   I don't always wear hearing aids. Yes, shocking.  But remember - growing up, I was in the majority.  Only my mom and one of my three brothers were hearing. The rest of us (dad, two brothers, granddad, great-grandma, etc.) were born hard of hearing.  We didn't have hearing aids until later in life. I grew up without hearing aids and so did my brothers, father and grandfather. I don't think hearing aids were even available for my great-grandmother and her mom!!!  To this day, hearing aids can overwhelm me after awhile, and I need a break.  The dog can keep me alerted to things I need to hear.  But even with hearing aids, I still don't always hear things I need to hear, so a dog is necessary, even WITH my hearing aids. 

3.  Yes, I really am "that deaf".  Technically, my hearing is considered, binaural (both ears) sensori-neural (nerve deafness) and is severe.  If I had a dollar for every time I'm told, "But you don't sound hard of hearing", or "You cope so well", and "You don't really need a dog, do you?" ....  Thank you for the compliments,  but trust me, the dog is necessary.  Yes, I can sing and hold a tune well.  Yes, I sang solos in church. Yes, I can even play a couple of musical instruments (poorly), and yes, I can't hear!  And what the hell does a hard of hearing person "sound like" anyway?  Jeez.

4. Even with hearing aids, I can still miss things.  The dog, as Peter said in his blog, ensures consistency.

5.  I can't hear doorbells or door knocks.  I don't always hear my name called.  I'm not a snob. I'm not ignoring you.  The dog will alert me to people hollering out my name, and people won't be offended because I've supposedly ignored them.

6. I have a timer and have used it for years.  However - remember that comment about ADHD?  I don't always remember to bring the timer with me.  So my laundry gets forgotten and starts to get musty-smelling, or I accidentally overcook or even burn my food -- Goddess help me if I ever fall asleep with the stove on and the timer in the other room!  The dog again, ensures that I will remember to change the laundry from the washer and into the dryer, or to get my dinner out of the oven.  Or get up in the morning and go to work.

7. If I know someone is coming to my house, I have to sit by the door and wait. Can't do anything else, because if I do, I won't hear.  That includes reading a book.  I can't reliably hear door knocks or bells from other parts of my apartment.   The dog will be able to hear those sounds for me.

8. As a woman who has to go out at night, I can't hear if someone is behind me.  While the dog is not a watch dog, I do get peace of mind knowing that the dog will tell me if someone is behind me by looking over his/her shoulder and beyond me.  That is immeasurable.   You can't buy that kind of assurance.  Right now without a dog, I feel more anxious and my chronic depression is deepening.

8. I sleep better at night knowing someone is there listening for me.  Whenever I got a little anxious, I would put my foot (or my bum) over a titch and feel the dog right there.  I would smile and fall back to sleep.  I'm not doing that now, and my insomnia is getting worse.

9. Shopping and travelling are actually easier with a working dog.  Same thing with going into a store or a restaurant.  Without the dog, people might treat me as a dim-watt, because I can't hear what's being said to me, or I think I hear what's being said and answer inappropriately.  Despite two (and a half) degrees from a major Canadian university (U of T, dammit!), and an IQ of 130, it only takes an instant of answering something incorrectly to have people giving me "The Look".  Having a service dog with me reminds people that I might not always hear and that's okay.  It reminds airline staff I cannot hear the announcements to board so they come get me ahead of time for pre-boarding.  It reminds wait staff to repeat and not get flustered or frustrated with me. It reminds store clerks that I'm not about to steal the TV off the stand if I ignore their repeated  "Can I help you" questions that I don't hear.

10.  And finally - yet another wonderful quote from Peter.  Hearing ear dogs help to filter out the (ahem) Jerks of the world. I'll leave you to ponder that last remark. ;-)

For more information on Hearing Ear Dogs see the links below:
Lions Foundation of Canada  (Dog Guides)

Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS)

Thanks, Peter!  

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Seriously Consider Pet Insurance, and I Mean SERIOUSLY.

For my next dog, pet insurance is a must.  I had pet insurance on Bosley, but then decided to let it go as I considered it an "unnecessary expense". Holy cow. In retrospect, I shouldn't have let it go.  Next dog - pet insurance is number one priority.  It may not cover all the bills but it will certainly help.  True, there were no extraordinary vet bills for the first 5 years I had him, but that last year was hard on the ol' pocket book. Yes, he was worth it, but at the same time, the pet insurance is something I'm kicking myself over.  Shop around and see which insurance best suits your needs. You can get bare minimum coverage to Cadillac coverage that includes all preventative shots.

If you aren't working or have a low-paying job and have a service dog, there is help.  In Ontario there is the Farley Foundation.  If you do (Lord forbid) need assistance, swallow your pride and look into it. I believe it is run by the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association.  I'm sure there are similar organizations in other provinces.

There is also help from your local vet. Don't be afraid to ask.  In spite of big signs posted in the reception area saying no cheques accepted, my vet took cheques and not only took cheques, she took a series of  post-dated cheques as well.  She also cut me a LOT of slack by not charging me for several visits, and giving me serious discounts and outright freebies. Dr. Jo was a godsend. So was her receptionist, Carol-Anne. That said, if your vet doesn't help out in this way, don't get angry... they are providing a service and they are running a business. Which makes the assistance Dr. Jo gave me all the sweeter, and I appreciated it greatly.  Also - don't forget to remind your vet that your dog is a service dog. You might be surprised with a discount on the total bill.  For example, I got a 10% discount on the bills generated from the University of Guelph's Oncology Department. Considering just two of Bosley's bills from there came to well over $3,000, you do the math.

In the Toronto area there is Companion Animal Wellness.  http://www.companionanimalwellness.com/

For the rest of Canada, you might find assistance with low-cost or free veterinary assistance and emergency pet fees assistance here:

There are other organizations out there. Ask your local vet or SPCA or Humane Society where they are.  And of course, if your dog is from Dog Guides of Canada, contact them, as they would know whom to contact as well.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Blog Audience

I'm just going through the background of this blog and discovered some interesting stats.  Here are the countries of this blog's audience - I found it rather interesting, considering this is a Canadian blog!

United States
United Kingdom

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Starting the Process All Over Again

I need another dog. While I'm still grieving Bosley, I realize that I'm needing another dog in my life to help me.  Not being able to hear important sounds in one's life can put a crimp in a lot of things. I'm talking important things like the fire alarm when I'm sleeping, or the alarm clock so that I can get to work.  So, the process begins again.

Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides, or Dog Guides for short, is where Bosley came from.  Dog Guides is also where the dogs of a number of friends came from.  I like the dogs from Dog Guides, and I like how they train their dogs.  There are other organizations out there, but I'm going to stick with this one.

All organizations have application forms.  Dog Guides' application form, for the hearing ear dog program at least, is 14 pages long.  The medical report is 4 pages long.  Two references are requested, and the name and contact information of the family vet is also required.   There are also two forms that need to be signed from one's landlord (if one rents) and one's employer.  These forms state that a working dog will be coming on their premises and that they (work and landlord) acknowledge that the dog has a right to be there.

Once I submit my paperwork (no, I haven't yet - I'm still grieving and feeling quite disloyal at this point), there is an interview to go through.  The first/last time I was interviewed, two people showed up. Asked whole bunches of questions, then one went through my house to see if there were any potential problem areas or non-dog friendly parts of my home that needed to be changed.  This could be anything from dangling wires behind the television set to poisonous chemicals sitting out in the open, plus whole bunches of other things.

Once that process went through, my application and the interview recommendation was sent before the acceptance committee to see if I was deemed a suitable candidate. Or not.  Yes, it is a lengthy and involved process, but I'm all in favour of it, because it shows my commitment, and it shows that I can take care of one of their dogs. It also shows that they care about their dogs and are looking after them as well.

Stay tuned.  In the meantime, in case you're wondering, I cry every night, over losing Bosley to lymphoma. Nights are especially hard.  So you can imagine the see saw of emotions right now as I *know* I need another dog, and I *know* I'm still grieving.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I Miss You, Bosley.

I miss your gorgeous eyes, your pink and black  nose. I miss how you woke me up in the morning, and how you reminded me that I had toast in the toaster.  I even miss how you snored and how you grunted whenever you got up and didn't want to, but you did anyway.  My lovable, grumpy, happy, smiling boy.

You gave me a freedom that can't be labelled. Freedom that can't be cost-factored.  I felt safe knowing you would tell me if someone was behind me or if someone was in the office when I was otherwise alone.  Safe, knowing you would wake me up and alert me in case of a fire.

I miss the laughter you brought to my life.  Your expressive face that had me in stitches.  Your incredible eyebrows that could communicate whole paragraphs, let alone sentences; thoughts and feelings and expressions and opinions, all with the flick of a brow or a lid.

I miss your acceptance and unconditional love.  Looking up at me with trust in your eyes.  Your last minutes on this earth as I shook your paw and thanked you for all the work you did for me.  Even then, although you were clearly sick, you still smiled, still stuck out your paw for a shake, and still had time for a lick and some love even though you were clearly not well.  You gave so much of yourself, Bosley.  I will miss you; yes, I do miss you. Very much so.  Especially in the quiet of the night.

Yes, there will be other dogs in my life. Indeed other service dogs, but you, my boy, are and were, one of a kind.  Irreplaceable.  You stole my heart.  You stole many hearts.

Rest in peace now, my good friend.  You have certainly deserved it.  Good bye, Bosley.  Good night.  God bless.  

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Good Boy, Bosley. Rest Now.

He's gone. What more can I say?  He died peacefully at the end. I will write a more fitting eulogy, but this is all I can do right now.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Message from Theo to Bosley

(Theo is the canine companion of Silke, who is a minister.)

Dear Bos,

I have to admit that I am occasionally surprised by the lady I take care of - once in a while, she will look at the big square of
paper on the cold food storage locker - you know the one I mean - the one covered by little squares and numbers and scribbles of what she was supposed to do but forgot. She looks at it and then looks at me and shakes her head and says something about big numbers - she says I will be 86 years old this week - whatever THAT means! She also says something about me being little HA! When I get up on my hind legs and look one of those bruisers in the eye: guess who backs down first? Age? Size? don't mean a thing to us 4-legged creatures, do they!

You know, I overheard one of those humans in the big hall next to my home saying something about not being able to teach an old dog new tricks - (??) As IF! I gave my lady such a surprise a few sleeps ago.
She took me along with her to this big house with lots of rooms because we were stopping off "to do a service" on our way to visit my girl a bunch of rumbles further down the road. It was cool. She took me around the room and I got to meet a whole bunch of people who never got out of their chairs. They came in on wheels and made lots of happy noises when I said hello to them.

She told me to get up on the chair while she was "doing the service." It was interesting because I had never watched her "do" a service before. I just put my chin on my paws and watched and then I got to come down off the chair and say goodbye to all these nice people with the funny smells.  I don't think they paid nearly as much attention to her as they did to me.

One of them smelled really wrong and I kept going back to her - I knew she was really really sad because she was going to be leaving this world very soon. I kept going back and rubbing my head against her knees.
She did leave before I got back from my holidays. I hope she stopped being sad before she went.  I know she was going to a very good place.

You and I are going to that good place too - I know you're going to get there before I do, so can you save me a couple of those biscuits please.

Looking forward to seeing you here first though - my lady keeps telling me you're s'posed to come for a visit to my new home. Tell your lady to hurry up, would you?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

We're Still Hanging in There!

Week 16. Bos-boy is still here.

I've been reflecting on the first time I met Bosley.  The first day and a half or so of dog school, we students were practically beside ourselves with excitement.  We wanted to meet the dogs!  But we had to wait to get a list of instructions, admonitions and so on.  During breaks, we would discuss with other students what kind of dog we hoped we would get (or hoped we wouldn't get, right Deb??) and wonder how we'd make out.

I was tried with two separate dogs. Both labs. Charlie was a black lab, and Bosley was a yellow.  My first meeting with Bosley was that he rose up on his hind legs and darned near knocked me over. My immediate reaction was to say, "Off" and push him on the chest.  The trainer was impressed that I did that naturally, instead of letting him stay in that position.  Bosley and I walked around the room in a circle with the other students and their potential dogs.  After that, I tried out Charlie.  Charlie seemed the more laid back of the two.  Which one did I want? I didn't know.  I discussed the pros and cons of both dogs with the teachers/trainers and let them decide which dog to give me.

Then we were told to go to our rooms and wait for our dogs to be given to us. We were to stay in our rooms for awhile in order to get to know our dogs for a bit first once we'd gotten them.  My first impression of Bosley coming through the door was of one massive, blocky head, followed by the rest of his body.  His eyes were actually smiling at me.  I accepted Bosley's leash, and shut the door behind the trainers, then looked at Bosley to see what he would do.

He immediately jumped up onto my bed.

Uh. No.  Off.  He did so. Immediately.  Then, when I sat down on the bed and called him to me, he jumped up on my knee and humped it.  What the ....  Obviously, we were having a little battle of King of the Castle here!  However, despite the start, I knew immediately that Bosley was for me, and haven't looked back.

He's got his own personality. He still likes to test me occasionally, but then I wouldn't have him any other way. Most times, he is his usual eager-to-please, smiling self.

I'll be devastated when he's gone.  Already the anticipatory grief is  hard enough to go through.