Written Thursday, March 20, 2008

To The Editor

By

Leonard A. McHugh

This letter was published in the Pottsville Republican & Evening Herald on Friday, March 21, 2008.

To the Editor,

I would like to thank Mrs. Fiddler and her 4th grade class at John S. Clark elementary school, Pottsville for inviting me and my Freedom Guide Dog as a guest speaker on Thursday, March20,2008. The class had just completed reading the book Mom's Best Friend by Sally Hobart Alexander, a story about a girl that had to replace her guide dog.

Mrs. Fiddler thought it would be helpful for the students to meet an actual working guide dog partner team. The students learned how important it is that no one should ever pet a service dog when it is working. I explained to the students that if someone were to pet my guide he could forget about watching for steps or a car and we both could get hurt. These great kids had some very thoughtful questions some of which confirmed what was in the story. These kids asked questions that no other group has and I believe it is a direct result of reading the book. They also witnessed my Freedom Guide Dog changing personality from working to play modes. When he is in harness he is in work mode and his personality immediately changes when the harness is removed.

The questions led to another learning experience about Braille and how blind or visually challenged people do things. They had some hands on experience examining a Braille book and a little discussion about talking computers and tools.

I believe that it is so important to educate people about the rules of a service dog. I asked the class if they ever see a working team to tell their parents, brothers and sisters or friends not to pet or talk to the dog. It was a great pleasure to talk to Mrs. Fiddler's class. The students were so very respectful and well behaved. I am very grateful for the opportunity given to me to talk to her class. I always welcome any opportunity to talk about my Freedom Guide Dog or blindness education to groups in the area.

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