Giffords' new ally is a service dog
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - When former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords spoke about gun control Tuesday, we heard a quick mention of a new ally: Nelson.
He's a service dog who helps her move around and may do other things for her too.
The quick glimpse ABC gave of Nelson the service dog doesn't really show him at work, instead Gifford's husband Mark Kelly holds Nelson on a leash while ABC anchor Diane Sawyer helps Giffords move down the hall.
In Tucson, Handi-Dogs did not train Gifford's dog but the organization has been helping dogs help handicapped people, for the last 40 years.
Marty Fulton told her yellow Labrador: "Luna! Stand. Brace. Good girl!" Then she used Luna's strong back to help her lift herself from a chair.
Luna helps Marty Fulton deal with back problems that make it hard for her to stand, and bend over.
Fulton dropped her keys to demonstrate. As Luna picked them up for her, she said: "Thank you. Good girl, yeah. Ok, you can have a treat for that, yes you can. Yes, good job, yes."
Dogs just starting their training have to learn to stay focused on duty above doggy distractions.
Marty Fulton says Luna knows her job and concentrates well.
"She knows when she's working in a store. When she's outside she's more free and she can be a dog but once we go in any building she's very good."
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked: "But she's disciplined enough to avoid the temptations of a lot of dogs, like you're in a restaurant, that food is not on the menu for her?"
Fulton: "That's part of the training is the 'leave it' command, yes, yeah, she has to actually go by a plate of chicken or beef or something. She can look at it but she can't go over and get it."
Petra Gross' dog Layla helps her cope with anxiety she feels in crowds.
She showed how Layla makes her feel protected in a crowd. She says, "Another task she does is pushing me back from oncoming people. That can be frightening."
She says without Layla's help she'd stay cooped up at home.
Often you see signs as you enter a store that forbid animals except service dogs. You can't simply say your dog is a service dog, they must be certified to have those special privileges and that's part of what Handi-Dogs does.