by Margie Donovan

This year's convention will be a lot of fun for everyone, including your guide dogs. Many informative, fun events will be occurring with you and your dogs in mind.

Because the Riviera Hotel will be having other events and conventions at the same time as ACB's, we need to keep the following things in mind:

There will be five relief areas around the hotel and convention center complex. Upon arrival at the hotel, you may want to find a volunteer or hotel staff to orient you to the closest area to where you will be staying. We suggest that you stay in the Monaco Tower in order to be nearest the relieving area by your hotel room.

Because Las Vegas is a very hot climate, it is important that you take extra care in keeping your dogs hydrated and relieving them on schedule. During meetings it is easy to forget that your dog may be stressed and in need of extra relieving opportunities, play time, and quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of convention week. So let's all be aware of our dogs' needs while we are in meetings and having fun at the casinos.

The Riviera Hotel has lots of plush greenery around the pool where sun bathers enjoy relaxing in the sun. We must be mindful that this plush grass is not a relieving area even in the event of an emergency. The hotel spends lots of your hard-lost gambling money to keep its landscaping looking perfect year-round. To help maintain the beautiful grass and landscaping, the hotel will add a $25 surcharge to the rooms of individuals found to use the landscaping as a relief area. This charge will be placed on rooms by hotel security, not ACB.

As for the Las Vegas weather forecast, it is always much hotter between the hours of 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Just as us humans do not want to take long walks in heat of the day (upwards of 115 degrees), neither do your dogs. A quick break to relieve is not at all threatening to your dog's health. Just don't make the relieving activity a social event where you stay outside for an extended period of time. Conventioneers may want to bring dog booties to protect our dogs' paws against the hot sidewalks.

Ice buckets are intended for cooling your liquid refreshments in the heat of Las Vegas, not to feed or water your dog. While packing your bags for the convention, don't forget to pack for your guides as well and include a bowl. If you would like, you can purchase the hotel's ice buckets for a mere $10 to feed your dogs. We will know you desire to make this purchase by using it to feed or water your dog. Housekeeping will add a $10 fee to the rooms of those using them for this means. GDUI would much appreciate you giving them your business instead of paying the hotel for this luxury.

Accidents are a normal part of our lives, whether you knock over a drink, your guides relieve in unexpected areas, or you put on two different- colored socks. The key is to be responsible for our accidents. If you put on two different-colored socks, you fix this at your first opportunity; you do not wear the same mismatched pair a second time. If our guides have an accident, we need to have bags to clean it up. And we can call for help. While it can be very embarrassing, you will be held in a brighter light by cleaning it up and making sure no residuals are left for others to step in. Therefore, you will want to add extra bags to your packing list as well as a bag or two of moist wipes such as baby wipes.

Now for two items of good news! We will have volunteer dog walkers available outside of the general sessions and GDUI sessions this year. Any arrangements conventioneers make to have their dog taken on a leisure walk with a volunteer is strictly between the volunteer and the handler. ACB is trying this as a pilot program this year. No special training will be given to volunteers on handling dog guides, therefore, ACB will not assume any liability.

Secondly, I am happy to announce that Naomi Soule is my replacement on the convention committee. Naomi is a long-time dog handler and she will do a terrific job serving in this capacity. She will begin her official duties upon completion of this year's convention.

See you all in Vegas, sniff sniff, wag wag.

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