High School “Wizard of Oz” Uses Student & Her Service Dog, and We Have All The Feels

“Toto did not really care whether he was in Kansas or the Land of Oz so long as Dorothy was with him; but he knew the little girl was unhappy, and that made him unhappy too.”
― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz


Faith Armonaitis | TAPinto.net

Faith Armonaitis | TAPinto.net

We all know Toto as the feisty terrier, and Dorothy’s best friend from The Wizard of Oz.  But Judy Garland may have been upstaged.

In Hasbrouck Heights High School’s adaptation of the famous movie, Dorothy is played by  Erin Bischoff, a senior, dons the ruby reds, and has her real life service dog, Gauge, playing the role of Toto, perhaps the most iconic dog ever on screen.

Bischoff has “Brittle Bone Disease”, osteogenesis imperfecta, which causes her bones to break very easily.  Gauge helps her navigate the world safely, offering physical and emotional support for Bischoff, much as Toto does for Dorothy.

Faith Armonaitis | TAPinto.net

Faith Armonaitis | TAPinto.net

According to an NJ.com article,

“Erin was just really appropriate for the role, in so many ways,” says Paula Jacobs, the director of the show, who is also the adviser of the high school drama club.

“Her tenacity in the face of adversity is such an important part of who Erin is as a person,” Jacobs says. “It’s something, in combination with her sweetness and innocence, that is extremely important for someone playing the role of Dorothy.”

There’s definitely no place like home, and home is family, human and furkid.  We look forward to seeing more inclusive casting, as well as more of Gauge and Erin in future productions.

Keep calm and pilot on

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland Ohio

Placebo In Effect

It hurts doesn’t it? Your hopes dashed, your dreams down the toilet. And your fate is sitting right besides you. – Rounders


Some things just boggle the mind with how evil they are.  Fake charities.  Moms shaving their kids bald and passing them off as cancer patients.  Dogs being passed off as service animals who don’t even know the basic commands.

For a lot of people, service dogs represent a link between the world and a human who may be isolated either mentally, emotionally or physically.  That service animal is a door.  No, I’ve never seen a perfect service animal (hence the word “animal” instead of “machine”).  But typically these dogs are like the Special Forces of the dog world.  Meaning they’ve been through boot camp, Special Forces training and have had real world experiences (or at least the dog equivalent).  They are cherry-picked animals who were chosen because of their ability to handle public scenarios, because they don’t panic easily, and because they flat out can do the job.

Then something like this comes up:  A family has a child who needs help from a service animal. They save thousands of dollars to pay for the dog, holding fundraisers, benefits and drives to help cover the cost of the dog.  They finally receive their canine lifeline, and…he isn’t even housebroken.  He’s destructive. He can’t even do basic things that most dogs are taught in the first few months of living in a house.

You know that door to the outside world?  The one that some person has been waiting for?  Who has spent thousands of dollars on?  What if it’s locked.  Nobody has the key, and nobody ever will.

A recent article from Dogster described it perfectly:

But the point is that even in the best of circumstances, people who are trying to cope with illness or disability are already struggling against a stacked deck. You need an exquisite degree of sadism to not only deliberately exploit that pain and desperation, but add to it for nothing more than a quick buck.

Aside from trying to cope with whatever physical, mental or emotional challenges these dogs are supposed to help alleviate, they are actually making the problem worse!  Fake service dogs usually make you think of someone who can’t bear to be away from their little Princess, and therefore decide to call them a service dog and take them everywhere (even though poor little Princess isn’t mentally equipped herself to deal with the stressful situation these dogs are put through). That’s bad for so many reasons.

Companies selling fake service dogs though?  That’s a new low.  That’s like a pharmacy selling placebos…and charging you full price.  Oh, and there’s still side effects to this placebo.  Just no alleviation of symptoms. That’ll be $10,000 plus your hopes and dreams.

Keep calm and pilot onKerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio