Monday was our monthly meeting with the South Bay Puppy Raisers and we had a guest speaker. Lorri Bernson is a spokeswomen for GDA. Lorri is blind from childhood diabetes and is now with her second dog, Carter. Carter is a Lab/Golden mix and is in the 80 pound range. While listening to Lorri, I understood how special these dogs are and how important puppy raisers are to the program. Lorri has been on different local news shows spotlighting GDA and service dogs in particular. Just last night, she was on KNBC news talking about how people who are not really disabled are using the ruse of their pet being a service dog. ADA is for "people" with disabilities, not for dogs to be taken everywhere for their owners pleasure. Unfortunately, it really puts people with true disabilities in the awkward position of sometimes having to prove to shop owners and others that they have a service dog and not a therapy dog. Here is a link you can copy to see this story. Also, about 56 seconds into the story, our Dylan is shown with our puppy sitter Georgia.
Lorri has a sense of humor that puts everyone at ease. Her stories about sighted people's interaction with her were hilarious. For example, while talking on the phone to a customer service rep, the rep discovered Lorri was blind and complimented her by saying, "you don't sound blind." The other is a common mistake people make when greeting blind people whom they know. "Hi Lorri, how are you?" She said, "I can play 20 questions, but it's easier if you identify who you are."
|Us with Lorri and her guide dog Carter|
The other topic discussed was fund raising. GDA supplies dogs free of charge to their new owners. The cost of training just one of these dogs is about $42,000. And, as many as 50% of the dogs don't make it due to a number reasons; temperament, distractibility and sometimes health reasons disqualify these great animals.