About Wagner


DECEMBER 31, 2004 - MAY 21, 2013

May 21, 2013

With broken hearts, all of us at The Laura And Wagner Foundation and Abled.com announce the passing of Laura's beloved guide dog Wagner.

But everyone who loved him knew him simply as 'Waggie'.

It is a sad irony that Waggie's passing comes on the same day Texas A&M University published the story seen in our previous post about his role in a great research program being conducted by the university in partnership with the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

His T-Cell infusions at Texas A&M dramatically reduced his tumor load, putting him, essentially, into remission. However, Waggie was recently diagnosed with erlichia (tick disease), likely picked up in Texas despite wearing a tick collar and being up to date on his frontline injections.

That overloaded his immune system which had already been weakened by a double dose of chemotherapy prior to the T-Cell infusions.

Waggie's condition rapidly deteriorated over the past week, and Laura had to feed and water him by hand. He started to have very labored breathing, and difficulty walking.

After fighting the bravest fight possible against the lymphoma for two years and 7 months, it was for the heartbreaking decision to end his suffering.

With the help of Dr. Carreen Loriaux from the Dierenkliniek Ijburglaan in Amsterdam, Waggie was put to sleep earlier today.

It's a devastating loss for Laura, and an absence that will always be felt. But she takes comfort in hoping that the knowledge gained from Waggie's T-Cell treatment's will soon help to save other dogs and human cancer patients as the T-Cell therapies are refined.

We'll be writing more in the days ahead about Waggie's treatments and the generous people who helped to make them possible.

For now, we are all just simply hurting, and mourning the loss of a dear, sweet dog who was the best ambassador a Foundation could ask for.

Rest in Peace Dear Waggie.


My dear Waggie,

You were my first wonderful guide dog. You were a real character, sometimes full of mischief, but you were always a trustworthy and loyal gentleman.

You helped me in very hard times, and saved my life on two occasions. 

I tried to help you as best as I could in fighting the cancer from 2010 onwards. But because you contracted tick fever in Texas, it became too much for your immune system over the past few weeks.

It is so very hard to say goodbye, but it was even harder to feel you getting so weak, despite what a brave, brave fight you were putting up.

Your legacy will live on in all the lives of everyone you've touched in Curaçao, the Netherlands, the United States and around the world and through the research knowledge that will be gained from your T-Cell treatments.

I want to thank everyone who contributed to our indiegogo campaign to be able to take Waggie to Texas, because your contribution continues to help build towards finding non-toxic cancer treatments for dogs and people with lymphoma and other cancers, especially children, because canine blood is so similar to children's blood composition.

The best I can close with for now, because the tears won't stop, is a favourite quote of mine from Linden: "Those with the brightest spirits are sometimes handed the darkest challenges to light the way for the rest of us".

I love you Waggie. I know your spirit will continue to guide me from heaven and you will live in my heart forever.


How We Remember Waggie

Wagner was born on New Year's eve 2004 at the breeding station on the campus of the Seeing Eye in Morristown, New Jersey, and is a male golden retriever.  He is happiest when he's "working", and when he's got his harness and halter on, he shouldn't be petted or distracted. But he's such a lovable guy that everyone wants to pet him and feel how soft his ears are.

He also loves walking and running, and swimming in the ocean. There's a small beach along the seaside walking path by the desalinization plant in Curaçao where he runs at full gallop into the sea and swishes around in the water barking, as though he's calling out to the dolphins to come and play. It's a safe place (a blind or visually impaired person needs someone who is sighted to evaluate whether an area is safe for the dog to run loose) where he can take a short break from his duties.

Sometimes he'll encounter other dogs whose owners don't realize that when another dog is loose, they should drop the lead if their own dog is leashed, and allow the dogs to naturally socialize. If you keep them leashed, they are also "working" , protecting the owner, and a fight could ensue.

Wagner is making lots of friends on the island, but it's a challenge because of the cultural dynamics. A lot of people here are only accustomed to seeing stray street dogs or guard dogs and are naturally afraid of an animal the size of Waggie.  But if he's not in working mode and they get a chance to pet him, he wins them over very quickly.

You can read about how Laura was introduced to Wagner here. And below you'll find more information about the Seeing Eye's Breeding and Puppy Raising Programs.

Also, click on the link About Guide | Assistance Dogs in the index to the left to learn more about service animals and the invaluable role they play in bringing more independence to the lives of disabled people.

The Seeing Eye

At the new 'Morris Frank Park' near the Green in Morristown, New Jersey is the sculpture:

'The Way of Independence'

It is:

'The way that a person who has lost sight can cut his dependence on other human beings, and that is a very important thing for someone's psyche to have that'.

Sculptor J. Seward Johnson

The sculpture was dedicated on April 29, 2005 - the 75th anniversary of the founding of The Seeing Eye by Morris Frank who obtained his guide dog buddy from dog trainer Dorothy Eustis in Switzerland. She had been teaching blinded war veterans how to regain their independence with guide dogs. Morris promised to pass on the knowledge, and began training 17 students in 1929.


The Seeing Eye,® Inc., is the oldest existing dog guide school in the world. Twelve times a year, as many as 24 students at a time visit the Morristown, N.J., campus to discover the exhilarating experience of traveling with a Seeing Eye dog.

Genetics & Breeding

Before conception even occurs, throughout training, and until the end of its working career, a Seeing Eye dog has been directed to its special destiny with the benefit of science.  Today, The Seeing Eye leads the way in its research in canine genetics, breeding, disease control, and behavior.

Much of our research is driven by the fact there is no “perfect Seeing Eye dog.”  Variations in temperament, size, strength, stride, and energy are characteristics that must be closely matched to create a successful partnership.  From developing a computer information system that calculates the suitability of every dog in the colony to become a breeder, to funding cutting edge research in DNA sequencing, The Seeing Eye is the leader in building, if not the “perfect dog,” then certainly the most healthy, productive, predictable, and reliable dog guides possible.

The Seeing Eye breeds German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and Lab/golden crosses.  Our breeding station, dedicated in 2002, consists of interconnected geometric pavilions, designed so that dogs can see each other and see people enter the kennel, so barking –not to mention stress – are greatly reduced.  The goal was to provide a facility most conducive to a positive early childhood experience for the puppies and to providing a healthy, active lifestyle for the adult dogs.

The Seeing Eye breeds its own dogs for the program: German shepherds, Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers. Female dogs produce four litters and male dogs sire up to 15 litters before they are matched with a student or are adopted by a loving family.

Apply for a Puppy

When Seeing Eye puppies reach the age of 7 or 8 weeks, they are delivered to the homes of volunteer “foster families” who nurture and care for their charges until they are about 16 to 18 months old. Families in New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, and parts of Maryland and New York, give the dogs abundant affection, teach them basic obedience, and expose them to a variety of social situations they will later encounter as working dogs. Many of these volunteer families have children, while a number of retired adults also volunteer their time for our puppies.

For more information about becoming a puppy raiser, consult the list below and call The Seeing Eye Area Coordinator for your county. You will be invited to a puppy club meeting in your county where you can learn more about the program first-hand. For more information, e-mail the Puppy Placement department at puppyraisers@seeingeye.org.

Instruction & Training

Twelve times each year, a group of up to 24 students arrives in Morristown from all over the United States and Canada to begin their instruction with Seeing Eye dogs. Every dog is specifically matched to meet the individual needs of each student.  Matches are made based on handler/dog compatibility in strength, pace, temperament, and home environment.

Students arrive on campus on Saturday and receive their dogs two days later.  If receiving their first dog guides, they stay to train with the dogs for 27 days; for subsequent dogs, the instruction lasts about 20 days. Each student is assigned to work with one instructor, who has no more than four or five students in a class. 

Daily instructional routines may include traveling throughout the heavily trafficked streets of downtown Morristown, the quiet residential areas, country roads, shopping malls, train stations, bus routes, hotels, and even the nearby streets of New York City.  When the newly formed teams leave The Seeing Eye, they have mastered the techniques they will need to navigate safely through daily life in their hometowns.

Guide Dog Accessibility

From Wikipedia

Despite regulations or rules that deny access to animals in restaurants and other public places, in many countries, guide dogs and other types of assistance dogs are protected by law, and therefore may accompany their handlers most places that are open to the public. Laws and regulations vary worldwide:

  • In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits any business, government agency, or other organization that provides access to the general public from barring guide dogs. However, religious organizations are not required to provide such access. The Fair Housing Act requires that landlords allow tenants to have guide dogs in residences that normally have a No Pets policy and no extra fees may be charged for such tenants. Whether guide dogs in training have the same rights or not usually falls on each individual state government.
  • In most South American countries and Mexico, guide dog access depends solely upon the goodwill of the owner or manager. In more tourist-heavy areas, guide dogs are generally welcomed without problems. In Brazil, however, a 2006 federal decree [2] requires allowance of guide dogs in all public and open to public places. The Brasília Metro has developed a program which trains guide dogs to ride it.
  • In Europe, the situation varies. Some countries have laws that govern the entire country and sometimes the decision is left up to the respective regions.
  • In Australia, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 protects guide dog handlers. Each state and territory has its own laws, which may differ slightly.
  • In Canada, guide dogs are allowed anywhere that the general public is allowed.
  • Because Islam considers dogs in general to be unclean, many Muslim taxi drivers and store owners have refused to accommodate customers who have guide dogs. In 2003, the Sharia Council, based in the United Kingdom, ruled that the ban on dogs does not apply to those used for guide work,[3] but many Muslims continue to refuse access, and see the pressure to allow the dogs as a restraint on religious liberty.[4] Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra of the Muslim Council of Britain has argued strongly that Sharia does not preclude working with guide dogs, and it is actually a duty under Sharia for a Muslim to help the visually impaired.
  • In South Korea, it is illegal to deny access to guide dogs in any areas that are open to the public. Violators are fined for no more than 2 million South Korean won. [5]


Commonly Asked Questions About Service Animals in Places of Business. U.S. Department of Justice (1996). Retrieved on 2006-02-09.

See also

External links

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Categories: Articles needing additional references from June 2007 |

Service Animal Law and Discrimination Facts

Service animals are those animals that have been specially trained to help people with disabilities. They are also called “support animals” or “assistance animals”. Besides assisting people with disabilities, service animals may be utilized for Search and Rescue (SAR) operations and the law enforcement agencies. Although dogs are most commonly used as service animals, other animals such as horses and capuchin monkeys are used for individual assistance as well.

Here is a list of websites that provide information on service animals and service animal laws:

FAQs about Service Animals

Information about Service Animals

What Do These Animals Do?

How are Service Animals Trained?

Additional Resources

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