Gretel Will Be Inseparable Companion of Norwood Young Man, Jerome A. Pendergast
Gretel will soon take up legal residence at the home of Town Clerk James E. Pendergast in Norwood.
Gretel is the ‘’buddy’’ of Jerome A. Pendergast, son of Town Clerk Pendergast. so they will possibly share lodgings in one of the college dormitories while Jerome is a student at the Harvard Law School where he will begin his courses this Fall.
Despite obstacles Gretel, too, will possibly accumulate some understanding of the law, although Gretel is a German shepherd dog. Her preparation is considerable. She already has taken and passed the full course at the “Seeing-Eye” a training school for guides of the blind.
Twenty-four-year-old Jerome Pendergast is blind but nevertheless he is determined to study law and has entered Harvard for that purpose.
But because he is blind there has been some question about his ability to navigate safely between his lodgings and his class rooms and about the campus and wherever he may choose to go.
Young Pendergast received a bachelor’s degree and honors at Harvard last June. He will enter the law school this Fall. The only blind law student graduating from Harvard Law School thus far is William Plunkett, son of Admiral Charles P. Plunkett, but he had a male attendant.
Pendergast recently has been one of three students at the newly-organized New York College of the Seeing-Eye, the first of its kind In this section of the country, in Astoria, L .I.
Other students were Peter Gillen, local newsdealer, and Stanley Wastenberg, pianist, organist, banjoist and a baritone singer, who also leads an orchestra of blind musicians.
The course of study comprised three weeks of Intensive training and was completed on July 26. The faculty of the school is Joseph Weber, who for five years was a police dog trainer in Germany. He gave lectures twice daily. Each student was tested regularly in the progress of understanding between dog and master and there was a final examination consisting of an extended trip through the most difficult Manhattan traffic and consequently Gretel will be unable to guard him against low awnings and doorways.
Pendergast is an artist on the harmonica, but Gretel objects to such music and Jerome has laid aside his harmonlca.
The young man concentrated on municipal government at Harvard and he was assisted by a number of volunteer readers. Delegates from the Phillips Brooks House, representatives of the Red Cross and K. of C., retired business men, women and housewives aided Pendergast in his studies.
A friend of one of his readers presented him with Gretel and the Seeing-Eye Instruction as a graduation gift. Pendergast expected to enter the field of public utilities after finishing his law course at Harvard.
Trained With Dog
At the Seeing-Eye School the students have to brush and clean the dogs, take them for a walk regularly and feed them three times a day, and so the students get to regulate their own lives in the same way.
The dogs soon learn to obey the hand which feeds them. There is a thorough course in obedience, including picking up objects dropped, sitting when ordered, and turning as indicated by the specially constructed harness.
The master of the dog must always be demonstrative, thanking and petting his dog for every service rendered. The dogs are trained to walk around obstacles in the way of their blind masters, to stop at street curbs, to protect him against danger, and generally to act as his “seeing-eye.” Incidentally the dogs, all female, pay no attention to other four-legged creatures except when attacked. These dogs live from 12 to 15 years, but their working days are over by the time they are nine years old.
There are today 14 dogs in the country which are serving as guides for the blind. Herman M. Immeln, director of the Lighthouse for the Blind, which supervises the placing of such dogs in this part of the country, who was the first owner of a canine “seeing-eye” in New York city, explained that the idea originated with Morris S. Frank, a blind man. Frank is now manager of the national Seeing-Eye organization.
Gretel may long enjoy the distinction of being the only canine seeing-eye at Harvard Law School.
By ERNEST A. L. HILL