Yesterday Whitney and I took a train to River Forest, a suburb of Chicago, to do two assemblies at Willard Elementary School. One was for all the kindergarteners, first graders and second graders in the school, and the second was for all the third and fourth graders there. Some examples of questions the kids asked during the Q & A part of the presentations:
- Does Whitney like other dogs?
- How do you know when it’s days and when it’s nights?
- Can you draw?
- Can you swim?
- How can you cook?
- How do you write books?
- How do you drive?
- When you dream, do you dream in colors?
- How do you know if it’s a taxi cab or a car?
- How do you get through a door?
- How do you know what you look like?
- So are your dreams just in black and white, or in other colors, too?
- When it’s time to get off a plane, and your dog is there underneath, how can you get off the plane if you don’t have your dog with you?
That last question gave me a chance to explain the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Department of Justice’s ADA regulations define a service animal as any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. “Guide dogs don’t have to fly under a plane as cargo,” I said, explaining that Whitney is a service dog, so she comes right on the plane with me. “She sits with her butt under the seat in front of me, and her head between my feet.” Want a measure of how mesmerized the kids were by the magnificent Whitney visiting their school? I didn’t hear one single snicker when I said the word “butt.”