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We Dixie Land Guide Dog Users are the South Carolina affiliate of Guide Dog Users, Inc. Scroll down to learn more about us and find out how you, too, can join the team!

Contact the Dixie Land Guide Team!

Contact the Dixie Land Guide Team!
Dixie Land GDU, Inc., 1608 Acacia St., Charleston, SC 29407 (843) 571-0737

We provide education for the sighted community and peer mentoring with advocacy for the blindness community (guide dog, cane and sighted guide users alike), while promoting one community at large.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"Paws" to Educate at Top Dog, Orlando!

Pastor Tim blessing guide team



Fellow Dixie Lander, Pastor Tim Barrett, offers a special, individual blessing to one of the guide teams attending Top Dog, 2011 in Orlando, FL.

We'd been planning this weekend for months.  Indeed, we'd been diligently participating in all Dixie Land fund  raisers in an all-out effort to attend Top Dog, Orlando-2011!  Kathleen Trutschel, President of GDUF, asked us to arrive early so we could share our new "Paws to Educate" initiative with the others attending.  Two of Dixie Land's officers, Laurel Jean (Secretary/Treasurer) and Audrey (Vice-president), along with Tim Barrett (a new Dixie Land member), were scheduled to officiate in the "Blessing".

As the time drew closer, our beloved President, Nancy Moore, received the bad news that she could not attend because of medical reasons.  Saddened by her absence, but encouraged by her spirit, we continued with our plans to forge ahead without her.

Finally, "D" (departure) day arrived!  The van was packed to capacity with dogs, a piano, sound equipment, written materials, luggage and, oh, yeah, people!   We actually even had enough room to include 2 local blind teenagers, Brianna Murray and Taylor Jones, both of whom assisted us with the Blessing.  This was really looking towards being a very successful trip.

Brianna reading Scripture for Blessing of the Guides



Here, Brianna reads Scripture for the Blessing.

We arrived at the Four-Corners Sheraton around 6pm that evening.  Immediately, as we walked into the check-in area, we encountered other handlers and their guides, patiently waiting their turns to get their room assignments.  We could tell the desk clerks were somewhat overwhelmed, but they still provided us with excellent service as they learned to "hold their hands in their pockets" and give us directions to various areas.

After checking into our rooms and making our way around dozens and dozens of working, retired and future guide dogs, we found our way to the Top Dog, Orlando-2011 registration desk, where Kathleen and Sally greeted everyone with warmth, love and a smile.  Proudly, Kathleen presented us with the very special "doggie" bags she'd worked so hard to fill.

Shortly thereafter, Kathleen and I met with several others from New York, Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida to discuss our "Paws to Educate" initiative and how important it was for all handlers to know their legal rights, responsibilities and recourses when those rights have been violated.  We also noted that it was equally important for business owners to understand that they, too, have rights to protect their establishments and patrons within when we fail to exercise our responsibility to maintain complete control over our guides' behavior, appearance and demeanor. We had a very successful meeting and we all walked away much better prepared and informed.    Friday, it seemed everywhere we went, someone would corner us and ask about how they could spread the word in their hometowns.

Pastor Tim playing Uno with Taylor



There was plenty of time for fun and fellowship. Here, Pastor Tim and Taylor are playing Uno in the Hospitality room!

Jerry Stebbins and Laurel Jean posing



Taylor's great-grandfather (Jerry Stebbins) who drove us, and our secretary Laurel Jean (with her long, white cane, Slim) pose for a photo as they watch to see who will win that Uno game!

Laurel playing for banquet



Saturday night's banquet was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend! Our Laurel Jean provided dinner music as we were being served.

Puppy raisers and handlers from Guide Dog Foundation



Here, devoted puppy raisers and grateful handlers all from Guide Dog Foundation enjoy the evening together.

Thank you, Association for the Blind, for helping Dixie Land to be able to participate in such an enlightening and fun event!

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Charleston, SC, United States
Dixie Land Guide Dog Users is the South Carolina Affiliate of Guide Dog Users, Inc., the largest guide dog-related organization In the United States.