by Sheila Styron and Donna Permar

Your dog is suddenly incapacitated by injury or illness. You have arranged for a ride to the vet that will come within the hour. What can you do to stabilize your dog until you can get to the vet? How will this illness or injury manifest itself? On Thursday afternoon, Robin Chambers, DVM, owner of the Companion Animal Hospital in Jacksonville, Fla., will provide information and action steps for a multitude of scenarios that may save your dog's life.

Join Guide Dog Users, Inc. for this and other workshops on a variety of topics of interest to guide dog teams. In addition to Dr. Chambers' presentation on triaging immediate care for your guide dog, convention attendees can look forward to a number of informative presentations and activities.

The overall good health and care of our guides is very important, and a second veterinary seminar courtesy of Phillip Hightman, DVM, Specialty Small Animal Medicine, Jacksonville, Fla., will provide information on canine health issues with a focus on treatment options ranging from holistic to standard veterinary care for common conditions.

Since the tragedies of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have so painfully and recently reminded us of life's fragility, there has been quite a bit of discussion on how handlers and their guide dogs can be prepared in the event of an evacuation due to a natural disaster. Tuesday afternoon, Rita Princivalli of Southeastern Guide Dogs, Inc. will inform us on how we can be ready for events we hope we'll never encounter.

Would you like to experience the exhilaration of traveling almost as freely as a sighted person? Everyone is interested in enhancing travel capabilities, and on Monday afternoon, Harold Abraham of Leader Dogs for the Blind will discuss using Trekker, the most portable GPS technology to date, to enhance travel with a guide dog.

How would you like to get to the head of your class with style, grace and freedom of mobility? This year, opposite the Trekker presentation, NABS and GDUI will co-host a joint session on incorporating a guide dog into student life.

Next, we will be hearing from guide dog school reps about what's new at U.S. training programs. Do you know which questions to ask when choosing a guide dog school?

Come prepared to find out what the chatty canine contingent really thinks about all the happenings at the Jacksonville convention. GDUI's Monday evening reception features Dogs On the Street by DeAnna Quietwater Noriega, a potpourri of brief canine interviews interspersed among all the tasty human appetizers or rather appetizers for the human contingency.

Would you enjoy walking along a relaxing riverside route under the sultry skies of Florida? On Tuesday evening you can sign up for this very activity, which will get under way right across from our hotel lobby.

Make your reservations early for GDUI's July 12 luncheon where keynote presenter Sarah Wilson, a renowned author and professional dog trainer (back by popular demand), will discuss the dynamics between trainer/handler and dog. You won't want to miss out on Sarah's captivating presentation style even if you don't have a guide dog.

After lunch, get ready to raise your paws high in the air for a great cause where your bite, er, bid will really make a difference! GDUI is holding its first ever auction.

Wednesday evening's entertainment is Waggable Tales. This is a celebration of our guides through presentation of original songs, poetry and stories. Reminder: There is time for approximately 12 performers, so if you have a tale to tell, please contact Maia Scott as soon as possible to reserve your place. Performance scheduling is on a first-come, first-served basis. Maia can be reached via e-mail at [email protected] or by telephone, (415) 334-1416.

On Thursday evening, get ready for "Downward Dog." Come learn how to stretch, do some simple yoga poses which include the position known as downward dog and really breathe, plus other techniques for a happier and healthier lifestyle if you're willing to "get down" with your guide (on the floor, that is).

As in past years, on Sunday there will be two hotel and surrounding area orientation sessions you can sign up for at pre-registration. Guide dog instructors will teach you how to teach your dogs the best convention routes guaranteed to get you where you need to be on time and in one piece.

Also on Sunday afternoon, the Affiliate Roundup meeting hosted by Jennifer Holladay is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. GDUI affiliate reps must attend to be credentialed for voting at the GDUI business meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

GDUI's pre-convention board meeting will take place at 4 p.m. Sunday. There will be some space available for observers. GDUI Breakfast Club

Are you up for a stroll to a nearby restaurant, returning just in time to attend ACB's general session? The Breakfast Club will convene Monday through Thursday from approximately 7 to 8:30 a.m. Veterinary Contact Information

For care during the day, contact Dr. Phillip Hightman at Brentwood Animal Clinic, 4605 Brentwood Avenue, Jacksonville, FL 32206; phone (904) 354-0547, fax (904) 358-7566. Doctors Rossi and Esser of Riverside Animal Hospital are also available for daytime care. Riverside is located at 2641 Park Street at Kings; phone (904) 388-3494.

For emergency care, contact Central Veterinary Emergency Clinic, 1546 San Marco Blvd., phone (904) 399-8800. Hours are 6 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Dog Food Orders

For convention attendees who wish to order dog food in Jacksonville, we have two suppliers.

If you are a Petsmart shopper, GDUI has made arrangements with a local branch where you may order your food. Petsmart is asking that orders be placed no later than June 8 to insure that your brand of food will be in stock. Call (904) 997-1335 and ask for Heather. All dog food orders should be made using a credit card, and you must identify your order as being a part of the Guide Dog Users group order. Dog food can be picked up in the GDUI suite between noon and 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 9.

Pet Supplies sells holistic natural foods such as Innova, Wellness, California Natural, Solid Gold, Pinnacle, Natural Life, Chicken Soup, Natural Balance, Royal Canine, Eagle, and Canidae. Orders must be placed no later than June 20. Call (904) 262-8111 and ask for Dick or Dave. Or visit the web site,

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