Listener Essay - Sending Up Flares

Dec 10, 2015

  Elisabeth Grace, a retired clinical social worker, writer, birder, and gardener has lived in the United States since 1972 but has deep roots in England and Scotland.

Sending Up Flares

It began with my commissioning Pete, who has worked on various projects for me over the years, to build a handrail. For those who haven't been at my house in Old Chatham, NY, I should explain that when it was built sometime in the late 1950's, a small plateau was created, interrupting the steep slope which comprised the property, itself a 200 foot wide strip running uphill from Albany Turnpike to an abutting lot accessed from Pitts Road. The lie of the land creates a tiny stream with miniature waterfalls in rainy seasons, and a driveway which is a slippery challenge for a few weeks most winters. The house sits squarely on its foundation but the entrances, facing north and west, are a few steps up from lawn and parking area. An open deck fronts the north side of the house, and a covered porch the west side; the latter was an addition built about 25 years after we moved in.

    Service dogs help people with disabilities to lead more independent and productive lives. Most people are familiar with the work of search and rescue dogs and guide dogs. Service dogs are called upon to perform a multitude of tasks.

Dogs at a very young age can be taught to turn on/off light switches, open/close doors, retrieve dropped objects and assist in dressing and undressing. There are many intangible benefits gained in placing a service dog with the right person.

The Empire Service Dog Program is the only NYS organization north of New York City that breeds, trains and places Service Dogs with persons with disabilities. Their annual benefit is this Sunday from 5 to 8pm at the Italian American Community Center in Albany, NY.