Wheel Me On... A Non-profit Organization

WMO Service Animals and their Handler's


An Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA Business Brief regarding Service Animals was posted on the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section, website in April 2002, for the value of education. This one-page sheet stating, "Duplication is encouraged", contained sufficient information to bring attention to requirements of Service Animals, their Handler's, and the public. Unfortunately, like many other Federal Laws in the United States of America, business owners, employees, and many other individuals know little to nothing about Service Animals even today. Hence, we enter into a new topic that is rather odd in that it is not "new", but is old in many years of time.
Julia Hollenbeck
Copyright by Wheel Me On... 2007; 2008
Photography on this web page Provided by Handlers and Owners

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Scroll Down to Read About a few WMO Service Animals


Branwen in Nashville, Tennessee, May 2006

Branwen lying amid colorful spring flowers

Branwen is a female Shetland Sheep dog who was born on June 3, 1995 and is pictured above very close to her eleventh birthday, enjoying semi-retirement, after serving her handler for 10 -years, providing many skills but most important, was her ability to guide. An interesting fact is the Owner/Handler of this Service Canine has been training Service Canines since 1980 and her trained canine assistant is not only beautiful but also extremely well behaved and attentive. She is even willing to do whatever her handler desires, including riding in a carriage.

Handler with Branwen in StrollerBranwen helps her Handler find things she drops, who used to be an Assistive Technologist and had to take apart computers, assistive hardware, etc. "Sometimes those pesky little screws pop out of your hand or off the screwdriver, and if they bounce on the floor beneath a table or desk, well, Miss B the techy dog will go to work! She can locate a tiny little paper clip, screw, dime, whatever, and will get it for me. She tends to find things on the floor even at home that she decides do not belong there - some silly human must have dropped something or better yet, one of the cats probably stole something and played with it! Here comes Branwen, (Miss B), unexpectedly, with something to give me, just like saying 'Mom, I found this and I think YOU need to do something with it!' She loves to do this," Wrote her Handler.

Branwen, (or Miss B), helps her Handler find steps and curb cuts, knows how to guide her through medical facilities and hospitals or buildings with multiple floors. Miss B also helps with laundry and whenever her Handler drops something, Miss B will pick it up and take it to her "Mom". Branwen retrieves shoes, takes off her "Mom's" socks and with everything Branwen does, she bows, barks happily and loves the praise she gets!
C. Andresen, Handler & Owner

Editors Note: Sadly, Service Canines age quicker than humans and while Branwen is enjoying semi-retirement, her Handler now has a new puppy she will train with Branwen's help to take on the responsibilities, because without a Service Canine her Handler would be lost. Her first Sheltie was the first registered Therapy Dog International (TDI) canine in the State of Tennessee in 1980 and her Handler developed a therapy canine program in the area of Bristol, Tennessee.

"Cattitude is Everything"

Cesar laying on stack of papers on desk

Cesar's Handler had been working at her desk, despite "pestering" by Cesar's sister, Shelby, and he, the Handler would not stop working on the paperwork she was avidly attacking. Knowing his Handler was too tired and overdoing it, Cesar climbed upon the desk and on top of the pile of papers, when his Handler moved away for a few moments. Then he stretched out and closed his eyes to nap. Despite these two felines ill attempts by pestering, Cesar's was the most effective way to make his Handler stop working, and in spite of Cesar's cheeky attitude, his Handler grabbed the camera, shot the photo, and laughed as she finally surrendered.

Cesar and Shelby, a brother and sister, Ragdoll bred cats (felines) are Service Animals who tend to the needs of their Handler who lives alone and uses an electric scooter. This Handler has multiple disabilities including systemic lupus, malar lupus, lupus in the eyes, and permanent damage to her back. Additionally, the Handler suffers with extreme migraines among other disabilities.

Many people believe felines or a cat cannot do anything to help a person with a disability, but this article proves how wrong that fallacy can be. Cesar and Shelby take turns going out with their Handler wearing harnesses and leashes, while riding in the basket on the electric scooter. Traveling inside of an automobile, the felines ride in a "dog seat" in the front of the car and do not use "cat carriers". The felines respond most often on their own as if sensing the need or the Handler uses a "dog clicker", to attract their attention. Both Cesar and Shelby respond quickly, which is important in case of a fire.

The tasks these Service Animals perform is rather amazing and very interesting: Shelby alerts her Handler to people at the front door by going to the handler and putting paws on the handler, or going to the front door and then returning to the handler. Shelby is fantastic at sensing and reacting to panic attacks by placing her paws on the Handler and bringing the Handler's focus onto the feline's blue eyes. Additionally, Shelby is very adept at waking up her Handler and pulling the quilt off, to help the Handler up on days when she is feeling well. On days when the Handler is not feeling well, Shelby stretches out on top of her and the warmth and purr coming from Shelby are comforting to the Handler. Shelby is also good at "pestering", bringing attention to the Handler to go and lay down, when the Handler is tired.

Cesar has a remarkable sense of when there is illness or pain. He has become this Handler's Pain Management Partner, to enable her to manage back pain without medication. The ability to go to the Handler, then remaining still, while the handler goes through her pain management techniques, are important tasks for Cesar. During 2007, this Handler had to use a nebulizer at home for breathing treatments. Cesar would go running to be with the Handler, (every time the nebulizer was turned on), and he never missed being there for a single breathing treatment. According to the Handler, "Cesar has a purr that sounds like an engine valve knock, but it is so soothing that Cesar stays right with me when I am ill and I can actually fall asleep". The Handler went on to say, "There has often been reference to a cat's 'healing purr' but Cesar seems to have that magic purr".

Even in the darkest depths of illness, these two felines are with their Handler, because according to their Handler, "It is one for all and all for one".

E. Plemmons, Handler & Owner
Scottsdale, Arizona

Editor's Note: In the case of Cesar and Shelby, these felines serve both therapy needs and task performance, (i.e. Alerting and Assisting). The above article provides greater education and awareness to our reading audience about "cats".

Progressive Story about the Golden Doodle Featured Below

Froggie with Christmas bow over left ear on 12/21/07

"Princess Froggie Loveable Doodle"

Hannah Joy ~ A Life-Saving Parrot

When Almo, a Senegal parrot passed away on June 10, 2007, his Handler was at a loss because this beautiful bird saved her life several times by wakening her when she detached herself from her breathing machine or was not breathing properly. When she fell asleep at the computer, Almo would wake her up. Almo passed away peacefully, but his demise was unexpected and his Handler knew she needed to act quickly for a replacement of her hero, family member and her pet.

She called a friend who performs rescue work and left a message of Almo's demise, hoping her friend would be able to help her. Instead, her friend showed up that very evening, with a parrot whose 91-year old mistress had passed away. "It was hard taking in a bird that quickly, but I knew that Hannah needed me and I needed her", the Handler related. "I am hoping I can teach her to be aware of my breathing problems and to react to them", she quietly said.

Then went on to say, "I can only imagine what it must have been for her to have her owner pass away like that and she able to do nothing but wait until someone came and found out what had happened. I don't push her at all, I let her make the advances. She still doesn't want to be picked up, however she will come and get on me and be loving. She has never offered to bite me but she will back off and I honor that. Hannah Joy seems to regard her cage as her 'safe place' and spends more time there than Almo ever did." The new parrot, "Hannah Joy", adapted quickly and within just a few weeks, she was waking her Handler up, by screeching or yelling when the breathing machine detached itself from her Handler or the Handler began making noises in her sleep.

According to this Handler, Hannah Joy is beautiful and her vocabulary can sometimes be as "colorful as her feathers". The Handler is teaching her new words to say that are more suitable for a Preacher's bird. According to Hannah Joy, when talking about her Handler, (referred to as her Mistress), "One of the new words my Mistress is teaching me is "precious". She calls me that a lot. When I use one of the new words, she comes hurrying to me but she just ignores me when I use one of the old ones she does not like. The other day, my Mistress was working on the computer and did not hurry to me right away when I said 'precious'. So louder, I yelled; "Precious, damn it!"
Gail McLeod, Owner/Handler
New Hampshire

Editor's Note: When learning about Almo, we knew he was not "a pet", but rather a Service Animal performing a specific task, that was indeed "life saving". We are pleased to know Hannah Joy has been able to take over his duties. (Photo is forthcoming from the Handler.)

Maggie Ready to Work

Close-up of Maggie; eyes appear white from flash of camera

Maggie sitting waiting for command This seven-year old Labrador Retriever Service Animal serves as a Mobility Assistant Canine for a man who is attending a university. Without Maggie, her Handler would not be able to function independently in society due to his disabilities, but the university is insisting his Service Canine is a "pet", and is threatening to dismiss the student from school, if he returns with Maggie because they were not presented with written documentation proving Maggie was indeed a Service Animal. (While school authorities consistently referred to Maggie as a "pet").

Despite the fact that Maggie's Handler presented the school authorities with a prescription from his physician, the officials at the university decided that was not sufficient information. In truth, Maggie's Handler did not need to provide ANY certification, prescription, or other documentation to prove his requirement for a Service Animal and in fact, this university is breaking the Federal Law by insisting for documentation. The only information the school system may request is knowledge of the task Maggie provides her Handler.

This is a rather appalling situation Wheel Me On... learned about regarding a member of our organization who must have his Service Canine with him at all times. The fact of the matter is educators or persons who work in an environment of "teaching" should certainly be aware of the Federal Law. How much more obvious does Maggie need to be as a Service Animal?

Side view of Maggie standing with red boots on in the show Maggie sitting in the snow Sun is setting and Maggie appears waiting for command to go home


Rufes, a Beagle in Training quietly sitting in the snowMaggie is registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) and weighs 56-pounds. She was already trained with public access and obedience when her present Handler/Owner received her, who complimented her earlier training with mobility needs for himself, and used Top Dog Training books, Team Work and Team Work 2, to help with her training. Her tasks include helping her Handler get off the floor and raising him from the floor. Additionally, Maggie provides her Handler with mobility assistance and relieves related anxiety pain by providing a stable platform for her Handler to lean on, for balance difficulties.

Maggie wears a harness and her Vest has been ordered for replacement, because her old one was shredded to pieces, by eight Beagle and four Coon Hound puppies. Maggie's Handler is presently training four Beagle canines as Therapy Service Animals that will soon be ready to go to a good home for healing assistance.

A. Michleski, Handler/Owner

Editors Note: All schools, whether universities, colleges, public or private schools should be aware of the Federal Law under the ADA and the United States Department of Justice, especially with as many other government facilitators and ADA mediators who are available to assist. There is NO excuse for any school to discriminate against a person who requires a Service Animal for his or her health or safety.

Saffy: Incredible Heroine

Beautiful white Maltese, Saffy, in a portrait setting

On the day of 9/11, Saffy merged into the world and later became a hearing canine when she was only one year of age. This beautiful canine lets her Handler know which door bell is ringing, that the Handler cannot distinguish between because the front and back doors have the same sound. When Saffy hears one of the door bells ringing, she runs by her handler and stops at the proper door. Not only does this Service Canine know which door to go to, when she hears a telephone ringing, she goes to the closest telephone her Handler is nearest, for her Handler to answer.

One day, this Handler had a grease fire in her kitchen, but her back was to the stove as she was washing potatoes in the sink, and she did not see the flames or hear the grease spitting. Saffy nipped at her Handler's heels to get her attention, who quickly turned around to see "flames shooting clear to the kitchen ceiling", and then quickly grabbed the flaming pan to hold over the sink until the grease burned off.

"Saffy surely saved me from perhaps losing my house, or worse, if those flames had reached my robe, and I will honor her every day of her life for that one act that saved me alone!" Her Handler said.

Saffy was a wonderful companion to her 83-year old Handler who recently returned from an 11,000 mile road trip across the USA with only Saffy at her side 24-hour hours a day. This beautiful white Maltese weighs all of three and a half pounds and wears a vest that carries her Service Animal identity and a leash that says repeatedly, "Service Dog" all the way up to the collar.
V. McGraw, Handler/Owner

Editor's Note: In the 1980's, a female Maltese who was by far the best retriever ever owned and would literally carry items on command from one individual to another as requested and pick up items dropped to the floor unexpectedly, served as an assistant until 1991 to this editor.

Sparkle - Ready for a Command!

Close-up of Sparkle with head lying on headrest waiting for command

Sparkle is a four and a half year old Service Canine that was rescued by her Handler, when she was a puppy, after she was nearly hit by a car on a busy street. Her Handler trained Sparkle to be a Service Animal. Sparkle picks up things for her Handler, opens doors that are accessible, and has learned to turn the key in her Handler's front door, just by watching the procedure of her Handler.

Sparkle with keys in month while laying on floorWith unknowledgeable management in public places, her Handler has experienced being told to leave businesses because of her Service Canine, but this Handler is steadfast in remaining and has on occasion, threatened to file a lawsuit if she and her Service Canine are "thrown out". She has been known to contact Corporate offices of businesses, and ultimately been asked to provide presentations for education of employees unfamiliar with the ADA Federal Law regarding Service Animals.

On another occasion, she was told to leave a nursing home because their manual stated that only "seeing eye dogs" were allowed, but she did not leave and after being informed that she was being "nasty", she informed the individual that she was going to get even nastier when she did leave. The Handler filed a complaint with the US Department of Justice, Disability Rights Section and ultimately oversaw the wording in their employee manual was changed to read "Service Animals".

This same Handler had problems with security personnel and even a local police officer moonlighting as a security guard at a mall. She told him if he had a problem, it would be a good idea to call his superiors, and turned and left. The security Guard followed her and her friends throughout the mall, but did not stop her again.

"We who have Service Animals must stand up for our rights; not to be harassed because we have these animals who love us unconditionally and are so willing to be of service to us." She wrote.
B. Anderson, Handler & Owner

Editors Note: There is a slight humor because this particular Handler works for a Center of Independent Living and knows the Federal Law quite well. If they approach this woman and demand she leave because she uses a Service Canine, they may well be asking for much more than what they bargained.

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Additional Information

Potential Service Canines Available

Bullitt County Kentucky Shelter
Contact Jerry Flener at (502) 543-8686

Therapy Animals

Therapy Animals are not "service animals" and therefore not entitled to the same privleges as service animals, (entrance to any public accommodation, building or transportation). Therapy Animals provide health benefits to people other than task performance and are frequently personal pets. However, under supervision by a Handler, Therapy Animals may be allowed inside a healthcare or medical facility providing the establishment or state law permits the visit. A Therapy Animal provides "therapy" and is not a task performer unless providing physical assistant skills or tasks for a person with a disability. Therapy Animals are animals in a wide range of species including canines, felines, fowl and even reptiles.


Calming Boa Constrictor "Larry"

Gover laying on top newspaper appears to be reading

A Madagascar Boa Constrictor, named "Larry" who lives in the Bay Area of California, is attended to by one of our members who is a writer and mental health advocate, as well as an advocate for the proper treatment and care of reptiles and amphibians. Larry was purchased from a pet store in Fairbanks, Alaska eight years ago, when his Handler lived there and co-founded the Fairbanks Herpetocultural Society. Larry was "hand-raised" from a tiny snakeling and she worked with him to ensure he felt comfortable around her and other people. Larry is extremely gentle and trained to allow his Handler to stroke his head and chin, which is quite unusual for a snake.

His Handler suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and Panic Disorder with panic attacks severe enough to require hospitalization in the past. When Larry's Handler moved back to California, she took Larry with her, but her panic attacks persisted and would often come on suddenly, accompanied by unnaturally rapid heart beats, perspiration, a feeling she was going to die, impending sense of doom, and a feeling of surreality. During a particularly severe attack, she asked to have Larry brought to her. Larry curled in her lap as she gently stroked his back and head, then he flicked his tongue on her chin, "It tickled!" His Handler exclaimed. Then Larry stretched out next to her, looking up at her from time to time, "As if to check and see that I was all right", the Handler explained. Remarkably, she said her heart beat slowed, the perspiration stopped, and the feeling of impenetrable darkness was gone. His Handler continued to pet Larry as he coiled up on her stomach, and ever since then, Larry is always at her side when having a panic attack.

Larry soothes and comforts his Handler, causing the panic to evaporate like water, when he sits patiently on her stomach, wrapping gently around her arm, and flicking his tongue on her face while allowing her to pet him. Larry's Handler highly recommends a snake to anyone with panic disorder, however, research is required first, since snakes are exotic animals and require specialized housing, treatment and care. Snakes should never be bothered in any way before or after feeding time because they can sometimes get themselves into a feeding frenzy and may strike at anything that moves, including hands and fingers. "It's not their fault. It's just millions of years of instinct!" His Handler said and then went on to explain, "When snakes are about to shed, they shouldn't be handled. Most are grumpy during this time because they are very uncomfortable. Imagine having plastic wrap all over your body and not being able to get it off."

This Handler and her husband have six reptiles, five of which were rescued from terrible situations, according to both of them. Two reptiles are red-tailed Boas, one named "Slither" has Inclusion Body Disease, (IBD), a fatal snake disease, and the other has terminal cancer, but this Handler has high hopes for this snake following the removal of a tumor by his doctor. They have two Black Throat Monitors from Africa: Grover, the largest one, is six-feet long and weighs 60 pounds! And they also have a cute Ball Python who suffers from a chronic bacterial infection. Larry, the Handler's Service Animal is a Dumeril's Boa from Madagascar, Africa, and a very special snake. He also has a disability, suffering from a chronic and perhaps ultimately fatal, autoimmune deficiency disease. "Through all the shots and treatments, he has been so brave, never biting or hissing and never complaining (in a snake way)", his Handler proudly boasted. Larry has a custom designed terrarium decorated with hiding places and plants and specialized heat bulbs to keep him warm and his own security blanket. Larry has a dog bed which his Handler places on her bed; "He will curl up in his bed and watch television with me. We like Animal Planet, of course." She said.

Larry and the other amphibians or reptiles do not need to be registered where they reside. In other cities, snakes "may" have to be registered and potential owners should always check local and state laws and regulations, which do vary from place to place. Additionally, when you have a reptile, it is imperative to find an excellent, well-informed reptile veterinarian. An ordinary veterinarian will just not be able to provide the specialized care so necessary. In addition, snakes are 100-percent carnivorous and Boa Constrictors must be fed rats and/or mice in captivity.

Larry's Handler and her husband are members of the Bay Area Amphibian and Reptile Society, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the welfare of reptiles and amphibians. In this reptile group, the Bay Area Amphibian and Reptile Society (BAARS) provide reptile shows within the Bay Area of San Francisco. Generally, their shows are well received and for the owners of these six reptiles, they are most happy to provide education to persons about these beautiful, (and necessary to our ecosystem), animals.
T. Hook, Handler/Owner

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