Archives for October 2008

Things Up to Which We Are

I have a bunch of things to post, but not really the time nor energy to do so. Instead, I give you the all encompassing bullet-style catch up post:

  • From the small bit of information I’ve managed to gather here and there, we believe Yara is suffering from pancreatitis. Test results to confirm this are still pending, but I’m thinking of switching Yara to the reduced fat EVO and see if that helps any.
  • School continues to keep me busy. Midterms are next week and I’m doing my best to not stress myself out completely.
  • Seems there’s an issue with my new laptop and HP has delayed its shipment indefinitely. From what I’ve been reading on different forums, said issue may be more complex than the “lack of availability” line HP gave me. I’m on the fence if I’ll just give up and find something else.
  • Speaking of computers, my PC at work went all BSOD,1 leaving me with absolutely nothing to do most of Friday. IT never came to fix it so I’m expecting an equally dull Monday.
  • I think I’ve come down with a cold or something. I feel pretty much fine aside from a massive headache that may be unrelated, but I’m very stuffed up and everything tastes kind of off. . . .
  • Got my absentee ballot in the mail yesterday. I’m happy to say that Albany County will not be voting for Osama.
  • Oh, and it dawned on me that Tuesday marked eight months at VESID. My, does the time fly. :-)
  1. Blue screen of death.

Fosters Fighting EDF

Thanks to Marion for sharing this article on the NAGDU email list. [Original article here.]

A custody battle is brewing over 25 “service dogs in training” in the Phoenix area.

The future service animals are owned by the Eye Dog Foundation for the Blind, a California-based non-profit group that operates a training center in Phoenix.

But a large group of volunteers, foster families that agreed to help raise the dogs, are refusing to return them.

“I couldn’t feel comfortable handing this dog back to a foundation that is not functioning and feel good about it,” Diana Anderson said.

Anderson and 24 other volunteers entered into agreements with the foundation to provide the dogs a home and bring them to training sessions at the foundation’s facility in South Phoenix.

The goal of the foundation is to train the dogs and then place them with the blind.

But volunteers like Eldon Ploetz say the foundation is in shambles, that dogs are not receiving the necessary training, and they claim not a single dog has been placed with a blind person in more than a year.

Ploetz and his wife have helped raise and foster Kiesha, a German shepherd.

In late September, Ploetz received a letter from the Eye Dog Foundation’s attorney stating, “DEMAND IS HEREBY MADE that you immediately return Kiesha to the Foundation.”

The letter continues, “I understand that you have breached at least two parts of this Agreement. You have not followed the instructions of the staff, and you have not attended all the Training Classes.”

Other volunteers received similar letters.

But the volunteers claim the trainers are not properly certified, and the ones that have been hired have not stayed on with the foundation.

Additionally, they say the Foundation had been shut down for weeks and they have neglected the dogs.

“We understand they cut off the food for the dogs that were in the kennel,” Ploetz said.

Ploetz’s wife said she would rather go to jail than give the Kiesha back to the foundation.

“They are valid concerns,” said Dacoda Whittemore, a former operations manager who worked at the foundation’s training facility for only a week.

Whittemore said the dogs are “absolutely” receiving better care with the foster families, “not just because the management isn’t functioning properly, but there?s no staff qualified on the foundation at this point to be able to take and care for these dogs properly.”

Dexter Morin, a former trainer at the facility agreed with Whittemore, submitting his resignation earlier this month.

Before leaving, Morin turned over several dogs to the foster families rather than leaving them at the training facility alone.

In his resignation letter, Morin wrote, “I contacted the puppy raisers to inform them of my concerns of leaving the dogs on the premises without the guarantee that they would be attended to.”

Morin goes on to state, “I in good conscience turned them over to the puppy raisers for the safe keeping of the dogs.”

The Eye Dog Foundation and its attorney have declined our repeated requests for an on-camera interview.

In a statement to ABC15, the Foundation’s attorney, John D. Clark, wrote, “The contract clearly states that each of the dogs belong to the Foundation, and gives no ownership rights whatsoever to any of the puppy raisers.”

The letter goes on to state that “the Foundation directed each of the puppy raisers in writing to return the Foundation’s puppies to the Foundation within five days. It now appears that the puppy raises are refusing to comply with the Foundation’s directive.”

[Read more…]

“Clearly she hates you.”

Silence around these parts generally equals one of two things: (1.) nothing is going on worth the effort of blogging about or (2.) so much is going on I have not the time to post it here. In this case it’s numero dos and I can’t say it’s all good news either.

I did hear back from Dr. Gundersen that Yara’s blood work came back negative. Her kidneys and liver are fine, electrolytes are normal, protien levels are good. By all accounts she’s healthy. Nothing new there. Her thyroid test results have yet to be completed, but she’s scheduled for the next batch of blood tests a week from Saturday.1

That, of course, is hardly where the drama resides. Last Friday while I was on my lunch break, I was told by another colleague that a gentlemen came to our office “looking for someone regarding abusing their guide dog.” As there are three of us currently in our office alone that are guide dog users, she asked him specifically whom he was referring to, but he wouldn’t give her a name and I assume he left shortly thereafter as I never ran into him. My colleague seemed very concerned that it had to do with Yara, though admittedly a few other coworkers felt it may be in reference to another person on our floor, but I brushed it all aside. To be honest, I was hardly surprised that the gentlemen may have been looking for me specifically. I hear on a daily basis from friends and strangers alike that Yara’s excessively thin, like the fact has somehow escaped me.

Anyway, Monday I received a call from Becky that a report had been made against me at Fidelco. Of course, I’ve already been in contact with the school about the entire matter. In May, when I first found out Yara had lost weight, we all went to the school, had Yara weighed again and talked with Robbie about the matter. Plus, at the urging of Patty, I called Robbie last week, hoping for some insight on other Y-pups with a similar issue and/or any advice. All that notwithstanding, Fidelco still has its own obligations to meet, so Becky was coming to “check on us.”

Wednesday, I met her and Mary at my office and they both easily confirmed the obvious: Yara’s very thin. Becky observed that Yara also “clearly hates [me]” as she was doing her usual “this is my mommy” sitting thing where she leans on my leg with her right foot planted on top of my left one and stares up at me. We walked a few blocks and talked a bit about the complete standstill I’m at with what’s causing the weight-loss. Yara was quite good, save for the uncharacteristic dog distraction she was having with Vince, the dog Mary was working with. We eventually let them have a brief hello to get it out of her system, but I’ve chalked it up to the fact she hasn’t seen a shepherd since the Walk.

When we were practically back to my office, Mary asked if there was anywhere to eat where they could take the dogs in. And, of course, in downtown Albany there’s tons of places to eat and they’re all pretty used to guide dogs coming in. Becky went and “got herself a dog” from the van and we set off. Yara was hilarious during this walk as she now had two shepherds that she had to outperform. She had to be first off the curb and in front of all the other dogs. She was just so silly!

We ended up going to El Mariachi and all the dogs were really very good. Hannah was especially funny because she wasn’t really sure whom to listen to even though Becky was working her, so she’d just randomly target me or jump up when I was giving Yara a command. Vince, on the other hand, kind of reminded me of Raechel’s last puppy Spock, he just kept spreading himself out more and more. But anyway, I had a very nice time. We chatted about a bunch of stuff and I actually heard some news about Spock, which was really kind of random and funny.

After we finished, we all walked back to the van, Yara still wanting to show off and be first. Becky said she had this “wild, crazy” look on her face, too. Back at the van, she was really hilarious and kept trying to get inside and was whining so loud! I couldn’t believe it, honestly. It’s always very windy in that part of Albany because of the tall buildings and we all were practically shouting to be heard and Yara’s whining was even louder than all that!

So, in the end, while I am hardly pleased that someone reported me for possibly abusing Yara, I am glad that everyone involved is now on the same page and behind me. I still have no more answers than before as to what’s going on with my dog, but there certainly are a lot of concerned people. And if any further complaints come in regarding the issue, Fidelco can safely assure them that they’ve already investigated and found nothing to warrant abuse.

  1. The first available date that she could be fasted for twelve hours after payday (since I’m broker than broke).