Golden Retriever Mix Durwood enhances class experience

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Durwood enhances class experience
By Christin Runkle, Idaho Press Tribune

CALDWELL — In many ways, Durwood isn’t much different from the seventh-grade students he goes to class with at Thomas Jefferson Charter School. He sometimes has a hard time sitting still, he falls asleep in class and he gets distracted when visitors come into the classroom.

But Durwood isn’t a seventh-grader. The 16-month-old golden retriever/yellow Labrador mix, who’s in training to become a guide dog for a blind person, has attended Thomas Jefferson with Lisa Malhas, 13, several days a week since the winter of 2006.

Durwood left Tuesday for formal training at Guide Dogs for the Blind in Boring, Ore., but Lisa’s class threw him a going-away party on Monday. Far from being a distraction, seventh grade teacher Amy Pfaff said having Durwood in class has “kind of brought them together as a little family.”

“Our kids are really protective of him,” Pfaff said. “There’s never a moment when Durwood doesn’t have someone mothering over him.”

Having an animal in the classroom seemed to help students as individuals, as well. “He’s made school more enjoyable,” said Malhas’ classmate Adam Johnson, 13. “He’s kind of made me more responsible so I can do stuff like . . . train a dog and be good with my animals.”

Malhas has had to make sure her classmates know how to properly interact with Durwood — Guide Dogs for the Blind doesn’t allow guide dogs in training to eat from people’s hands, for instance. But controlling his behavior in class hasn’t been a problem for Malhas. Durwood has been trained to lie down when his family takes him places.

“He’s probably the calmest dog,” Malhas said. “He sits under my desk and sleeps.” Training Durwood has taught Malhas patience and respect. “It’s been a really good experience,” she said. “I’m really glad how he turned out through everything.”

There’s more . . .

Golden Retriever Guide Dog folks – Ed & Toni Eames

Ed and Toni Eames have been highlighted at our site for many years now. If you have not done so, be sure to check out our information on Guide Dogs and their fabulous articles.

Toni just passed on this wonderful article. I often wondered how money was handled by the visually impaired. Well, now you will know.

Time to break the mold of paper money for the blind
By Eddie Jimenez / The Fresno Bee

Ed and Toni Eames, both blind, each have their own systems to distinguish denominations of paper money once they’ve separated the bills.Ed keeps dollar bills flat, folds $5 bills in half width-wise and $10 bills length-wise. Toni also leaves her dollar bills flat, but folds $5 bills in half twice width-wise and $10 bills in half, but keeps them in a different part of her purse.

They try not to carry around anything larger than $10. That makes it easier to keep track of their money. “If somebody does cheat you, intentionally or unintentionally, you don’t lose a lot of money,” Toni said.

The Fresno couple and other blind and visually impaired people will no longer have to go through this exercise if Pete Stark, a Democratic congressman from Fremont, has his way.

Read on to see what Pete Stark has in mind . . .