Big responsibilities face new guide dog 04/11/2007
To the Editor:
I accepted a wonderful employment position and relocated to Pottsville Monday. Although the job will be demanding and has tremendous responsibility, it
also has wonderful fringe benefits ? great food, superior health care, fantastic play time and lots and lots of love.
My predecessor is retiring after nine years of devotion in this honorable position, which would equate to about 63 years of service in a dog?s life.
I accepted the new position of the Freedom Guide Dog assigned to keep Lenny McHugh safe.
Many of you knew Indy, unfortunately due to health issues, he had to retire. Indy has gone to live in a wonderful retirement setting where
he will become a lay-in-the-sun much loved family pet.
I will take my new job very seriously; obviously I have some big paw prints to fill.
Sorry, but at this time I won?t allow Lenny to reveal my name to anyone except his family. It is so important during our bonding and learning to work as
a well-oiled machine that I am not distracted by someone saying my name when we are out and about. I may lose my concentration, resulting in disastrous
Also, it is very important that no one ever tries to pet me when I am working. If Lenny allows that to happen, I could become distracted and we could end
up getting hurt.
People get in trouble for not paying attention at work and so it is with us guide dogs.
I think it is irresponsible of people to snap their fingers or make clicking sounds when they see us working dogs. Even worse, when someone does that or
pets me, Lenny has no idea what happened and I receive a leash correction.
My last request is very difficult. I would really appreciate it if people do not make eye contact or talk to me. This makes me want to socialize instead
of working and bonding with Lenny. This trust building will take a few months. We must develop a special bond where Lenny will trust my judgment to keep
him safe. Likewise, I must develop the belief that he truly trusts and will care for me.
Also, it will take a while for Lenny to learn to ?dance?? with me. If you watch world-class ballroom dancers, they are so graceful gliding along the floor.
So it must be with us, as partners. Lenny must learn to follow my lead so we can gracefully work around obstacles and people. Thus the term dancing with
dogs ? I lead and Lenny follows. If I am distracted by people or other dogs, it impacts the development of this beautiful choreography.
I have spent many hours in training learning to ignore animals when I am at work. When I am in harness, working, please do not bring your pets up to me
so they can greet me.
Thank you for all your help in making my relocation easier. I hope to have a long working relationship with Lenny in this wonderful community.
Like Indy, if Lenny feels that I am ready in a few weeks, I will be willing to go to schools, churches or meetings for educational purposes. Lenny looks
forward to talking about blindness and especially explaining about dog guides ? my favorite part, where he will show me off. You will be able to contact
Leonard McHugh at 622-6214
My alma mater, Freedom Guide Dogs, is the smallest school with the biggest heart. It exists only by donations and it takes $20,000 to breed, raise, train,
instruct and maintain continued technical support for the life of guide dogs like Indy and me. Freedom also has this unique home training program.
If you would like to donate to this wonderful school to help have another dog like Indy or me trained to help a blind individual, please contact Freedom
Guide Dogs for the Blind, 1210 Hardscrabble Road, Cassville, N.Y. 13318
Freedom Guide Dog
c/o Lenny McHugh
ŠThe REPUBLICAN & Herald 2007
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