A home for people and their guide dogs

July 11, 2010 8:00:41 AM PDT
In the heart of Chicago's North Side, a supportive living environment was created for people who are blind and visually impaired and their dogs.

It is just as important to accommodate blind and visually-impaired residents as their guide dogs and other four-legged friends at Friedman Place.

Shadow, Fenway and Blackjack are the resident guide dogs.

"We have one therapy dog, Saki, that lives with us," said Heddy Lichtenstein, the director for outreach and human resources at Friedman Place. "It's great and goes from resident to resident and then many of our staff have adopted foster dogs."

Lichtenstein said dogs have always been at the center of Friedman Place's plans.

"When we purchased the building we worked with other agencies to create an area that was specifically designed for as guide dog run, and we have a special fund so that people who move here with dogs or who get dogs when they're here don't have to worry about food, don't have to worry about any kind of vet care or grooming," said Lichtenstein.

Since Friedman Place is extremely dog friendly, there are dog rules.

"The residents pick up their dogs' poop - they're trained in Guide Dog School," said Lichtenstein. "The dogs don't run around inside the building off-leash. The dogs are always on-leash in the building."

Friedman Place opened in 2005. Each resident has either a studio or a one bedroom apartment with kitchenette and bathroom. There is a full range of services available.

Sharon Tryba is the owner of Shadow. She moved here earlier this year.

She says her dog loves it here just as much as she does.

"She loves other dogs," said Tryba. "If it's a person or a dog, she definitely rather say hello to a dog than to a person."

Joel Jeffries has lived at Friedman Place since it opened. Fenway is new to his environment and job.

"I appreciate using these other dogs as good distractions for him," said Jeffries. "Obviously he needs his time, downtime, down to run and play."

Blackjack belongs to Robert Kinison.

"He likes to run with other dogs," said Kinison.

The dog area on the first floor is not the only place to hang out. They have a roof deck where the dogs can enjoy a view of the city.

"I love to see the residents interacting with the dogs," said Lichtenstein. "I feel that it's another sign of the kind of place we have here, it's warm, it's humanistic and anything that we can do that will help people thrive we're with in reason we're willing to do."


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