Reader’s Forum – Week of February 19, 2013

For your convenience, all Reader’s Forum submissions are separated by the ## symbol.

In response to Feature Writer Steven Famiglietti – Wrongly Accused, Patti wrote:

I have had guide dogs for 28 years and have seen changes in training I can’t agree with. To my way of thinking we’re too eager to soft soap and coddle, and the dog doesn’t understand like in the older days, that there are consequences of wrong behavior. This to me means they don’t have the respect they used to for what they do. This of course is just my take on it, and I know everybody is different.

I had a lady follow me all the way to the vets office one day and halfway back because she thought my dog “frightened” because I corrected her for scavenging.

She did research till she found a school that used the breed of dog I had and called on me. My school knew well enough that I was a good handler and therefore weren’t concerned about her call, especially when she gave them the line about how she’d seen guide dogs on TV and knew how they were trained. Sure, lady.

However, I think back to my first dog and how one of the instructors pulled me aside one day to show me how to give an effective leash correction. I didn’t understand it then but I do now. I have had very stubborn dogs in my time and I will correct with no apologies if they get defiant and belligerent with me; but I am grateful to have a dog that normally only needs a voice correction.

The muscle in the dog’s neck is a strong one, and a leash correction, done properly, will not hurt the dog and the general public just refuses to understand that. Just as they think paddling a misbehaving child is wrong, I believe that has its place too; but that’s another subject.

I had a friend who, when confronted by someone questioning why she corrected her dog, said, “Until you are on the other end of this leash and harness, you really can’t tell me how to handle my dog.” I thought she stated it well.

I am what you may term as “old school,” and as I say, wont’ hesitate to give a good correction when warranted, but my dog is also very much loved and cherished, and she knows it.
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In response to Feature Writer Steven Famiglietti – Wrongly Accused, Shelley wrote:

I can completely identify with this problem. We, I believe, as guide dog users, need to be cognizant of the general public’s feelings about correction. At the same time, I feel that it is important to be careful not to over react to the situation at hand.

I do believe in leash corrections, but only after a verbal correction has not been effective. I am equally concerned that many guide dog schools now have for the most part done away with leash corrections altogether. In my view, verbal corrections are again usually quite effective, depending on each individual dog and its temperament, but sometimes a leash correction is necessary. I have heard through the guide dog grapevine, so to speak, that some of the schools are leaning toward no leash corrections and no more slip collars, called choke chains by some. In the other extreme, the constant rewarding with treats for every little thing is equally as frustrating to me.

Yes, we need to take the concerns of the general public into consideration, but the bottom line is that the dog is trained to keep us safe, not to put on a dog show. Besides this I want my great little guide to work for and take care of me because she loves me, not because she is getting a yummy treat.
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In response to Feature Writer Karen Crowder – 1978 All Over Again, Jan wrote:

I also live in Massachusetts and remember the blizzard of 78 very well. It seems like yesterday.

I still love the changing seasons and would not want to live in a warmer climate year-round. I can’t handle extreme heat. Karen was correct. The weather forecasts are much more accurate than they were back then. I don’t agree with our governor in most of his decisions, but he was right on when he declared a state of emergency before the storm hit. Making sure there were few vehicles on the road saved a lot of headaches that occurred 35 years ago.

I don’t think people realize that there are choices out there and that it is not necessary to have your land line connected to your TV cable. I don’t have cable, but if I did, I would refuse to have things set up that way, even though it could be cheaper to do so. You have less of a chance of losing phone service if you do not use a phone service that uses a backup battery or voice over internet protocol.
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In response to comments submitted about the wireless keyboard that Lynne Tatum uses, she responded with:

I happened to see in the Reader’s Forum that someone wanted the name of the wireless keyboard.
It’s the ARC Wireless keyboard, by Microsoft.

Regards,
Lynne

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