[nagdu] National Convention--my opinion

Mary Wurtzel marywurtzel at att.net
Wed Jul 10 15:55:24 UTC 2013

I hadn't seen this message before I wrote mine.  I guess I should have asked
more people what to do when Felix wouldn't use the relief box.  I am really

Could someone please post again the time and number for the convention
debriefing meeting?  Thanks.

-----Original Message-----
From: nagdu [mailto:nagdu-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of National
Association of Guide Dog Users
Sent: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 7:34 AM
To: 'NAGDU Mailing List, the National Association of Guide Dog Users'
Subject: Re: [nagdu] National Convention--my opinion

	We appreciate your input and are always looking for ways to make the
experience better for guide dog users at convention. Please plan on joining
our teleconference on Sunday to offer your observations and suggestions. As
for the relief area,, though they are rather small, there were three of
them: One at the Rosen Plaza, one outside the convention side of the Rosen
Center, and another on the guest room side. They are filled with a 50/50 mix
of cedar and pine chips, are policed and cleaned regularly, and completely
refreshed at least twice during the week. 
	The relief areas are challenging with nearly 400 guide dog teams in
one place and there are some things we will work on changing next year and
in the years to come. It requires everyone to be proactive and cooperate
with us. I know there are some who refuse to use the boxes for various
reasons; however, the reality is that we need to be respectful and
considerate of the hotel property. With so many dogs in one place, it would
be very damaging to the landscape to relieve our dogs in nondesignated
areas. Imagine the scent of 400 dogs relieving themselves in an area that is
not refreshable and the effect so much urine would have on the grass and
plants! When we are the only one in a hotel, this may be a different story,
but getting 400 dogs together makes for some modifications to our sense of
	The relief boxes are paid for from the general fund of the NFB,
commonly referred to as the 'White Cane Fund". It costs approximately $3500
each year to provide the boxes which includes the materials and the labor to
build, maintain, and remove them. Each year NAGDU takes up donations during
our meetings and, this year, we had a donation box at our exhibit hall
table. We collected $340 which we are donating to the white Cane Fund on
behalf of NAGDU.
	Since we will be in Orlando for the next few years, we are seeking a
place that would be willing to either donate the wood chips or sell them to
us at a discounted price. This would also save on the transportation of
these materials and the mess caused when one of those bags explodes on the
	As for the accidents, there are some things we can do to help
minimize them. I believe one real issue that contributes to having accidents
is a change in the water. You know what they say about drinking the water in
Monezuma? Well, changes in water may make an animal's stool more loose than
usual. Even the difference between Tampa's and Orlando's water, I think,
caused our dog's stools to be softer! We also have very different schedules
while at convention and our relief schedules are a part of that! Coupling
these changes with the stress our dogs feel while working in very crowded
areas with white canes in their faces all day long, we really need to
relieve our dogs more frequently and give them a little more time to
	Again, I would like to hear from those who attended convention about
what we did well and what we can do better. Please plan to join us on Sunday
for our convention debriefing meeting!

Fraternally yours,

Marion Gwizdala, President
National Association of Guide Dog Users Inc.
National Federation of the Blind
(813) 626-2789 (Office)
888-NAGDU411 (Hotline
President at nagdu.org


-----Original Message-----
From: nagdu [mailto:nagdu-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Danielle A.
Sent: Tuesday, July 09, 2013 3:47 PM
To: nagdu at nfbnet.org
Subject: [nagdu] National Convention--my opinion

Hi everyone,

It was awesome meeting some of you at convention last week. Valla and I
didn't attend Monday night's NAGDU meeting because she got snapped at by not
1 but 2 dogs. I'm the first to admit that she did distract on these other
dogs but I corrected and we were almost past them when they jumped out from
under their handlers' chairs and tried to come at her. Needless to say, she
was way too wound up to go anywhere after that.
Anyway, I noticed a lot of things during the week that shocked me, made me
think and made me very happy. First of all, I'll say that this was my first
convention so I don't know if some of these things are commonplace at
convention or not. I was sort of shocked by the size of the park area for
the dogs. It was about the size of a single parking space and from what I
understand, there were a couple hundred dogs in attendance. I felt that this
was way too small of a space for all those dogs. Not to mention that it's
filled with sand which gets pretty sludgy with waste and rain water. Valla
wouldn't set foot in the box and I didn't blame her. As I understand it, the
White Cane fund takes care of the park areas and I also am aware that it
costs money to set up these relief areas. Is there anything that we as a
division can be doing to make the area bigger or cleaner? Furthermore, as
the week went on, I noticed a lot of accidents near the escalators that were
just left behind for someone else to clean up. Valla had her accidents as
well; I'm not saying that they don't happen but I thought we were supposed
to try to clean them up and tell someone from the hotel staff about it. I
know that these were near escalators but I feel like that's no excuse. If
you're at the bottom of the escalator when it happens, step aside and let
people through but don't just walk away.
That being said, I'm sure there were plenty of handlers who did stand by the
messes and did their best to clean them up.
I was really surprised by the amount of people who were on phones, eating,
talking or goofing off while working their dogs too. again, not trying to
imply that these things don't happen but it was frustrating when someone
else was too busy doing something else while his or her dog distracted on
other people or dogs.
I did, however, meet a whole bunch of people who genuinely inspired me with
the bonds they have with their dogs and the way they worked as a team. Valla
and I just met in October of 2012 so we're still feeling each other out. It
was just amazing to see teams that flow together so beautifully.
anyway, that's just my take on the week. Hope everyone's having a good

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