It's a dog's life, and we're better off for it

I was watching the "Evolution" series on television and health inspectors were using a trained beagle to sniff out brown snakes in an effort to keep them from invading Hawaii.

Dogs do a lot for us. Well, not for me. My dogs basically shed and go to the bathroom on the back lawn. But I like to think my house is safer when I'm not home and they do provide some entertainment.

I can't imagine relying on either of my girls as a guide dog. We would mostly just go to fire hydrants and mailboxes in the neighborhood.

However, Trilby, a yellow Labrador and golden retriever mix raised in Gardnerville, is helping make life easier for Idaho resident Michael George.

Gardnerville resident Irma Janssen was in charge of Trilby's house training and social skills.

Irma has been training dogs since 1998, when she and her then 12-year-old daughter Elizabeth worked together. While Elizabeth didn't show an interest in a second dog, Irma had found something she loves to do and she is now getting ready to raise her sixth dog.

"Tril was my fourth," she said. "I've raised another dog since then and I'm waiting on a sixth."

Irma, who works for the state welfare division, is lucky because she can bring the dogs into the office.

"I take her into meetings with me," she said. "All day long the dog is tied up to my desk, then I take her out on breaks to do her business."

It's gotten to the point where Irma plays a game with her co-workers to see if they can name her next dog. All Irma knows is that the animal's name will start with an E.

Irma moved to Gardnerville in 1989 with her husband Ron and children Anthony and Elizabeth.

"I couldn't do this without the whole family's support," she said. "When the pups are around they know all the rules and are equally involved and just wonderful."

Only about half the dogs that go through the process of house training and socialization actually become guide dogs.

"Our first dog became a breeder because they really liked her physical qualities, temperament and enthusiasm," Irma said.

Two other dogs washed out of the program, one because it had hip problems and her most recent dog because it was afraid of men she didn't know.

Irma was able to place both dogs with Minden families, who would allow her to have some contact with the dogs.

"I'm very lucky to have contact with Trilby's new owner," she said. "Every day I get an e-mail from him or his wife. There is that chance that a new owner won't want contact with a raiser. You are not raising your dog, raising a guide dog."

This is the 60th anniversary of Guide Dogs for the Blind, whose Web site is

As for Irma, her new dog is coming June 11 and she is going to raise it with co-leader Laura Lau, who works in the Douglas County Building Department.

Since my dogs are deaf, or at least seem that way sometimes, I can't see them helping someone whose lost their hearing.

But the Good Sams of Nevada have been raising money for years to train hearing dogs.

Carson City's Tony Larson is the state director for The Good Sam Club, which means wife Carole gets to field the phone calls when he is out and about.

Carole and Tony moved to Carson City in 1973 when he was transferred from Fallon.

They joined the International Good Sams in 1981 and affiliated with the Silver Sage chapter, which covers Carson City, Fallon, Yerington, and Minden, in 1985.

"We raised money for five hearing dogs and finally placed one," Carole, 68, said. "We're looking for people in Nevada, who actually need them. That's what we specify when we donate the money."

The dog, a cattle dog mix named Dani, went to Tammy Bassar of Overton, according to an article appearing in the Moapa Valley Progress.

Dani was donated from the Reno chapter in honor of Dan Durant, who died in 1999.

Anyone interested should check out the Web site

The annual Fall Samboree will be in Weed Heights this year in September. Anyone interested in the Sams should contact Tony or Carole at 882-6335.

The Carson Camera Club's display at the Carson City Senior Center is being moved to make room for the Senior Follies.

President Larry Taylor said the seven-member club was going to lose much of its display space to remodeling anyway.

Larry is one of the seven members of the club, which meets on the fourth Wednesday of the month.

He has been in Carson City for about 11 years and gained some measure of fame three or four years back when he spotted a big infestation of tall whitetop at Long Street and Lompa Lane.

Kurt Hildebrand is managing editor of the Nevada Appeal. Reach him at 881-1215 or e-mail him at


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