Safe and Sound

Yesterday was National Seeing Eye Dog Day. We celebrated this day by visiting a third grade classroom and educating them a bit about guide dogs. Most of the kids in Glen Rose know something about working dogs from knowing me and Walker. They all know our tales of being guide dog pups in training. All the kids who knew me as a pup have moved on to college now. I’m into another bunch of young folks altogether! New ones to educate.

Copy of IMG_1536So we took Electra along in her official coat that says she’s a guide dog pup. We took her coat off while in the classroom so the kids could pet. No petting allowed when in coat! Just like a working dog in harness! NO PETTING! And we took a great little book about a working guide dog to help us tell our tale.

IMG_2353Safe and Sound
by Beth Finke
illustrated by Anthony Alex LeTourneau
published by Blue Marlin Publications in 2007

Theme – Guide dogs

This book is suitable for all ages, young and old. 3rd grade was perfect!

It begins –
Look at me! See the harness strapped to my back? I’m called a Seeing Eye dog. The harness is my uniform, and whenever I’m wearing it, I’m working. I guide my partner, Beth, where she needs to go.

This is Hanni’s story of her job keeping Beth safe in a world full of obstacles. Traffic, crowds of people, holes in the sidewalk, garbage cans, tree branches. Whew!!! It’s a crazy world out there and a guide dog must be ever vigilant!

IMG_2356This book presents a great picture of what it’s like to be a working dog. It’s about the job at hand, but the story is also about the relationship between Beth and Hanni. How they had to learn to trust each other because both their lives depended on that trust. How that trust was the foundation for a deep love. It’s a lovely tale.

At the end of the book there are some factual notes from Hanni about her life from pup to working guide dog. And some notes from Beth about how she became blind from juvenile diabetes and what life is like as a blind person.

There is also a list of references for further reading.
This book is also available in Braille. To learn more about Braille visit this website HERE. You might learn how to write your name in Braille!

The Learning to Give website has some good ideas for ways to use this book in a classroom. You can visit them HERE.

We had a great discussion in our classroom about how working dogs help their handlers. What senses the dogs use to do their job. You could let kids pretend they were blind and try to maneuver around the classroom. And then let someone else be their guide dog.

If there is a guide dog school near you, you might pay them a visit. Maybe even volunteer! Southeastern Guide Dogs has puppy hugging days. And volunteers come in to walk the dogs that are in training. You can find a list of guide dog schools HERE. This is the website for the National Federation for the Blind. You can find out more about blindness there as well.

For more about juvenile diabetes visit HERE.

This is PERFECT PICTURE BOOK FRIDAY. For a list of more Perfect Picture Books visit Ms Susanna Hill’s blog – you’ll be glad you did!!

A guide dog faces all kinds of obstacles! —

Have a Safe and Sound weekend!!!
Your friend
Rhythm
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National Seeing Eye Dog Day

img431Today, January 29, is National Seeing Eye Dog Day. A day to recognize the JOY that is a working guide dog. A seeing eye dog becomes the eyes for someone who cannot see. They become an unbeatable team!

Michael Jernigan_Brittani-web

Michael Jernigan and his guide dog Brittani

It all started with a serendipitous intertwining of a few forward thinking individuals. A lot of veterans came away from the terror that was World War I, blinded and in need of assistance. A school was set up in Germany to train German Shepherd Dogs to assist these veterans. An American lady, Ms Dorothy Eustis, happened to be in Switzerland and learned about this German school. She was so impressed that in 1927 she wrote an article for “The Saturday Evening Post” about these “seeing eye dogs.” And she began her own training school. In America, a blind man, Mr Morris Frank was read the article by his father and he decided that a seeing eye dog was just what he needed! He contacted Ms Eustis to see if he could come train with her and receive one of her dogs. He promised to come back to the United States and teach others.

morris-frank-and-buddy-2In 1928 Buddy, the German Shepherd, became the first seeing eye dog in the United States and Mr Frank was the first blind person in the US to use a seeing eye dog! And in 1929 The Seeing Eye Guide Dog School was established in Nashville, Tennesseee. In 1966 the school moved to its present location, Morristown, New Jersey. It is the oldest existing guide dog school in the US.

I came from a Guide Dog school, myself. Southeastern Guide Dogs in Palmetto, Florida.

img338That ultimately was not my destiny, but we stay connnected to the school and continue to raise pups for them. Our little Dogzilla, Electra, is one such pup. And we also like to educate folks about guide dogs.

jolly last day 004This is our friend Mr Allen Preston and his guide dog Jolly doing a presentation at our school. Jolly was a pup that we raised for Southeastern Guide Dogs and ultimately for Mr Preston.

For more information about Guide Dogs visit The National Association of Guide Dog Users website HERE.

For more information about blindness visit the National Federation of the Blind website HERE.

To find out what day to day life is like for a working guide dog team visit Jo and Wiley at their blog Daily Life of a Guide Dog HERE.

Find out more about Michael Jernigan HERE and HERE.

And here is Mr Morris Frank in his own words —

I hope that you will do a little research today and learn what you can about Seeing Eye Dogs and the kind of difference they make in a blind person’s life.

Wishing you a day of thankful independence!
Your friend
Rhythm
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Looking Out for Sarah, a guide dog’s job —

Today we’re going to be joining Susanna Leonard Hill and her Perfect Picture Book Friday.

I want to introduce you to my favorite book – Looking Out for Sarah. This book is written and illustrated by Glenna Lang.

Here are some other useful details from the book:
It’s a non-fiction book published in 2001 by Charlesbridge Publishing. It would be suitable reading for kids in kindergarten thru elementary school. And for dogs who care about their people!

My Mom Person got this book for me when I was a wee pup. She read it to me often and told me that this is what my life would be someday. Things didn’t really work out that way tho. I didn’t become a guide dog. But I have an important job just the same. Looking out for my Mom Person!

The book, Looking Out for Sarah, tells us about Perry, the guide dog, and his days taking care of his person, Sarah. It begins in the morning as Perry is waiting for Sarah to wake up. I like when it says, “A wag filled Perry’s tail and traveled up his back.”  He loves his Sarah. Perry guides Sarah through her very busy day, ignoring yummy food on the sidewalk, watching out for obstacles and traffic, and waiting while Sarah does the things she has to do. They go shopping, ride the train, and visit school — just like me!!  But the book isn’t just about how Perry takes care of Sarah — it’s also about how Sarah takes care of Perry. They are a working team, dependent on each other.

This book could provide a good opportunity to have talks about blind people and other people who might be different in some way. They still do all the same stuff everybody does.  There might be a guide dog school near you with puppy raisers or trainers who could come visit your school. We have some puppy raiser friends who love to talk about their pups!  You could get some really good info about blind people and all the cool stuff they have to help them get around in the world from the National Federation of the Blind  . You could also have a talk about our senses and how if one doesn’t work too well, you have to rely on others. You know, dogs have a really really good sense of smell! And here’s one more link to a site that has a lesson plan using another book about a guide dog, Safe and Sound.

Look for Looking Out for Sarah at your library! And check it out! You’ll be glad you did!