June 2017 E-News
30 Years of Saving Dogs
1989 Lucky The Amazing Hearing Dog
Hearing Dog “Lucky” with his partners Don, Jo Ann Adkins
By Jo Ann Adkins
In 1988, Don and I met Alice Morewitz and her Hearing Dog Kalbi, the first Hearing Dog trained by what was then called Texas Hearing Dogs, now called Service Dogs, Inc. (SDI). That led Don and me, who were both deaf, to be interested in having our own Hearing Dog.
In 1989, we received Lucky. He was the second certified dog trained by SDI. At the time my hearing son was a teenager. The trainers made sure he understood that Lucky was responsible for answering the phone, door, etc. Lucky was the perfect name for him because SDI rescued the best dog that the animal shelter was going to put to sleep. Lucky did an excellent job signalling the sounds for us. We fell in love with Lucky like family and appreciated him. He was beautiful black cocker spaniel mix.
Lucky alerted us to extra unusual noises that he was not trained for. We followed him every time he jumped on our leg to get our attention and guide us to where the noise was. One time the water was running in the kitchen sink so long that it got his attention. Another time there was a fire truck in the parking lot in front of our town house and he was barking and led us to the front door. We realized something was wrong. He didn’t usually bark if someone knocked on the door, he would just lead us to the door. But barking meant something else. The firemen were warning us that there was a gas leak. Thanks to Lucky, we were okay.
Another time our son was not home. It was raining really hard and his bedroom door was closed. Don and I were in the living room. Lucky was barking like crazy at my son’s bedroom door. Then Lucky jumped on Don’s lap while we were watching T.V. We got up and he led us to the bedroom. We checked it and found out the window had been broken by a big tree branch. Just in time to put plywood over the window that night, before the furniture and bed would have been ruined.
Another time Don took Lucky for a ride. Lucky always sat in back seat. All of sudden Lucky touched his paw on Don’s shoulder and was barking. Don looked around and noticed an ambulance far behind him on the way. He pulled over for the ambulance to pass.
Lucky knew our names, Don and Jo Ann. Every time, one of us would say, “Go get Don or Jo Ann”, Lucky would get one of us and we would follow him back to the other person.
Our favorite story is the toilet paper story. Don and I loved to play Scrabble. We played it all the time. One day we had the house to ourselves and my son was out visiting friends. We were playing scrabble in the living room. Lucky was lying on the floor beside us like always. While waiting for my turn, Don was still thinking of a word and taking forever, so I went to the guest restroom. When I was done, I realized there was no toilet paper.
I called Lucky and when he came, I gave him the empty toilet paper roll. I put it in his mouth and told him, “Go get Don”.
I was expecting Don to bring the toilet paper but instead it was Lucky who brought it. I laughed and loved it.
Lucky was a very special dog. We took him everywhere, traveling, motels, beaches, and restaurants with never a problem. Except for one restaurant in 1991. Don, and I with two of our good friends, who were also deaf, went to a Kettle restaurant in Houston on way back home to Austin from Galveston. The manager refused to serve us because of our Hearing Dog. We even showed him our ID card with our and Lucky’s picture on the front and the reference to the Texas law and Americans With Disabilities Act on the back, but he still refused us.
Don said to him see you in court, the manager said sure no problem. He thought we were joking. Don informed Sheri Soltes and from there we went to Houston criminal court and won the case. Lucky proved himself in court showing he could respond to sign language, behave in public and alert Don to the sounds of his pager beeping.The jury fined the restaurant owner $100 for discrimination against people with disabilities. The judge then raised the fine to $1000!
Lucky won the award of Dog of the Year in 1991.
Lucky lived till the year of 2000. For our family and us, Lucky will never be forgotten.
Chaco Cheers Children In Crisis
Editor’s Note: Chaco is a Courthouse Dog specially trained by Service Dogs, Inc. to help children entering the legal system. Living and working with Victims Assistance staff member Jane Hanisee, Chaco, comforts children when they have to talk about abuse to courthouse staff or testify in court, often facing a family member as defendant. Visit Chaco’s Facebook page, Chaco, the DA Dog!
Courthouse Dogs differ from Therapy Dogs. When children are interviewed about abuse or other crimes, those interviews are confidential. Therefore, a volunteer with a Therapy Dog is not allowed in the room, and the Therapy Dog needs to have its owner with it. The Courthouse Dog also has special training to be very quiet when on the witness stand with a child. This is because the jury is not supposed to know the child has a dog with it in case the jury is influenced in the child’s favor. The jury’s view of Chaco is blocked of by the sides of the witness stand, but the Courthouse Dog must still be very quiet and still. Although Chaco’s main purpose is to assist with children, he has made it a point to reach out to anyone in need.
Although Chaco’s main purpose is to assist with children, he has made it a point to reach out to anyone in need.
Chaco has fallen in line with his duties seamlessly. Within our first week as a team, Chaco was spending time with children awaiting their time to testify. Chaco spends his time being petted, scratched, stroked or just lying next to the children making them feel less alone and intimidated in such an adult environment.
The children find comfort in just knowing Chaco is around, whether he is lying with them or escorting them to the courtrooms. It was surprising to me how Chaco knew who in the room needed his attention. He made sure to approach and lay right next to the children who were most uncomfortable.
Chaco has had several shining moments already since his return that makes me certain he is right where he needs to be. In his second week back, he met a teenager who seemed calm and composed, but Chaco knew better. He approached her as she sat on the floor and laid down with his head flopped into her lap. She began to talk to Chaco, telling him how he was her best friend and knew just how she was feeling. She began to cry and after testifying immediately asked to see Chaco before she left. She was so relieved it was over and wanted Chaco to know that she was okay.
Chaco also assisted with a young girl under 10. She laid next to him, held his paw like she was holding a hand and stroked all thefur along this legs. Although she was there to talk about things she was scared to talk about, she was able to laugh while interacting with Chaco. Thanks to Chaco, for a few moments this little girl was able to escape from the stress of being here.
It made my heart melt when after her trial was over, she asked if she could come back tomorrow just to see Chaco. Chaco gave her a safe space in an otherwise scary place.
Although Chaco’s main purpose is to assist with children, he has made it a point to reach out to anyone in need. During meetings with adults, if a person begins to cry, Chaco approaches them and gently places his head in their lap as if to say, it’s OK. He just knows who needs him and when. In fact, in a courtroom full of crying people, Chaco can not help but continue to look around and look back to me as if to say, I am needed, we should do something!
I am so proud of him and look forward to working with him as he touches and uplifts the souls of those most in need in Montgomery County.
YESDOG Service Dog Access Guide
By Sheri Soltes, Founder and President, Service Dogs, Inc.
Is that a Service Dog?
Dogs in stores, on planes, in restaurants, in hotels – is that okay?
With more people getting Assistance Dogs comes more people who either think their dog is an Assistance Dog (and it’s not) or who are trying to pretend their dog is an Assistance Dog, and it’s definitely not.
Who is that a problem for? Everyone!
People with disabilities who use legitimate Assistance Dogs (Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs, Service Dogs, Seizure Dogs, etc.) face suspicion and sometimes outright discrimination from managers, restaurant owners, hospital staffs and other business employees that prevent them from entering the business with their dogs.
Businesses are not sure what to ask, how to tell a real Assistance Dog from someone trying to pass off a pet because they want the fun of getting away with something or they are trying to avoid a pet deposit.
The public because fake Assistance Dogs can be not only poorly behaved but actually vicious because their lack of training makes being in public scary for them so they react by biting.
The laws are confusing. There is the Americans With Disabilities Act, the state laws and special laws that apply to federal buildings, airplanes, cruise ships and housing.
What do you do if someone won’t let you into a business with you Assistance Dog? Who do you call? Can you take them to court? How do you do that?
What is someone brings a fake Assistance Dog into your business? How can you tell? What are you allowed to ask them? What can you do if you think it’s a fake Assistance Dog? What can you do if the dog is acting inappropriately, like barking, eating food off the floor, acting wild?
What if you are traveling, how do you find out the law in other places?
How do you keep track of all the times people with real Assistance Dogs get denied access so you can get stronger laws passed?
Well, for our 30th Anniversary, Service Dogs, Inc. is rolling out an answer to all these questions. We – with your help – are creating a mobile website than anyone can use on their smartphone. Meet YESDOG. YESDOG tells you:
- The law that applies wherever you are
- What to do if someone denies you public access
- What business can ask someone who says their dog is an Assistance Dog
- What to do if the dog behaves inappropriately
- How to report an incident that will go into a data bank to influence future lawmaking
The mobile website costs $100,000 to design. While we have applied for foundation grants to fund YESDOG, we can use your help to chip in.
Please consider making a tax deductible donation to YESDOG today!
Say Yes to YESDOG!