Jobs and People with Disabilities

Not long after I wrote my Independence Birthday piece earlier this week, I heard a locally generated piece on NPR about veterans returning from the war in Iraq and the problems they face finding jobs.  While the NPR report talked about the high level of unemployment and under-employment among Iraq vets, they also mentioned that the situation is downright grim for those who returned home with a disability.

If I remember correctly, the statistic they quoted said that less than 10% of all disabled Iraq War veterans have found gainful employment.  With a presidential administration that has demonstrated hostility toward people with disabilities and has cut funding for the Veterans Administration, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

To recap the highlights of President Bush’s assault on people with disabilities, we can remember that, in cases in which they chose to take a position, the Justice Department under Ashcroft (a KKK guy) and Gonzalez (a bush Lackey) have never taken the side of a person with a disability in an ADA case and have, in quite a number of cases, taken the position of the corporation on the other side of the case.  Continuing, moving the most successful disability program ever out of the Department of Education and into Labor, where no one is trained to run the group, set back a lot of programs substantially.  Finally, cuts to the VA and benefits for veterans, who represent a large portion of the disabled population, sets all people with disabilities back even further.

So, when you vote in this year’s Congressional election, vote for people who will do more than make false promises.  The appointment of Judge O, a man with a horrific record in ADA cases, to the Supreme Court was the Republicans’ way to remind us we are second class citizens.  No one who supported this nomination should receive a single vote from a person with a disability as, if his track record is any indication, we are in for a series of setbacks.

I did read some good news (entire article pasted in below) about Hire Disability Solutions and working together to create a web site for careers and people with disabilities.  I haven’t done any research on the matter but here’s the article for your reading pleasure:

Monster and Hire Disability Solutions Introduce
Co-branded Careers Site for Job Seekers with Disabilities

     Monster and Hire Disability Solutions Introduce Co-branded Careers
Site for Job Seekers with Disabilities
     Monster Job Tools and Content Now More Easily Accessible to Visitors

MAYNARD, Mass. and NEW YORK, NY – June 12, 2006 – MonsterR, the leading
global online careers and recruitment resource and flagship brand of
Monster Worldwide, Inc. (NASDAQ: MNST), and Hire Disability Solutions,
LLC, a national leader in bringing together top companies and job
with disabilities, today unveiled a co-branded career resource section
on’s site. This joint initiative makes Monster job search tools,
career content and resume posting capabilities more readily available to
individuals with disabilities.

       “Our relationship with Monster will allow us to provide the 49
million Americans living with a disability with access to an
abundance of
excellent employment opportunities,” said Jeffrey Klare, Founder and
Executive Officer, Hire Disability Solutions, LLC. Klare continued,
“There is expected to be an estimated worker shortage of 35 million
by 2030, according to the National Business & Disability Council,
and individuals with disabilities can help mitigate this shortfall.
Together, our companies can play an important role in connecting
employers and job seekers with disabilities, a group that has been
overlooked in the past.”

   Powered by Monster, HireDS Career Network helps facilitate Hire
Disability Solution’s mission: “to give all that want a chance to
succeed, the opportunity to succeed.” Hire Disability Solutions’ newly
constructed site,, is designed to benefit the widest
possible number of job seekers with disabilities.

   “Monster’s relationship with Hire Disability Solutions will increase
the profile of our core products and services to a vast pool of job
seekers with disabilities,” said Steve Pemberton, Chief Diversity
for Monster. “In turn, we are helping employers find quality candidates
foster diverse and inclusive workforces, which can impact a company’s
bottom-line by improving employee morale and retention.”

   Hire Disability Solutions, LCC Hire Disability Solutions was founded
response to the increasing demand for services for individuals with
disabilities that promote inclusion into the mainstream employment
Since its inception in 2004, Hire Disability Solutions has established
itself as a national leader in protecting and enhancing employment
opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Through its educational
campaigns surrounding employment law, education opportunities and
assistive technology, the company facilitates the success of individuals
with disabilities and employers alike.

   About Monster Worldwide
Founded in 1967, Monster Worldwide, Inc. is the parent company of
Monster(R), the leading global online careers and recruitment resource.
company also owns TMP Worldwide, one of the largest Recruitment
Advertising agencies in North America. Headquartered in New York with
approximately 4,300 employees in 25 countries, Monster Worldwide
MNST) is a member of the S&P 500 Index and NASDAQ 100. More
information about Monster Worldwide is available at
   About Monster
MonsterR is the leading global online careers and recruitment resource.
division of Monster Worldwide, Monster works for everyone by
connecting quality job seekers at all levels with leading employers
all industries. Founded in 1994 and headquartered in Maynard, Mass.,
Monster has 26 local language and content sites in 24 countries
More information is available at or by calling
1-800-MONSTER. To learn more about Monster’s industry-leading employer
products and services, please visit

Special Note: Safe Harbor Statement Under the Private Securities
Litigation Reform Act of 1995: Except for historical information
herein, the statements made in this release constitute forward-looking
statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of
1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Such
forward-looking statements involve certain risks and uncertainties,
including statements regarding Monster Worldwide, Inc.’s strategic
direction, prospects and future results. Certain factors, including
outside of Monster Worldwide’s control, may cause actual results to
materially from those contained in the forward- looking statements,
including economic and other conditions in the markets in which Monster
Worldwide operates, risks associated with acquisitions, competition,
seasonality and the other risks discussed in Monster Worldwide’s Form
and other filings made with the Securities and Exchange Commission,
which discussions are incorporated in this release by reference.

Alison Lipman 718-663-6720

Andy Rohr
Weber Shandwick (For Monster)

Ginger Bennett Kutsch
Associate Manager of Development
The Seeing Eye, Inc.
Phone 973-539-4425
Fax 973-539-0922


I don’t know what all of that securities law stuff above means.  I left it in to try to avoid any problems that removing it might cause.

Subscribe to the Blind Confidential RSS Feed at: Blindconfidential

Independence Birthday

Today our nation celebrates its 230th birthday.  Today I celebrate my 46th birthday.  A lot has transpired during my 46 years to advance the civil rights of all Americans, including those of us with disabilities.  Unfortunately, jobless rates, under-education and near poverty remains the norm among many minority groups and is vastly out of proportion among people with disabilities.  Those of us with disabilities also do not have the full constitutional protections afforded everyone else in this country, citizen or otherwise.

So, celebrating the Fourth of July, the day on which our nation declared its independence from England and pronounced that all men, which I would presume includes me, have certain “inalienable rights, endowed by our creator” feels a bit strange to a member of a group whose rights have been limited by statute and by decisions of our highest court.  Certainly, our nation’s history of endowing greater rights to some groups than others started the day the Declaration of Independence allowed slave owners to join as signatories.  Two hundred and thirty years later, though, I believe that people with disabilities remain the only group who officially has fewer rights than our countrymen.  Thus, a Fourth of July celebrated by we blinks, endowed with constrained and alienable rights to “reasonable” accommodations, is akin to American Indians celebrating Columbus Day.

Aside from the fact that I have fewer rights than my non-disabled neighbors, I consider myself to be a very patriotic American.  I strongly believe in our constitution and the ideals for which it stands.  I believe that the US is a better place to live, even for people with disabilities, than most other countries.  I deeply enjoy my freedom to write articles like this one without fear that Fidel, President Hu or the Taliban will come and disappear me.  I do, however, wish that the US would join Canada, the EU and Australia and New Zealand in adding rights for people with disabilities to its list of fundamental human rights as “reasonable” accommodations eludes the equality endowed by our creator, by Thomas Jefferson and the blood of our forefathers spilled to make those rights inalienable.

How can people with disabilities fight for equal rights rather than just a reasonable facsimile?  Ask a dozen blinks and you will probably get a dozen different answers.  I have friends with vision impairments on the far right who consider themselves just like the white males in our society and, although they have had doors slammed in the faces of their careers, they will stand by the old red, white and blue and swear that all of the Bush administration’s actions to destroy ADA and funding for disability programs are warranted as we need to spend the money fighting an invisible enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Someday, these people might realize that the nation that permits discrimination against we blinks may not actually be the best place for people with disabilities to reside.  So, please remember, no matter the color of your skin, we be minorities too and civil rights for us means civil rights for everyone.

My friends in the Blind Panther Party, used fictionally by Gonz Blinko but, as far as I know, an actual organization that sends me emails from time to time, really seem that they will use destructive methods to gain their objectives.  I am a pacifist and do not believe in using tactics that will result in the loss of life.  I am indifferent to property crime and can even see myself endorsing a bit of intellectual anarchy if the BPP and its followers want to go out and deface inaccessible web sites or spray paint slogans on the sides of Target and other stores who discriminate against people with disabilities.

I absolutely endorse any tactics that use non-violent disruption of services against those who work against our rights.  Recently, I thought the idea of a reverse bus boycott to be held in cities with inadequate public transportation should be tried.  Rather than refusing to ride the busses, people with disabilities should pick a few days and a particular city; get on the busses early in the morning and refuse to get off for the entire day.  Come back the following day and do the same thing.  Local transit authorities would either have to shut down or negotiate.  Whoever handles the negotiations, whether a coalition of consumer organizations like the real NFB, ACB, ABC, etc. should work to ensure the results of said negotiations are binding so as not to walk away with yet another handful of empty promises.

If there is a particular restaurant or other place of public accommodation that seems especially unfriendly or even hostile to the rights of we blinks and our guide dogs, perhaps, a “lunch counter” sit in, like those done by SNCC in the sixties, might be in order.  Fill a restaurant, day after day, with blinks and dogs and canes and wheelchairs and crutches and anything else that would make the proprietors a little uncomfortable will make headlines and demonstrate that we are not willing to be refused service, be served poorly or rudely just because a restaurant manager is an asshole who doesn’t know the law of the land.  

These and other tactics used by Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Gandhi and others should be attempted by blinks that would be proud to wear a pair of flex cuffs for the cause.

Obviously, working from the inside should continue.  All of the consumer organizations should continue lobbying and taking violators to court.  Individuals should try to form a class and file a big bucks suit against big bucks violators.  A lot of us became disabled fighting in various wars on behalf of this country and, on Independence Day, I especially honor these men and women and I hope their sacrifices for our freedoms will apply as much to them as they do to the mainstream world.


Subscribe to the Blind Confidential RSS Feed at: Blindconfidential

Guide Dog Chronicles: Arrival

My schedule had the period between July 10 and August 6 reserved to go to Southeastern Guide Dog School just across the Skyway Bridge in Manatee County.  Instead, early in June, I received a phone call from Rita, the Southeastern person in charge of student affairs, in which she asked if I could arrive the following day.  A couple of hours later I returned her call and said I would arrive the following afternoon.  Thus, I fell into a near total anxiety attack, took a couple of colonapine and worried myself to sleep.

The next day, Wednesday June 7, sedated by various prescription psychiatric medications, I hopped into the Toyota and my lovely wife Susan drove me to the guide dog school.  There, a young woman approached me, handed me a leather strap and a harness and said, “Let’s pretend I am your dog.”

While I thought she a bit aggressive, I couldn’t turn down this kind of kink so I grabbed hold and played along.  After we walked around some concrete paths, she asked me to yank hard on the leash.  I complied.  Then, she gave me the leather strap and told me that I had become the proud owner of a new guide dog leash.  I wondered what sort of weird fetish this person dug but agreed to follow along.

A whirlwind of very nice and highly competent staff people helped Susan and I bring my things to my room and, after an hour or so, I settled in and Sue returned home to St. Petersburg.  Having nothing to do, I sat in my room and started to worry.  Another sedative helped my neurotic self calm down a bit.

A loud knock at my door followed by the statement, “Hey Chris, its Rick,”” jarred me out of my semi-nap.  I yelled “come in” and Rick, the Southeastern Director of Training, accompanied by a yellow lab entered my room.  He introduced the dog as “Xcellerator” (pronounced ex cellerator) and told me that he (the dog) and I would become a team.  He suggested I try to bond with the animal and left us in the room together.

At home, we have a 20 pound Corgi/Yorki mix.  Xcellerator weighs just over 75 pounds and seemed to feel as much anxiety as I did.  “Great,” I thought, “I’m locked in a small room with a neurotic dog and can’t find a way to calm myself.”

I played a bit with the dog until Rick returned and brought me to an office where he would show me how to put a harness on the animal.  We practiced this a bit and I returned to my room and put the harness away.

I got to meet the other students at the 3:00 pm feeding time.  They had only had their dogs for a day longer than me but it seemed an enormous advantage at the time.  They also generally seemed to know each others’ names and the names of the staff.  I did my best to introduce myself while trying to heed the requests of the trainers to keep my dog under control.  This didn’t turn out to be a simple task but got better over time.

My next encounter with the other students came at the 5:00 pm human feeding time.  Someone told me to tell my dog to “go down and under.”  Having no idea what this meant, I asked the woman to my right who would be my table mate for the rest of the month.  She, a three time guide dog user, told me what to do.  The explanation came simply; the action did not.  Finally a trainer told me how to keep the X-Dog under control and I was able to free up my right hand to eat as much of the dinner as I could.

The entire meal, as would be the case for all meals while I was there, had a high volume narration from a loud mouth redneck who felt it incumbent upon himself to speak constantly at the highest volume his voice could support.  The loud mouth redneck (LMR) would provide a continuous level of annoyance for the rest of the students for most of the month.  The mere presence of the LMR, however, caused the rest of our highly diverse group to bond more tightly than we might otherwise have as we shared a common irritation.

After dinner, we brought the dogs out to do their business (the X-Dog negotiated a very complex intellectual property contract with a goldador named Shatzi) and we students returned to the day room to watch television.

The combination of assigned seats during meals, following a strict schedule of training and lectures and sitting around a day room with the others made the place feel a bit like a cross between a detox/psychiatric facility and Riker’s Island.  

As most of our regular readers know, I am a highly neurotic sort.  I, therefore, felt extreme anxiety, fear, doubt and insecurity upon arriving which took some time to fade.  I have trouble trusting people so finding myself thrust into a group of unfamiliar blinks supervised by a team of unfamiliar sighties scared the poop out of me.  I do not have the vocabulary to express my gratitude strongly enough to the Southeastern staff and most of the other students for helping me climb down off of the ceiling, relax a bit and calm myself enough to learn to work with a guide dog and make a lot of new friends.  I know, this paragraph is borderline melodrama but I truly feel a tremendous level of thanks to the people at SGD and my fellow classmates.

My generally neurotic self led me, at the beginning, to behave in my totally pompous, self important manner for quite some time before I felt I could grow comfortable with the others, even a little.  Thus, I found that I had talked my way into becoming the assistive technology technical support guy, a role which, at first, helped boost my ego but, soon, caused a high level of discomfort as the LMR would pound on my door asking questions about which JAWS keystrokes do what.  I finally got to the point where I would only respond by saying, “Read the f**king help file!”

Of course, the role I fell into came as the result of my own know-it-all behavior.  Mike Calvo came for a visit the following week and I did my best to hand off the LMR to him as I felt the redneck would do better using FB than JAWS and, although Mike is a good friend, I would have to sacrifice a couple of hours of his sanity to protect my own.  Mike did a great job convincing the blinks new to computing that FB would work far better for them than JAWS and I think he probably made about a half dozen sales out of a population of 11 students.

My introduction to the guide dog school caused me to rethink quite a number of things.  I had never, in my entire life, lived in such a structured environment (even detox and county jail had fewer restrictions).  I learned that not all blinks care about JAWS or other AT products and some would prefer to avoid computers altogether.  I learned, once again, that I can, when afraid, turn into a pompous asshole.  Finally, I learned just how hard the people at such schools work and wondered why I get paid such big bucks to sit around in a comfortable, air conditioned environment, thinking up cool ideas and writing them down  while these truly heroic individuals toil in the Florida heat, put up with highly diverse groups of whining blinks, deal with the health care of dogs and humans alike, clean up poop, vomit and doggie phlegm, work 25 hour shifts and manage to do so smiling and with an enthusiasm I don’t think I’ve ever felt in the corporate world.  My work, as it tends toward the theoretical, may never see the light of day; the trainers and staff of SGD send people home with a guide dog and, if the blink works the animal properly, they will have a tool that they can employ to greatly improve their independence as well as a loving friend.  Maybe we should declare a guide dog school employee appreciation day or some other way to acknowledge all of these hard working people who toil away in relative anonymity.

— End

Subscribe to the Blind Confidential RSS Feed at: Blindconfidential

Mission Accomplished!

By Gonz Blinko

Shortly after we got the note from BC, one of the local bikers overheard a conversation in a blues bar that suggested that our mission had been found out.  We had to go into deep cover which, of course, meant I couldn’t write anything for Blind Confidential and we had to move out of the luxury hotels and into tents along the Manatee river, tool sheds and other rat and mosquito infested hell holes.

Sam and I sat with El Negro, a friendly retired Navy Seal and our friend Snake from the Hell’s Angels.  Sam had thought to bring tactile maps so I could follow along as we planned further spy missions.

Snake, who had gathered a ton of intelligence from bikers friendly to our cause and I, who had done about a billion google searches on the names and addresses we thought were likely prisons for blinks, had narrowed the list down to two.

“I don’t think that the guide dog school would be holding a prominent blink as a prisoner.  The publicity would kill them and their contributors would flee like rats from a sinking ship,” I stated when Snake suggested that BC might be held at Southeastern.

“But the other place has a huge sign that reads, ‘NFB’ with a subtitle on its gate that says, “Work will set us Free.’”

“Sam and I have spent a lot of time in Florida and we’ve never heard of an NFB facility in Manatee County.  What’s its address?”

Snake read me the address and I launched the Manatee County Department of the Registrar database which I had hacked my way into a few days earlier.  The property was indeed owned by an organization called NFB but not the National Federation of the Blind.  This NFB, listed as a non-profit corporation, actually was named “Not For Blinks.”  A little further research on the State of Florida State Department web site showed us that Not For Blinks was a real 501©3 non-profit with the right to raise funds both nationally and in Florida.  Furthermore, the organization had a president named, Sydney T. Greenbacks.

“Bingo!”  I shouted as I read the information to the others.  Sam, El Negro and the Seal, who didn’t want us to even use a nickname to describe him (he seemed pretty paranoid) had been planning assaults on both locations and, now, we focused all of our attention on the NFB reprogramming camp.


The camp had four guard towers, on each at the north, south east and west corners of the compound.  We could approach the north corner via the Manatee River, the east and south seemed to be covered by fairly dense forest and the west faced the Gulf.  The Seal asked for one of the helicopters and said he’d take control of the landing from the Gulf side, El Negro and a handful of Angels joined him and started working on a combined Arial and sea assault.

“I’ll work with the north team as we can approach via kayak on the river and, when the guardsmen think we are a happy bunch of tourists out for a picnic, we’ll fire away.”

“I’ll take the front gate,” said Snake, “A bunch of us Angels can blow the doors off and roll right in.”  The front gate was the only area that had access to a road so we felt the bikers should handle this one.

Sam and BC’s wife flipped a coin over the remaining corners and each took control of a helicopter.


We spent the rest of the night readying our weapons and working with our teams.  I had a handful of BPP guys with me and we used kayaks lent to us by PPO.  The stress thickened as dawn approached and we jammed ourselves up with espresso.

The kayak team left camp first.  The boats felt a bit tippy loaded down with all of the military hardware but the Manatee River at low tide is shallow enough for us to walk in if we had to.  Kropotkin had never paddled before so we put him on a tandem with a sightie and loaded them down with assault rifles.  We all had mosquito suits on and had covered ourselves from head to toe with Deet.  We had a few fishing Rods, supplied by friends of BC at Discount Tackle in Bradenton to serve as camouflage.  We paddled quietly but shouted to each other like a bunch of beer swilling fishermen.

When we reached our landing point, about 100 yards off of the north corner of the compound; we put lures on our lines and tossed them into the river hoping that a bass or gar would ignore them so as to avoid any distractions.  We waited for our signal from El Negro and the Seal.


At exactly 5:45 in the morning, before the sun had risen more than a crack, we heard the explosions out of the west.  Soon, a fire ball bright enough for me to see lit up the Gulf side of the facility.  The kayak team grabbed our weapons and slowly made our way in through the forest, using the GPS and talking compass on our MSP enabled iPAQ devices.  

Kropotkin took his group to one side of the corner and I moved to the other.  “Listen for explosions to the south or wait ten minutes in case BC’s wife gets caught before firing,” I commanded.

“plug in the GPS coordinates into the RPG,” whispered Kropotkin to those holding the rocket propelled grenades.  “Those of you with rifles, fire at the sound of the nearest explosions and flames if you can see them.”

“Once the tower falls, retreat to the river and head west to the Gulf,” I added, reinforcing the plan we had repeated all night.


My radio bleeped, “Gonz,” I whispered.

“It’s Sam,” said the familiar accented voice.  “The western tower dropped, the chopper is approaching to the south, the Angels are ready to charge in right after you guys start firing and we’ll be right after you.”

“Sam?”  I asked.

“Yeah,” she replied.

“Good luck, I love you,” I said in a peculiarly sentimental moment.  “Hell,” I thought, “If we might get our asses killed for an annoying paranoid boss, we might as well say our good bye with honesty.”

“Shut up,” whispered Sam, also in an especially sentimental voice.

We heard the south tower explode.



I lifted my RPG and squeezed the trigger; Kropotkin must have launched his a half second before me as I could hear it screaming toward the tower as mine shot off of its handle.  A couple more went toward the north tower and the explosions were spectacular.  I don’t have much experience with serious military type assault tactics and found myself standing still, petrified with fear.  A BPP guy whacked me on the back of the head and yelled, “Get your ass down, DOWN, DOWN!!!”

I hit the ground as if by instinct and heard bullets whizzing over my head.

I pulled out my AKM and started firing in the direction of the tower.  My BPP buddy did the same and yelled assurances to keep the others calm.  I would later learn that he lost most of his vision in Viet Nam and this situation wasn’t at all new to him.


From our vantage point on the north corner of the compound, we could hear more explosions, see a few more fireballs, and hear the yells of humans and barks of dogs as we retreated to our kayaks.  I had unloaded 4 32 round clips and had five more.  We left everything but the assault rifles behind when we reached the kayaks.

As we paddled toward the Gulf, we continued to hear lots of gunfire, explosion and shouting.  An occasional voice from a team member would shout something on the scrambled digital radio but none of it pertained to our team on the river.  We followed the plan, paddled as swiftly as we could and tried to reach the river mouth, El Negro and the Seal.

The NFB guys obviously knew that they had been hit from the north but stopped firing in our direction.  I guessed this meant that their perimeter had fallen and that the Angels were inside.  We paddled as quickly as possible and did our best to follow the plan instead of thinking of what the others might be doing.


My radio blipped again and I heard Sam’s voice, “We got him!”

We hadn’t even reached our meeting point for the next stage of the operation but Sam was already loading BC and “11 other blinks and some dogs with whom they’ve grown fond onto the Segorski.”

The “Not For Blinks” team folded quickly but the heat seeking missiles aimed at Sy T. Greenback’s helicopter missed as he took off toward St. Petersburg and, presumably, his friends at Freeman Scientology.  Five of the NFB guys would be found charred and cold by the time the Manatee County Fire department reached the scene.  About a dozen others would need hospitalization.

“An unexplained series of explosions and fires knocked Manatee County residents out of bed last night when a secret, illegal prison reprogramming camp was attacked by unknown forces dedicated to the liberation of blind people held captive there,” said the local news reporter.  Chet is on the scene with this report:”

“As you can see behind me, Manatee County fire fighters have stopped the flames and the police and arson teams are seeking any survivors.  It seems that all of the blind captives and many dogs were freed in this suspicious attack.  I have Officer Joe Bolton with me for a comment,” said Chet, “Officer Joe, what do you think happened here?”

“Early this morning, we received a fax from a group located somewhere near Austin, Texas that claimed responsibility for the attack.  They call themselves the Blind Panther Party and said that they would ‘use any tactics necessary’ to further the civil rights of blind people around the world.

“The message claimed that this compound was being run by the owner of an assistive technology company who, ‘would take any steps, legal or otherwise, to prevent blind people, in the US and abroad, from making disparaging remarks about his company, its business strategies or overpriced products.  The fax also said that Mr. Greenbacks would take any anti-competitive actions possible to prohibit blind people from finding ways to build and distribute lower cost assistive technology products.”

Chet asked, “Did Mr. Greenbacks, owner of one of the competing television stations in this market and a large amount of real estate have any comment for the police?”

“As this is an ongoing investigation, I cannot comment on that.”

“Have you any leads on finding the members of this Panther Party?”

“I still can’t comment.”

“Back to you Ed, from the smoldering remains of the Not For Blinks’ headquarters in Palmetto, Florida.”

“Our next story involves a 12 year old boy who has crossed Tampa Bay riding on the back of a friendly Manatee…”

We shut off the television and toasted our team.  BC got up on the bar in the blues and biker club and thanked everyone involved.  With tears in his eyes, BC embraced his wife and his new canine friend Axel, named for the Guns and Roses singer.  He thanked the Angels for their help, the BPP and told me to get down to writing this story hoping there might be a movie deal in the making.

Sam gave me a soft kiss on the cheek and slid quietly out the back door.  When the party dwindled, I hopped on the back of Snake’s Harley, waved good bye to the remaining partiers and sang “Born to be Wild” until we got to the airport.



For those of you who didn’t guess already, I was actually at Southeastern Guide Dog School in Palmetto, Florida.  I am back home and Blind Confidential will resume regular programming.  

While at Southeastern, I received my first ever guide dog.  His name is Xcellerator (pronounced ex cellerator) and he is a 76 pound yellow Labrador.  The X-Dog and I get along amazingly well and, to my great delight, he and our twenty pound, corgi/yorki pet dog act like they’ve been friends forever.

I promise I will not turn Blind Confidential into a sappy journal about my guide dog and me nor will I write endlessly about the amusing behaviors he demonstrates.  I love the animal but hate reading sappy essays about the bond between man and beast.

I will, however, start writing a series that I will call “the guide dog school chronicles” from notes I took while captive.  I will write little about the dogs but, instead, the focus will be on the 10 strange blinks I shared living quarters with for most of the past month.  I will also write about the outstanding staff at Southeastern as they worked like hell to teach us the skills necessary to work a guide dog and somehow accomplished the task without suicides, homicides or severe maiming.

My experience in Palmetto was terrific and, if you are interested in getting a dog, I recommend you look into Southeastern while you are shopping for a school that meets your needs.  I recommend, however, trying to get a winter class as Florida can be unbearably hot this time of year.

I’m happy to be back and am looking forward to starting the second six months of Blind Confidential posts.

Subscribe to the Blind Confidential RSS Feed at: Blindconfidential