Archives for September 2009

EDF Has Lost Control

Last year I posted a news article about the very disturbing fight that Eye Dog Foundation puppy raisers were having with the training school. Sadly, it doesn’t seem like things are improving at EDF, at least according to this article:

Residents living near a controversial guide-dog training facility in south Phoenix say that it has gone, well, to the dogs.

They complain of frenzied barking and growling that can be heard throughout the day and night in the blocks surrounding the non-profit Eye Dog Foundation for the Blind. Certainly that was the case Thursday morning, when one resident recorded the cacophony of barking from her backyard just after 6.

“This is what we what we have to put up with every morning,” resident Barbara Tristan said over the racket. “It is just horrible.”

The California-based foundation, which runs its only training facility in Phoenix, hasn’t placed a single guide dog with the blind in two years. A recent Arizona Republic investigation found that it has placed an average of three dogs a year since 2000 despite raising millions of dollars in donations and interest from investments.

But the lack of dog placements doesn’t mean the kennels have been empty. And that’s where neighbors who live near the facility on 15th Avenue south of Baseline say the dogs are kept most of the day and night, locked in kennels where they bark and bark.

“It’s just that they are trapped in there all day long,” Tristan said. “There doesn’t seem to be any training going on at all. They are kept in pens.”

Tristan says she has attempted several times to contact the facility and the foundation about the dogs. But she said staff ignores her calls and in two cases, taunted her. “The last time I called, the woman said, ‘They’re dogs. … Do what you have to do,’ and then she hung up on me.”

At the foundation office in Claremont, Calif., a staff member said Thursday they have never received any complaints from residents. The staff member refused to identify herself and hung up when asked about the barking.

Foundation President Gwen Brown has not returned repeated requests for interviews.

Jean Anderton, who also lives near the facility, said she has heard the dogs barking at all hours. Worse, she said, when she walks her own dogs anywhere near the facility’s grounds, the dogs inside growl ferociously.

“They go berserk,” Anderton said.

It hasn’t always been that way, said neighbors, adding that they have contacted Phoenix officials and are considering putting together a petition. In the past, they said, trainers would walk the dogs through the neighborhood and let them interact with residents. Anderton and Tristan both said the dogs were well-behaved, managed with sincerity and did not bark.

They said the facility was open to the public and you could watch dogs being trained throughout the day. Now, they said, the facility gates are locked, they rarely see any staff, aside from maintenance crews, and the dogs are left to bark.

They say changes occurred about two years ago, which coincides with the time that Brown took over operations.

Since 2007, the foundation has gone through a series of trainers, padlocked the gates of its facility multiple times, and has become embroiled in lawsuits with local volunteers who raise puppies in their homes until the dogs are ready for training.

At the same time, records show that the nonprofit foundation has generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations and interest from stocks and bonds; giving it more than $7 million in assets.

The volunteer puppy raisers say they are concerned the dogs aren’t being trained for the blind and say they are worried about how the dogs are being cared for at the facility. Residents living near the training facility are equally concerned.

“Poor animals,” Tristan said. “It is not their fault.”

I really don’t have words to describe everything I feel about this. I’m beyond appalled. But what I really want to know is WHY there isn’t anything being done about this?! Where is GDUI or NAGDU regarding this? Or even IAADP? How about the other schools throughout the country? The only thing I’ve heard in the last year was that The Seeing Eye was going to do follow-up support for EDF graduates. But I haven’t heard anything regarding what would happen with the dogs. And clearly they are not being treated well. And even if this article is exaggerating about the dogs, and I think it’s more probable that it’s omitting even more grotesque details, why hasn’t the ASPCA or The Humane Society stepped in and done something?

I’m the first to admit that I can get pretty damn preachy about animal rights and humane pet care. And that when it comes to a handler I am even more hypercritical. Dogs especially are an animal that live their entire lives trying to make their humans happy and it goes tenfold more for a handler. And in the case of a guide dog user, we’re talking about an dog by it’s very job description trained to keep that blind person safe! I may have some qualms about certain schools practices, but I generally keep my mouth shut because I feel those schools are at least doing some right by their dogs. This? This is not doing right in any possible definition.

I’m disgusted beyond reason. And incredibly worried about the health and well being of those poor GSDs. There’s just no reason for such a thing to be allowed and overlooked for so long.

Truly This Would Only Happen to Me

In yet another thrilling example of how my life is a sitcom waiting to happen, I broke my cell phone last night. Now, see the kicker is if I’d done what I’d planned to do upon arriving home — calling my dad, filling him on the events at court, and then promptly falling into bed — I wouldn’t have broken the phone.

Rather, I decided to do laundry. And in doing so, I inadvertantely ended up washing my phone. I shit thee not. It’d be way funnier if it hadn’t happened to me. But even still I find myself giggling inappropriately about it.

Strangely I think the phone actually survived, but I do believe the battery is fried. As such, by the time it dried out, I was without any charge (or ability to recharge) and so I’m left with a surprisingly expensive hunk of plastic that needs to be brought to the Sprint Store later today. I’m hopeful I’ll have a fixed or new phone today, but alas my history with such things is that I end up making two trips to the Store before I end up with a fully functioning cell.

Of Rental Drama and Other Things

The continuing saga of the June rent continues, yesterday I was served a court petition for not one, but TWO MONTHS plus late fees. I was so infuriated about the whole thing last night I was physically incapable of forming words. I just don’t even know. My certified letter, containing my bank records of payments sent, was sent Tuesday and has probably arrived but has yet to be signed for. Either way I’ll be attempting to reach the manager again today, but I’m sure I’ll be stonewalled by a certain rental agent . . . or I’ll just get voicemail, again.

Yara sitting beside Fay, who is lying down in the doorway of the playhouse at The Little Book HouseI had a doctor’s appointment yesterday regarding the Migraine of DOOM! I was prescribed Treximet, which surprisingly got rid of the headache within about three hours. I’m still wary of it, I’ve had new meds work and then suddenly stop or randomly give me the worst side effects ever. But for now I’m quite chipper, and without a migraine. So yay for that. Oh, also had some paperwork filled out and signed for work, so hopefully one of my nagging issues with all that will now be resolved.

Since I called the vet, I’ve noticed that Yara hasn’t coughed any more. I’ll probably cancel our appointment, unless she suddenly has issues again.

Also had dinner with Sarah and her roommate Julia. We did a bit of shopping and errand running at Stuyvesant Plaza and I snapped this adorable picture to the right of the girls by the playhouse at The Little Book House. I noticed later that it looks like Yara is holding Fay there because her foot is inside of Fay’s leash!

srsly y me?

Before I start the whinge-fest, I have to take a moment to marvel at some of the bizarre search terms leading people to Gentle Wit. I’m mostly concerned with the ones that start with my name and have something random tagged on, e.g. rude. What gives? I feel mildly stalked.

So, anyhoo, I have all this shit going on with my apartment management . . . again. It’s been so long I forget if I blogged about the beginning of the whole issue (and I’m too lazy to look through the archives to determine), but it stems from way back in June. Every tennant was sent a notice that the address to mail rental payments had changed. In July, I get a call from the rental office saying they’re missing a payment — pressumably from June, as they’d just received a payment — and they figure it was probably due to the fact they gave everyone the wrong address in the aforementioned notice. After my issues from back in october, I’ve been doing bank checks — so I have proof of my payment before they cash the check and it’s returned to me. The downside is that it takes the money directly from my account when I cut the check and it doesn’t deposit back in immediately. So, anyway, I explain this to the rental agent and the next morning I do a stop payment on the check.

In August, I get a notice — called a three-day present — that my rent is late. So I call the rental office and leave a message inquiring about what payment they are missing as I’ve sent them the missing June payment and the rent for August. I state that I need them to call me with the check number so if I have to do a stop payment I know which check to request. I don’t hear anything until last Thursday when I get a voicemail stating that again my rent is late and that the rental office would like to know how I plan to deal with this. So I call again and leave a message stating that (a.) my rent has never been late and (b.) as I hadn’t received a return call last month I assumed they had been paid. I also gave them the option of taking a partial payment to cover the June rent that’s apparently still outstanding or if they would rather wait for the full payment to be available once the funds are returned to my account — after I do another stop payment.

On Saturday I get a letter in the mail that says not only can I not wait to pay the rent in full, but if I don’t pay in full by TODAY that I’ll be petitioned for a court appearance and face eviction. It goes on to accuse me of paying my rent late every month since June and there’s a ledger attached for my account which shows payments arriving on time, sans June, but they attribute them to the month prior. (I noted that while the letter states I’m late and the ledger is posting my payments for different months, never has there been a late payment fee added, so I maintain my assertion of never paying late. Thank you.) It also goes so far as to say that the rental office contacted me in June, July and August regarding this issue — which as I explained above is a total load. And then goes on to say how I’ve been “petitioned to pay past due rent on several occasions.” That last bit nearly sent me through the rough, especially when one considers that the ONE SINGLE time they petitioned me I only went to court because the rental agent told me explicitly that if I didn’t pay them the full $750 (that I’d already paid) by close of buisness the day before the court date that I’d have no choice but to appear before a judge. And then while I’m there the manager herself tells me to my face that’s not how things work — “we always work with our tennants” — and how these court appearances are as big of an inconvenience to her as the tennant.

I can’t even express how absolutely pissed I am about all this. I left another message over the weekend at the rental office, asking for a call back from the manager (which probably won’t happen) and wrote a lengthy letter detailing all of the above (in much calmer tones) and adding in that it seems quiite unfair that the office won’t work with me when (a.) I did in fact pay them twice and (b.) there are several problems in my apartment that I’ve filed maintanence orders for that have not been addressed for over a YEAR.

I plan on calling again the moment they open and if I can’t speak with the manager, I’m mailing the letter off.

On Going Stuffs

I am beside myself with interesting tidbits that I wish to share, so it stands to reason that I’ll no doubt forget half of them before finishing this post. It doesn’t help that I’ve been interrupted about every third word. Also I’m finding myself distracted by my own levels of revulsion at some of the antics going on around me at work. Not surprisingly the annoyances are not “work-related” in the least, which only compounds my irritation. I’ll not even bother to go into all of that here; truly you aren’t missing much, I assure you of that.

In a move similar to my awesome thriftiness in book-buying via eBay, I scored myself a new bed from a fellow neighbor who’s moving next week, for a whopping $1001! I’ve already rearranged the bedroom to accommodate the new, larger bed and make space for my old bed once it’s been dismantled. And after a rather confusing phone call, Dad confirmed that he is coming “sometime” to pick up the old bed, which is rightfully his and well worth keeping as it’s part of a set.

Oh, and if you’re curious, yes I am still working on whittling down my to-be-read pile. Though, at the rate I keep acquiring new reads, I’m mostly treading water as it were in terms of making the pile smaller. But it’s so hard to ignore all those good reads out there waiting to be snatched up. Also, my completest (or compulsive) nature requires that I obtain any future editions in a series . . . though, admittedly there have been series I’ve given up on as the later contributions have proved lackluster2 or just plain awful.3

Actually that specific issue has caused me a bit of glee, in a macabre sense, as I get to justify adding to my box of library donations and free up some much needed shelf space for all those books that don’t suck. The only sad thing is the “box” is actually getting to the point where I may need a small caravan to transport it to the library. Kind of sad since it’s only up the street from my office.

And, since a post wouldn’t be complete without some anecdotal Yara, I must tell you that she continues her Dog-dini escapades. She’s now gotten out of her harness 25 times! [EDIT: Sorry, 26 times. She wiggled out again while I wrote this post.] Yesterday she practically broke my heart with her cuteness while we were at work. I’ve mentioned a fair few times how she is most content when she has a toy of hers to carry around. This has transcended to become a need to show off her toy to others, specifically people she knows well. So, yesterday afternoon she was underfoot pawing around under my desk and emerged with a tennis ball that was lodged behind some file boxes. And how proud a pup was she to have discovered a “new” toy, so of course after she nosed me all over to show me, she ran off to show my friend Sharon (who sits at the end of my row of desks) . . . except Sharon wasn’t at her desk and this was most clearly defeating to Yara because she practically crawled back to me, ears laid back, tail tucked under. Poor girl. I did tell Sharon about the incident when she returned and she made a great show of being excited about the newly discovered old ball when Yara did finally show it off to her.

In EPI-related news, she’s still being pretty good about consistently eating, albeit very slowly. I don’t really know what’s up with that, but I have noticed that since the very first time I started adding the enzyme to her food she’s had occasional fits of dry-heaving. I mentioned it to Dr. Gundersen once and we theorized it was probably from all the powdered meds not being fully absorbed in her food and causing grit to be in the back of her throat. And while these small “fits” have certainly decreased since she was taken off the other meds, she’s still been having them now and again. The last few weeks I’ve noticed it fairly often, but kept forgetting (until just now) to call the vet about my slight concern. Since she’s not actually coughing anything up there isn’t a major rush to bring her in straight away, which is good since my current vet is on vacation this week.

And while I am sure there were many other things I wanted to share I am hereby giving up battling the 400 thousand interruptions that have plagued me while writing this all out. I leave you with this — NYC trip in TWO MONTHS! W00T!!!

  1. This includes the “tip” I’ll be giving the super for graciously helping to move and put together said bed.
  2. Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter books have sadly fallen into this category. I’m all for demons and supernatural, but it just is a strange turn for this crime fiction.
  3. Not even worth mentioning these names.