Posts Tagged 'ABC TV'

Our Dirty Little Secret

To celebrate its 80th birthday, the Seeing Eye invited all its canine and human graduates to a reunion in Morristown last weekend. I love the Seeing Eye. I am very proud Hanni and I are graduates. But we didn’t go.

Here’s a dirty little secret: Being around a lot of blind people with guide dogs makes me nervous.

The American foundation for the Blind reports 1.3 million people in the US are legally blind. Only 7,000 of us use guide dogs. That means of the estimated 12,000 people who are legally blind living in Chicago, only 60 of us use dogs for guides. In any given situation, Hanni and I are usually the only guide dog team in the bunch. Here’s an understatement for you: Hanni and I both enjoy attention. And among the 300 who showed up for last weekend’s Seeing Eye reunion, we’d just be two more cute faces in the crowd. Worse than that, any attention we might get would probably be negative.

Just like parents at a playground, we guide dog users find it difficult to resist judging and comparing the behavior of our little ones. My dog handling skills are not ideal, and as a result my Seeing Eye dogs do not rank Best in Show when it comes to discipline. Both Dora, my first Seeing Eye dog, and Hanni, my current dog, have kept me safe for 18 years, and in all sorts of situations. But both dogs broke many Seeing Eye rules along the way. And the one rule Hanni especially likes to break? “Don’t sniff at other dogs.” She tries to ignore the dogs who cross our path, she really does. More often than not, though, she finds other dogs, well…irresistible. A reunion of 300+ Seeing Eye dogs could have been disastrous for us.

The people and dogs of The Seeing Eye were featured as the Pioneers of the Week on ABC World News with Charles Gibson last Friday, and the segment included footage from the reunion. Of course Hanni and I are now second-guessing our decision to stay home. Remember, we like attention. Maybe, if we had gone to Morristown, we would have been on TV!

Ah, well. Somehow, some way, the Seeing Eye managed to look fantastic on the TV segment without us there to help. The feature included an interview with Seeing Eye president Jim Kutsch and his wife Ginger. You might remember them from a post I published here after Mike, Hanni and I stayed at their house during a visit to the Seeing Eye a year ago.

Ginger Bennett (L) and Jim Kutsch (R), great hosts and great guides to Morristown, NJ. (That's me and Hanni bringing up the rear.)

Ginger Bennett (L) and Jim Kutsch (R), great hosts and great guides to Morristown, NJ.

The ABC TV crew also accompanied an instructor training a dog, and they filmed a litter of Black Lab puppies. You can link to the two-and-one-half minute story online, but be sure to have a Kleenex or two on hand. Mike teared up when he saw those pups!

Hanni & Me on Chicago TV

It’s official. Hanni and I are the Chicago poster children for disability issues. And why not? I work for a disability organization — Hanni leads me to meetings at Easter Seals Headquarters in downtown Chicago every week. Plus, Mike and I raised a child with disabilities. And, hey…I’m blind!

So last week when ABC Chicago decided to do a story on the presidential candidates and their views regarding
disability issues, they came over to Printers Row to film Hanni and me. If you missed our 8 seconds of fame on the morning ABC Chicago news last Sunday, never fear! The story is available online.

Karen Meyer, the reporter who covers the “Disability beat,” for ABC-Chicago, is deaf. As far as I know, she is the only newscaster in America who can’t hear. I unfortunately do not know sign language — thank goodness Karen reads lips. She interviewed me for about ten minutes, but I have a feeling there is more footage of Hanni in the finished piece than there is of my fascinating talk. The cameraman had Hanni walk me down the street a number of times after the interview was over. He needed just the right shot of the real TV star: Hanni!


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