The Braille Monitor                                                                                               __May 1997

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A Note from the Canine Concerns Committee

by Ed and Toni Eames

From the Editor: Those who attended the 1996 Convention of the National Federation of the Blind will remember what a fine job Ed and Toni Eames did organizing the dog-relief areas and otherwise assisting guide dog users. They have styled themselves the Canine Concerns Committee and are moving forward to insure that arrangements for dogs will be as good in New Orleans this year. Here is their good advice for users:

Preparations are underway to make the 1997 Convention in New Orleans the best ever. As co-chairs of the National Canine Concerns Committee (CCC), we have been working with the national and state leadership to ensure the experience will be as pleasant for our canine partners as it will be for us. The indoor relief areas at the Hyatt and Radisson are modeled after last year's pattern developed in Anaheim. A group of volunteers will be available to greet you when you first arrive and escort you and your guide dog to the designated relief areas. Specific information about local veterinary care and other canine concerns will be provided in the pre-convention information packet.

Arrangements have been made to provide a dog sitting service for those wanting to leave their dogs in the hotel while taking advantage of the many wonderful New Orleans tours.

Convention time can be stressful for us and our guide dogs. We have developed several techniques to diminish this stress while attending conferences. Many of us need time out from the hectic pace and excitement of convention activities, and our dogs may need equivalent time to relax and play with toys in our hotel rooms.

Keeping to a busy convention schedule frequently resembles a juggling act, but we try to keep our dogs on their regular relief schedules. Before eating breakfast, our first priority is getting Escort and Echo to the designated relief area. To avoid the rush of the crowds, we try to arrive at scheduled sessions early. This also gives us the opportunity to talk with friends and other members of our state delegation. To avoid the crush in elevators, we try to use stairways whenever possible, which also provides needed exercise for us and our dogs. Although our mealtimes may be irregular, we try to keep our dogs on a feeding schedule resembling the routine we have at home. When we travel, we measure each meal into a plastic bag. After the dogs eat, the bag can be used for pick-up. In case of lost or delayed luggage, we carry a day's supply of dog food in our carry-on bag.

Part of the fun of convention time is meeting old friends and making new acquaintances. However, this
excitement may be stimulating for our dogs, so we take time to put them at a "sit stay" before becoming engrossed in deep conversations. This is particularly useful in the exhibit area, where our attention is on the exhibits rather than on our dogs. To ensure the dog's safety as well as the comfort of other Federationists, we place our dogs at a "sit stay" between us and the exhibit tables.

The Canine Concerns Committee, with the encouragement of those responsible for the National Convention, is doing its part to plan for the needs of guide dog users, but we as guide dog users have to play our part as well. Please use the designated relief areas and always pick up after your dog. Assistance will be available for those who need to learn the technique of picking up. Accidents can and do happen. If your dog should have an accident outside the relief area, please stay nearby and have someone contact the hotel housekeeping staff.

New Orleans is known for gourmet food, great music, and gobs of fleas. Fortunately, in the last few years a number of effective flea control products have become available. Your veterinarian can assist you in selecting the most appropriate treatment for your dog. Starting your dog on a flea control program before convention will avoid problems during your stay in New Orleans and after your return home.

Comments, concerns, and complaints should be reported to Ed and Toni Eames, Canine Concerns co-chairs, or Pam Dubel, convention guide dog contact person for Louisiana, all of whom will be staying at the Hyatt.

Have you considered making a gift to the National Federation of the Blind through a living trust? Such a trust can offer you more flexibility than a will. Although similar to a will, it is a repository for assets, which can be distributed to a charity and heirs. This method might well provide you with significant cost savings and asset protection. A living trust is also beneficial to people concerned with complete privacy since none of the terms of trust are part of the public record. Unlike a will, from a living trust asset distribution is almost immediate, avoiding extensive probate delays.

For more information contact the National Federation of the Blind, Special Gifts, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230-4998, (410) 659-9314, fax (410) 685-5653.