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Last Updated: 01/26/11

Florida Council of the Blind's 10th Anniversary Dinner
Adams Mark Hotel, Jacksonville, FL
October 18, 2003

    Confetti and Cheryl were big hits at the 10th Anniversary Dinner and Dance for the Florida Council of the Blind.  Following is an excerpt from an email I received from Chris, Cheryl's husband, about this event:

   "The President and Vice-President of JCB and Cheryl dressed up to look like white canes--long white dresses and red shoes.  Of course, Confetti had to wear her red shoes, too!"

Photo of Florida Congresswoman Corrine Brown, Cheryl and Confetti

   "We got mobbed everywhere we went.  There had to have been 100 pictures taken of her that night!  Even after a long day of running all over Jacksonville, she was a perfect little lady.  We started out at 9 am with the annual Vision Awareness Walk on Jacksonville Beach.  After the walk, lunch at Carabba's and then SHOPPING!  We went to four stores, including her first trip to the Salvation Army Thrift Store, where she was greeted (as usual on first visits) with incredulous looks and huge smiles, and the usual barrage of questions and the infamous statement:  'I didn't know you could train a horse to do that!'  As is usual, wherever we go with her, we can't be in a hurry--everyone wants to know about guide horses.  While we were in the checkout line in K-Mart, one child exclaimed, 'It's Real!!!'

   Another interesting situation:  We were leaving the Adams Mark that evening, and a man came out of the bar in the lobby and said, 'Hi, I was in line in front of you in Wal-Mart this afternoon.'  Then he turns to his lady and says, 'See, honey?  I wasn't making it up!'  Then, of course, the Q/A and picture session.  I hope I'm not giving the wrong impression--we're LOVING this.  We consider ourselves as ambassadors for guide horses.  Of course, Confetti turns into a ham whenever there is a camera pointed in her direction.  What really amazes me is that when Confetti is in guide mode, she is totally focused on guiding.  When we stop to talk with people, she turns into a living stuffed animal that everyone wants to touch.  They cannot believe their eyes!

   We finally got home about midnight, exhausted, but very elated at the end of a long, but rewarding, day."

 


American With Disabilities Act 12th Anniversary
Adams Mark Hotel, Jacksonville, FL
July 27, 2002

    Confetti made her first public appearance with previous trainer, Debbie King, and her new handler, Cheryl Spencer, on Saturday, July 27, 2002, around 3 p.m. inside the Adams Mark Hotel in Jacksonville, FL.   Cheryl was accompanied by her husband, Chris,  and her present guide dog, Delta.  Confetti took everything in stride--she climbed the stairs from the parking garage lobby up to the second floor and then took an elevator ride from the second to the third floor where the event was taking place.  Almost immediately when Confetti and her entourage appeared, people gathered around.  It was a new experience for Confetti and she was a little nervous.  Debbie demonstrated some of the new commands Confetti had learned and gave everyone a chance to come up and meet Confetti.  

 

 

John and I had to leave around 4:30 p.m., but after the event, there was a small parade from the hotel to the Landing where Confetti got to meet many more people--everyone in the parade had to say hi to Confetti.  At the Landing, everyone pledged allegiance to the Flag, and there was a 21-gun salute.  Confetti took it all in stride with a little reassurance from Debbie.  After that, Cheryl, Chris, Debbie, Delta and Confetti walked around the shops inside (it's like a small shopping mall) where they even went into a few shops--and Confetti was just wonderful.


Confetti takes her first airplane ride in June, 2004!

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   I heard from Chris and Cheryl in June about Confetti's first airplane ride--the true test of a guide animal.  Below is the story, in Chris's own words, from an email he sent me.

   "Confetti has earned her wings!  We flew to Boston, MA, last weekend on Delta Airlines for my youngest daughter's high school graduation.  Confetti flew in the cabin with us and stood in the bulkhead seat area.  The photos are of Confetti between Atlanta and Boston and in the terminal at Logan Airport.  Since you have never seen public reaction to her, you cannot possibly imagine the kind of reception we received.  It was absolutely unbelievable!  Everyone we came in contact with, from passengers, flight crew, flight attendants, terminal personnel and even ground crew, were totally fascinated with the idea of her flying in the plane.  Everyone had to come see her!  Everyone had to touch her--they couldn't believe she was REAL!  Confetti did really well--better than I thought she would, and much better than Cheryl thought she would.  We developed a poo bag system for her in anticipation of her being frightened having an accident on the plane.  She surprised us both by not having an accident.  She has become adept at emptying herself out when we are going in somewhere and holding it until we get back to the van.  We took her to pee in Atlanta, but she wasn't ready to poo there.  She held it until we got into Logan, and finally couldn't hold it any longer.  It was 5-1/2 hours from the time we left the van in Jacksonville and the time she let go in Logan.  The poo bag system worked perfectly, and everything went into the bag.  I took it off, tied it and gave it to a nearby cleaning person who gratefully disposed of it.  No muss, no fuss, and, most importantly, no embarrassment!  On the plane, the first takeoff was a bit scary for her, but she handled it very well.  The first landing also startled her a bit when the wheels touched down, but she is an amazingly adaptable little girl, and she took her cues from us.  I talked soothingly to her on takeoff and landing, and that seemed to help her handle it.  The second takeoff was both easier and a bit more scary for her because she knew what was coming.  But instead of spooking, she leaned against the bulkhead to brace herself!  The second landing was no big deal at all.  This time she leaned against us, and, of course, we were bracing for the engine reversal.  She took it all in stride!  Then we went to Avis to pick up our rental car--well, actually, a Chevy Venture.  She had never been in any other vehicle but our van, and I was a bit concerned she would not board the minivan from the side door, as she had to jump up and in.  But, once again, she surprised me by popping up there without very much protest at all!  By the time we returned that minivan, she was a pro!  She really showed us how much she both loves and trusts us and how much she enjoys being a guide.  Speaking of which, Confetti was a tremendous help guiding Cheryl through the airports while I dealt with the luggage.  Being still a filly, she doesn't like standing still for any length of time; however, she stood totally still during the two-hour graduation ceremony without a single protest of boredom!  She has also learned how to brace herself in the capacious area of a minivan with the seats folded up.  She is an amazing little girl!

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   I can go on and on and on about her, but let me end by saying that the return trip was 11 hours, and she waited until we were in the parking lot in Jacksonville before she unloaded.  She didn't wait to get to the van, but she tried.  I forgot which parking lot I had parked in, and we ended up in the wrong one.  While I was trying to find the van, Confetti enjoyed a salad we got for her in Atlanta.

  I really want you to see Confetti in action.  I know you will be pleased with what a marvelous guide she has become.  Now that Delta has gone home, Cheryl is allowing herself to love Confetti even more.  Confetti has stepped up to the plate and hit a home run!"


Confetti goes on her first CRUISE in May, 2005!

Here is Confetti's story, as told by Chris Spencer....

Saturday evening, May 7, 2005, JBR Princess Confetti made Guide Horse History by being the first to go to sea on a commercial passenger vessel, SunCruz IV. At first the captain said no, she could not sail on his ship. We had to be a bit more forceful with him, citing the ADA regulations and showing her Identification card and even threatening to get the police involved. We were very reluctantly allowed to board. We went immediately to the third deck where the band and buffet were. We were greeted with "Look at the little horse!"  What happened next really blew our minds! A young man came over to us and said "Were you the ones who spoke with three State Troopers in the St. Johns County Rest area on I-95 about 2 years ago?" I replied in the affirmative and he said "I was one of those Troopers, and the other two are here also! I thought it was the same horse, but I wasn't sure so I had to ask. What a coincidence!" We chatted for a few minutes about the changes that have happened since then and he mentioned having seen the Public Service Announcement on TV, and about all the signs in the state being changed because of Confetti.

Once underway we were summoned to the bridge to speak with the captain in person. The captain had some reservations regarding her sailing on his ship - mainly the length of the cruise - 5 1/2 hours - and having no facilities for relieving an animal. When we explained that she was trained to relieve into the shopping bags and demonstrated how they were attached, he felt a little better but obviously still had some reservations. He asked if he could have a picture of Confetti to email to his boss. Of course we were more than happy to comply.

About 2 hours later, Confetti asked to relieve herself, so we took her into the restroom (she's such a little lady, she wants her privacy when she goes!) When she finished, I took off the bag, tied it off and put it into another bag to make sure all of the odor was contained. We then exited the restroom and who was on the other side of the door but the captain! I was carrying the bag of poo in my hand and he said, "Now I believe!" He went into the rest room (which happened to be just off the door to the bridge) and I never looked back. I don't know whether he went in to check it out or if he really needed to use it himself, but whatever the case, he found no mess from our girl! Shortly after that one of the girls came over and asked if we would like a "Players Club" card with Confetti's name on it as a souvenir of her voyage, and of course we said yes! She asked what name to put on it and I gave her both of Confetti's names, JBR Princess Confetti and Confetti Spencer.  She asked if she could have a picture of Confetti, and I suggested I take the picture and she be in it with her. She was thrilled!

About an hour later Confetti asked to relieve again, so once again we took her into the restroom and this time she peed into her bag, which I emptied into the toilet. No muss, no fuss. Shortly after that we were presented with 2 "Player's Club" cards, one in the name JBR Princess Confetti and the other in the name Confetti Spencer!

Then another hand approached us and passed me a business card with the captain's email address on it and the hand asked me to email it to the captain. I told him I would as soon as we got home. He said that I could do it right from the ship. So we went to the V.I.P. lounge where the computer was, they copied the pictures from my camera and printed an 8x10 of the picture of the bridge for the captain as well as emailing it. They then gave Cheryl and I "Player's Club" cards and told us that these would allow us free passage on any Sun Cruz ship any time we wanted to sail! How's that for acceptance? Toward the end of the cruise an announcement was made that the elevator would be turned off 20 minutes before docking and would not be turned on again until a half hour after docking, so we decided to go down to the first deck so we could get off fairly early. We hung out in the V.I.P. lounge while waiting to dock and we were told that this was one of the most enjoyable cruises in a really long time, probably due to Confetti's presence on board. She put everyone she came in contact with in a really good mood. What a compliment!

Shortly before we docked, a hand came to us and escorted us to the exit so we would be the first passengers to disembark. What treatment! They made us feel very, very special. Seems our little Princess got the "Royal" treatment that night!

She has come a long way and is really coming into her own. She is an excellent guide even in tight places and large crowds. The slot machines gave her a bit of a start at first, but we gave her some carrots and let her look at them and she was fine after that. There were about 600 people on that boat, and I'm fairly certain that every one of them at least saw her, and a lot of them asked if they could touch her. She tolerated all of the oohing and ahhing and the touching very well. She amazes me at how well she deals with crowds. "No big deal!"

 


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JBR Ranch, John and Barbara McDermott,  Christmas, FL 32709
email:  jbrranch@gmail.com


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