Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Letter (from and to) The Penobscot Theatre Company Regarding Their decision That Service Dogs Who Tried Out for the Part of "Sandy" in the Play "Annie" are Automatically Disqualified

White Lettering

Q- Did they sayon the "Sandy" application that Service Dogs were not allowed to try-out for the part?

A- No, it did not.  It said "All breeds welcome".

One of the chosen "Sandy" dogs and some of the orphans.

----- Original Message -----
From: bari newport
Sent: Monday, August 20, 2012 11:55 AM
Subject: Penobscot Theatre Company - Sandy Auditions

What a wonderful day Saturday was. I hope you and your doggie had a good, low-stress time of it. 
We ended up seeing 15 dogs of all shapes and sizes. Some dogs were super trained and had super skills and other dogs were goofy but well-behaved, family pets. 
Proof once again that dogs are simply THE MOST AMAZING.

I underestimated how difficult the decision would be! In the end, we narrowed our choices down to five dogs. We did this by eliminating service dogs - they were clearly the most versatile in terms of what they are capable of doing - and certainly they are used to noises and lights, children and excitement - but casting them in a play seems counterintuitive to their role in your life, as you have trained them to do very specific tasks just for you - and it is important that their focus remains as such.

And we narrowed the scope further based on what kind of energy and look the dog had. Incredibly tough decisions. 

I thank you most sincerely for sharing your furry family member with us. You were gracious and kind - and I am humbled to be a part of your community. Thank you.

See you at the theatre! 


Bari NewportArtistic Director
Penobscot Theatre Company
Bangor Opera House - 131 Main Street
Administrative Offices - 115 Main Street, 4th floor
207. 942.3333 (Box Office)
207.947.6618 (Admin)
207.947.6678 (fax)

Coming Up!

PTC SUMMER CAMP, July 2 - August 11


Always. Patsy Cline, September 5 - September 23
Becky's New Car, October 17 - November 4
Annie, December 5 - December 29
The Sugar Bean Sisters, January 30 - February 17
WIT, March 13 - March 31
Around the World in Eighty Days, May 15 - June 2

Rosie and a fellow service dog who also tried out for the "Sandy" role.
Here they are in a sit-stay in the middle of the Bangor Mall.

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, August 20, 2012 12:52 PM
Subject: Re: Penobscot Theatre Company - Sandy Auditions- re: Service Dogs Not Allowed

To Whom it May Concern;
I guess that means we won't be seeing any of you at the Scenes and Songs  night on the 23rd. 
Who told you that casting a service dog would take the focus off of their handlers?  Don?  Why was Don chosen out of all the other very good trainers in the area?  For example, choosing one who actually works with and trains service dogs (AND pet dogs), some of which do have dual roles being a show dog, agility dog, or a competitive duck retrieving dog (to name a few).  That is not Don's expertise.  He wouldn't be the first trainer I would have chosen for the job (but then of course it wasn't my job).  He's also not the only trainer that gives therapy dog tests in the area.  I am pretty sure Don had said allowing service dogs to take the coveted role of Sandy was not a good idea since he probably uses ADI's therapy dog test. (ADI believes service dogs can't/ shouldn't be therapy dogs because they would be confused about their roles).  Not to mention I really think he knows very little about service dogs in general.  Thousands of service dog handlers all over the US would beg to differ with their opinion.  The organization has also been known to take away certification from service dogs that had previously passed their therapy dog tests, and had been working as therapy dog already. (They have actually done this for other various, unfound reasons with assorted other dogs). After nearly 8 years of training and testing (and note: not with Don) and spending 24 hours a day with my dog, I would know my dog better than Don.
I guess most of all, I feel cheated (for my dog) of a fair chance at the Sandy role.  If I thought we couldn't handle this job together I would not have bothered to come in.  It could be my dog never had a chance, but after the comments from the woman who escorted me out of the theatre and invited me to the event on the 23rd, I thought we had a good shot.
To say the least, I am disappointed.  Not because my dog did not get the role, but that just because she is a service dog, she didn't even have a fair chance.  I had expected disappointment if my dog didn't get the role.  This just brought it to a new level of disappointment.
As the ADA says about people with disabilities in the workplace, if I have the qualifications, and without my disability I would have been hired for the job, but because of my disability, the employer won't even consider hiring me,  that is discrimination. Now my dog is disqualified because she's a service dog and I am her disabled handler.  She may be qualified, but because I am disabled and her job is to assist me, she doesn't have a chance. To me, it just feels like another "access denied". 

What if I decided to try out for a part in a play that you all were putting on?  Would you say no because I have a service dog and she would not be near me if I was in a play?  OR would you say no because I am disabled.  Period.  Think carefully.  If you choose wrong, you could have some legal problems arise.
Next time, maybe you should say right on the form that service dogs are not allowed to audition.  You may get a few angry responses from that, but at least the person could save some energy and not bother with the application and audition process.
Sorry if I sound harsh at all, but feelings were hurt here.
Thank you for your time,
Heather Gerquest


Since the try-outs for the "Sandy" role, I attended the Paws on Parade fundraising event in Bangor, Maine.  It was there that I heard your dog trainer talking to another person saying he did not know how medical alert dogs work, such as a Diabetic Alert dog or Seizure Alert dog, not even the cancer sniffing dogs.  I thought every trainer knew this, or at least would have wanted to find out years ago when some of these types of service dogs came about.  So this guy is supposed to understand individuals with disabilities, their service dogs and the Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA (Newly revised) as well?  Does he even know about the Americans with Disabilities Act is?

And the above photographed chosen dog, a dog training friend of mine said the dog looked anxious when she tried out, that she even ran off the stage.  In this photo it was suggested that the dog was showing some anxiety from turning away from everyone, and I saw an inability to follow any commands.  I also think she was overheated and needed some water, or maybe the panting was another way she was showing her anxiety, but that is not what I am concerned about.

Re: Rosie's birthday video

What a lovely tribute to a lovey dog.
-deb and eowyn

On 8/26/2012 8:54 PM, Heather Gerquest wrote:

Hi everyone!  It's Heather and Rosie in Maine.  I thought you all would enjoy seeing Rosie's 8th birthday slideshow!  I hope everyone is well!
Take care,
Heather Gerquest and (Jaydens) Rowena
Bangor, Maine

--   Deborah Eve Rubin  Eowyn ( http://www.dogster.com/dogs/1113559 )  Toby ( http://www.dogster.com//?411209 )