Local woman says good-bye to trusted friend

By on August 7, 2013


DENA REEDY Review Staff

, Staff Writer

Martha Hoover walks with her seeing eye dog, Artie. She said when he is wearing a harness, that means he is working and that people should not approach him. (Photo by Dena Reedy)

Martha Hoover has an important message for the community.

Hoover’s guide dog, Artie, was attacked by three neighborhood dogs recently.

"Two of them were in their yards and we were out walking on the sidewalk and they just flew up at us," she said. "The other one was in the park off his leash and attacked us," she said.

Hoover said because of the attacks, Artie must be retired and is going to live with a couple as a "well behaved pet."

"He can’t be trusted because as soon as he sees another dog, he forgets his responsibility of keeping me safe from falling over curbs and bumping into trees and poles," she said. "He wants to get to the other dogs before they get to him. He is kind of phobic about it."

"My guide dog gave me a lot of freedom and independence to be out and about to do my own grocery shopping, go to the bank and to go to work every day," she said, "and I was absolutely happy.

"My dog and I, we were a great team, and I could really depend on him," she said. "But since the dog attacks, I no longer can depend on him and my independence has been taken away."

Hoover said it is her greatest desire that people take her situation under consideration and realize that her dog is a working dog and remember that he has a job to do. She wants the public to know that if they see a dog wearing a harness that it is working and to "please not approach it."

According to Hoover, Gov. Tom Corbett signed a bill into action that if anyone’s pet attacks, dismantles or disables a working animal they can be fined from $1,000 to $15,000 or they have to pay for the replacement of another guide dog or even pay the vet bills.

"I was just made aware of this bill," she said. "It is a federal offense."

Hoover was born with an eye disease.

"Up until the age of 23 I was very independent and on my own with the little bit of sight that I still had," she said, "but by the time I turned 27, I lost everything."

Hoover said her greatest desire was to be independent and on her own.

"I wasn’t exactly sure where to go and what to do, then I heard about the Susquehanna Association for the Blind in Lancaster," she said. "I went in there and they were more then happy to offer me a sewing job. They also offered to give me my cane training."

But Hoover had no desire to use a white cane because she thought it wouldn’t give her the independence she wanted. So, when the Lion’s Club offered to help her get a guide dog, she jumped at the chance.

"We had to go through some paper work and training and all that stuff," she said. "Then I went to The Seeing Eye in Morristown N. J. for my first guide dog, which was a Golden Retriever, and due to circumstances, that one had to be retired."

Then she received Artie, who is a Yellow Cross.

"Now I have to go through the heart break of giving him up and going back to The Seeing Eye for another guide dog and training for three weeks to trust this dog," she said. "And then to come home after the three weeks of training and start our lives over here, and learning to trust this dog, introducing him to everywhere and hoping and praying this one will never be attacked by other dogs."

Hoover will get her new dog in October.

A dog costs from $60-80,000 from the day he is born to the day he is matched up to a blind person, she said. In the prime of their life, a working dog lasts for eight to 10 years, then starts to slow down and becomes forgetful. Then it’s time to retire them, she said.

Although she is not looking forward to saying goodbye to Artie, she is ready for her future companion.

"I just cannot think of going on in my life without my dog, my fuzzy, four-pawed companion, which is so faithful," she said. "We walk all over the place."

More MARTHA & ARTIE, page A20

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