*** February 2011 ***
* E-zine *

This Month's Highlights:
· Not Just a Dog
· Discount Hotel Sites
· Sounds of Long Ago

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A1. NOT JUST A DOG by JK, Wyndmoor, PA.

When you hear the term "service animal," what comes to mind? Many people probably picture a blind person walking with a "seeing eye" or "guide dog." A service animal, usually a dog, often handles many more tasks than guide dogs, which are also considered to be service animals. What about therapy, companion or social/therapy animals? They typically don't handle tasks, but provide comfort and fulfill emotional needs. Here are the "official" definitions of dogs that serve various functions:

Service animals are legally defined (Americans With Disabilities Act, 1990) and are trained to meet the disability-related needs of their handlers who have disabilities. Federal laws protect the rights of individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals in public places. Service animals are not considered "pets." NOTE: In certain cases monkeys, cats, and even miniature horses may qualify as service animals.

Definition of a service animal: (Guide Dogs, Leader Dogs and Signal Dogs) A service animal is defined as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal, including cats and monkeys, individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for themselves. "Seeing eye dogs" are one type of service animal, used by some individuals who are blind. This is the type of service animal with which most people are familiar. But there are service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their day-to-day activities. Some examples include:

  • Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds;
  • Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments;
  • Assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance.

Animals that alert or respond to a disability-related need or emergency, such as seizure, extreme social anxiety, or panic attack can be qualified as a service animal provided that you have documentation from a medical professional.

Therapy animals are not legally defined by federal law, but some states have laws defining therapy animals. Federal laws have no provisions for people to be accompanied by therapy animals in places of public accommodation that have "no pets" policies. Therapy animals usually are not service animals. Therapy dogs that provide comfort and companionship to patients in hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions DO NOT qualify as Service Animals. One nursing home professional describes the strong impact of therapy dogs: "When we bring in a therapy dog, we notice a big change in the affect of our residents. People come alive." They provide people with contact to animals, but are not limited to working with people who have disabilities. They are usually the personal pets of their handlers, and work with their handlers to provide services to others.

A companion animal is not legally defined, but is accepted as another term for pet.

Comfort and medical support animals: These are pets that provide emotional support for the owner. They normally qualify if you can provide certification from a treating medical professional that the owner is being treated for a mental health disability and that it is necessary that you be accompanied by the animal. Comfort animals receive the same accommodation as do service dogs on flights of U.S.-flagged carriers and on many foreign carriers as well.

Service animals, companion dogs that provide comfort to the sick and elderly DO NOT qualify.

There are many success stories; here are just a few:

Abby Goes to Work
"A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Among the problems created by the disease are a tendency to fall, and the inability of the patient to carry out certain maneuvers. It was during the early stages that a friend gave me a book entitled "Angel by My Side." It is the true story of a man with a heart condition whose life is turned around by the services of a "service" dog. As a longtime dog lover, I decided to try and train one of my border collies for the task. Abby, a 6-year-old female, is my Frisbee competition dog. She knows basic obedience and is open to learning new things. I decided Abby would become a "working" rather than "playing" dog. My wife and I read articles on the Internet about how to train a service dog. Abby was perplexed by our new commands. We were not getting anywhere. I contacted a service dog training company. The trainer, Melanie, had the insight to teach Abby commands that benefited my particular problem. To me, that action was critical. Another trainer could have taught Abby to "go get the phone," but she would not have understood my specific needs. We plan to continue Abby's (and our) training in the near future. In one month Abby learned to pick up dropped objects (keys, etc.), open and close doors, bring me the phone, and alert my wife that I had fallen. In addition, she taught us to "think like a dog," rather than try and change Abby to a human's way of thinking.

JJ Will Get That!
"I am a forty-two year old quadriplegic from Austin, Texas. I was injured in a diving accident in 1981 at the age of fourteen. I have lived the last twenty-eight years confined to a wheelchair. JJ was specially trained to assist me with my specific physical deficits. The trainers knew my physical limitations and trained JJ, a rescue dog, to compensate for my lack of movement. JJ retrieves anything that drops from the table or from my lap. In fact, he watches for opportunities to help retrieve dropped items. I once dropped my wallet in front of the counter at the bank. As my wallet hit the ground, two different people in line behind me said in unison, "I'll get that!" But I knew that JJ would get it.

Hope offers hope to a woman with severe, debilitating arthritis in all her joints "Getting up and down and facing my day is a challenge and sometimes very depressing. At times I feel more than twice my age," says Carol Kaye. About three years ago, she rescued a "beautiful, big Golden Retriever named Hope."

"I knew immediately she was a working girl in the raw, so I set out training her. That was the beginning of Hope's rescue and training. I had trained a few hearing-assist canines in the early seventies and had also been working with a blind woman who had a great service dog, and together we started basic training classes at the YMCA for fun.

"If she could train her own service animal, I thought, then so could I. I went on line and started researching everything that I could find on service dogs: all federal and state requirements, training schools, everything! Meanwhile, my dog Hope filled my days with love and joy; she could make the pain melt into the background with her loving eyes and bounce. With the help I needed getting up and down and walking steps, I thought a service dog would be so much nicer than a walker or a lift chair.

"I am in my early fifties and do not wish to look quite as old as I feel. Hope was the answer! She learned so quickly and was always ready for whatever the day brought. She learned to brace and pull me up as though she knew that her sole reason to be here was just for me. My dog Hope was and is emotionally uplifting. I knew then that the bond between a service dog and their handler could not be beat or duplicated by anything on earth."

Resources and Information

The Delta Society offers the most comprehensive information on this topic:
For a quick overview, here is a link to the society's FAQ:
If you have further questions about service animals or other requirements of the ADA, you may call the U.S. Department of Justice's toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TDD).
To order a 28-page instruction booklet on traveling with a service animal,CLICK HERE.
The FAA rules and comments can be found here:
Traveling with a service animal:
Service animal relief areas in airports:

Find more aids and equipment for Seniors at
You will find low-vision information and aids at

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What is the upside of using a discount packager hotel site? Is there a downside?

The upside is easy. You can search for a hotel room in a city, or part of a city, and compare pricing and amenities across different brands. Does Quality Inn have a better price than the Holiday Inn? Is the Marriott more conveniently located for what I want than the Hilton? (Maps are available for every hotel and you can focus in on the exact street, or zoom out and see the closest freeways and accesses.) In the "description" you can find out if breakfast is included, if there a fee to use the exercise gym or to park a car overnight. You can also find out what entertainment is close by if this is to be a vacation destination stay. Is there a shuttle to the airport?

What may be the biggest issue on the downside is the immediate charge to your credit card upon your booking the room on the packager's website. Another downside is that some otherwise-free amenities may NOT be included without an additional charge (i.e., through, breakfast is usually not included in hotels that normally do include them with a night's stay). An extra charge may apply for use of the exercise gym, airport shuttles, etc.

So, is the basic price the same if you book with the hotel or motel directly? We found that in many cases it was. The difference was that for the same price, the hotel direct operator was able to give an AARP or AAA discount (if they had one, like Best Western does), and informed me that breakfast IS included for that even-more-discounted price. These two perks made the direct booking cheaper than the packager's price.

So, can you take advantage of the plus side of discount packagers' sites? Why not? Find the hotel you want and compare location and amenities on their site. Then call the hotel directly; don't call through the packager. This does NOT mean "call the phone number listed below the hotel address." On the packager's site, the number below the address belongs to THEM. You get an operator who is working for the packager.

Search elsewhere online to find the hotel-direct number. is one way to do that if it's a domestic hotel. Or search in or for the hotel by name or chain name.

By calling the hotel direct you usually can get the same rate as is listed on the packager's site. If a chain of hotels has domestic locations, but you want an international one, call one of the stateside locations. If they cannot help you with the international reservation, they will give you a domestic number where you can get help.

In this do-it-yourself age of instant-everything, use all the tools at your disposal to take the best care of you and your pocketbook.

For more information on Understanding Aging and ways to stay engaged with the world, see

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1. Cutting Through the Fog of Medication Ads
Do the TV commercials for prescription drugs amaze you? They show someone with the same health symptom you have, and miraculously, a specific drug has eliminated the problem.

Before reacting to what you have just seen, consider the source of the information (the advertiser) and what it is trying to accomplish with the ad.

The most common types of TV ads:

I. Product-claim ads name a drug and its purpose. Companies are required by the Food and Drug Administration to include additional information, such as the drug's safety, effectiveness and risks, and provide a way for you to find out more about the drug. Listen and/or look for the "fine print" words in the ad. Don't be overly influenced by the "celebrity" who may appear in the ad.

II. Reminder ads generally provide the drug's name but avoid indicating what it's used for. Also missing are indications, dosage recommendations or risk information. Again, don't be influenced by the folks in the ad claiming good results.

III. Help-seeking ads educate viewers about a disease or condition. They typically don't name a specific drug. Since they are not required to do so, they do not provide risk information.

All these ads provide information that may be helpful for your treatment. However, there is no assurance that the medication is proper for your condition. It is important that you discuss any prescription medications with your doctor before their use.

2. Catch a Silent Killer with CO Detectors
Every year nearly 5,000 Americans are treated in hospital emergency rooms for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs after excessive inhalation of CO. Carbon monoxide is very difficult for people to detect, but extremely toxic. It is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and non-irritating; CO is produced by incomplete combustion of organic matter with insufficient oxygen supply to enable complete oxidation to carbon dioxide (CO2) and is often produced in domestic situations by gasoline-powered tools, heaters, and cooking equipment and other fuel-burning appliances.

Symptoms of mild acute poisoning include headaches, vertigo, and flu-like effects. These symptoms can mimic other illnesses, and include dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea, and irregular breathing.
CO poisoning prevention requires public education on the safe operation of appliances, heaters, fireplaces, and internal-combustion engines, as well as increased emphasis on the proper installation of carbon monoxide detectors. Installing a CO detector that will sound an alarm when CO accumulates is the best defense. Test CO detectors regularly and replace the batteries yearly.

If the CO detector sounds, immediately open windows and doors for ventilation and turn off fuel-burning appliances. If anyone in the home is experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning, evacuate and call 911.
*Source: American Industrial Hygiene Association.

To acquire a CO detector, see

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We present here some words from those with a birthday this month.

Amy Lowell - "Let us be of cheer, remembering that the misfortunes hardest to bear are those which never come."

Leontyne Price - "You should always know when you're shifting gears in life. You should leave your era; it should never leave you."

Nick Nolte - "Now, there is always a tremendous fear of science and progressing forward into areas of the unknown and it is a valid fear."

Ted Koppel - "History is a tool used by politicians to justify their intentions."

Travis Tritt - "If you're gonna sing, sing loud."

More "Thoughts" at:

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1. Improving Energy Efficiency in the Home
Enhancing energy efficiency is beneficial to both your family budget and the environment. There are many simple things that can be done to lessen energy costs.

For example, the purchase of energy-efficient appliances is one way to reduce monthly energy consumption. There are various appliances, such as refrigerators, dishwashers, humidifiers and more, that are designed to work with more efficiency than ever before. Older appliances have the tendency to use unnecessarily large amounts of water and electricity to accomplish their basic purpose.

One of the simplest habits you can acquire is to unplug appliances that are not being utilized. Unplugging a computer and printer at night is one way to prevent a needless drain of energy. Televisions and DVD players are other examples of devices that use power even when they are clicked off.

To learn more about how to make your home more energy-efficient and greener, visit:

2. Sounds of Long Ago
Looking for some audio to take you back (way back in some cases) in time? The Newstalgia is the site to visit. It is a sister-blog of the politics site Crooks and Liars. The site has audio links from current news events, distant events and popular culture. For example, here are a few items from the last couple of months.

  1. Nights at the Roundtable - Raymond Scott and Dorothy Collins - 1951
  2. December 27, 1978 - Dodging Bullets ( Iran was in turmoil)
  3. Years of Crisis - 1955 with Edward R. Murrow
  4. Sunday Gramophone - Albert Spalding and William Primrose Play Mozart - 1941
  5. Newstalgia Pop Chronicles - Jack Linkletter's Teen Club -1955
  6. Newstalgia Downbeat - Carmen McRae with the Australian Jazz Quintet - Live from Birdland - 1956

Get your tin ear ready and visit the site at:
Find some nostalgic music here

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1. Smart Minds Go Pondering

- No matter how much you push the envelope, it will still be stationery.
- A dog gave birth to puppies on the sidewalk and was cited for littering.
- A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.
- Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

2. We Live by Words

- Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
- Remember, half the people you know are below average.
- I feel like I'm diagonally parked in a parallel universe.
- I just got lost in thought. It wasn't familiar territory.

"Oh My Aging Funny Bone" is at:

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This issue has been edited by Betsy Day ([email protected]).

Copyright 2011, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Information in this document is subject to change without notice. Other products, service and companies named herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders and are solely responsible for the content of their articles. Articles are included for informational purposes and are not an endorsement.

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