Dear Members and Friends,
On Monday during our Des Moines chapter meeting, Emily announced that one commission board position has been made. Amy Salger of Vinton is the newest board member. Because there are now two members on the commission board, there is a quorum and business can be done at the next meeting.
The commission board meeting was moved to March 31 from the originally scheduled date, due to the new appointment and allowing Amy to have time to learn more before the meeting. See below a 2015 article from the Vinton newspaper, to learn more about Amy.
If I hear of any other appointments, I’ll be sure to let you all know.
ICUB State President
News : Guide dog makes life better for Vinton woman, area elementary studentsBy Vinton Today · December 2, 2015, 12:45 pmWhen the Salger family gathered for its most recent birthday dinner, the member whose birthday they celebrated had, as is the family custom, the opportunity to choose the restaurant.
The boys, Gavin and Reagan, joined parents Matt and Amy in wondering what restaurant Marsala would choose.It was the first time they ever asked a dog to decide where they should eat.Marsala, a purebred black Labrador retriever, joined the family earlier this year as Amy’s guide dog. Her 2nd birthday was on Sunday, Nov. 22.Stargardt DiseaseAs a child, Amy had perfect vision. But one summer, when she was in her early teens, she noticed that words became harder to read, and softballs harder to hit.“I went from 20/20 vision to being legally blind within 6-9 months,” she recalls.Doctors diagnosed Amy with a rare vision problem known as Stargardt Disease, a form of macular degeneration. There is no cure.While Amy has some peripheral vision, her condition is gradually worsening. She used a cane for a while, but one of the effects of her Stargardt Disease was a difficulty judging distance.While on a family vacation in Florida a couple years ago, the Salgers met some people from an organization called Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB).After learning more about this organization, the Salgers decided that GDB would be a good fit.School volunteersOn Aug. 10, Amy and Marsala met for the first time, and began their training."She greeted me with a wagging tail and lots of kisses," Amy recalls. "Back then I couldn't imagine how different my life would be, but now I can't imagine my life and our family without her. I am so thankful and blessed to have her, along with everyone at GDB who made our partnership possible and for the people who are now in my life that I can call friends."Amy and Marsala graduated together with a group of six other guide dogs. Shortly after arriving in Vinton, Marsala joined Amy for her first day of school at Tilford Elementary.Now, Amy helps students with math and reading, and she and Marsala also visit the Special Ed classrooms for pet therapy. The students love Marsala and she loves the attention. While Amy generally allows people to pet Marsala throughout the day, she reminds those who see a guide dog to ask their handler before petting it.Learning to walk with the assistance of a guide dog has been a smooth process; Amy says Marsala was a perfect fit – she was such a good dog that the leaders at GDB considered using her for their breeding program.Marsala knows when Amy snaps the handle on her harness that it is time to work; Amy demonstrates in the hallway how Marsala leads her along the left side. Although Amy can see well enough to know where walls and some obstacles are, she has learned to rely on Marsala instead of her own vision.There have been some funny moments in their learning process. Although the recent weather showed Marsala to be a lover of snow, she is not at all a fan of rain or standing water. She once led Amy into a puddle of water after jumping over it herself.About GBDThe GDB program includes a strong follow-up regiment which includes visits to the home and special training, if necessary. Most guide dogs serve from seven to nine years, before retirement as pets or companion animals. Marsala’s health and performance will determine exactly how long she works with Amy.Totally funded by donations, GBD has paired thousands of dogs with vision-impaired clients. The organization has graduations at one of its two campuses (California and Oregon) nearly every week, six dogs to a class.