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Pics We Love: A Legislator in Canada Brings Her Service Dog to Work

Quill helps Heather Forsyth hear better during sessions of the Alberta Legislative Assembly.

 |  Oct 31st 2013  |   1 Contribution

Traditionally, members of legislative bodies have had no more than two legs. Sometimes, due to misfortune, they might have less, but two is pretty much the maximum. That's just the way things are.

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Heather Forsyth is the first to bring a service dog to a legislative session in Alberta.

This week, that tradition was challenged when Member of the Legislative Assembly Heather Forsyth began bringing her service dog, Quill, into the Alberta legislature. This makes Quill the first service dog to be brought into a Canadian legislative assembly.

Quill won't be introducing laws, nor will he be voting, but he will be providing much-needed assistance to MLA Forsyth, who has had a hearing loss for about 10 years. Certain frequencies and sounds from certain directions are hard for her to hear. That's where Quill, a two-year-old Miniature Poodle, comes in.

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Heather Forsyth leads Quill, her service dog, up the stairs for the first time.

"I don't hear anybody," Forsyth said this week when introducing Quill to the media and her colleagues. "If someone's trying to get my attention -- behind me, so we're hoping that he will pick up that sound because you can imagine how noisy it can get in there. So if one of my colleagues behind me … are trying to get a hold of me, I can't hear them."

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Heather Forsyth walks Quill down his first gauntlet of inquisitive media.

Quill is trained to respond to eight different sounds, including the doorbell, a phone ringing, an alarm clock, and the fire alarm.

"He spins when there's a fire alarm," Forsyth says. "To let me know 'this is really serious, you really have to pay attention.'"

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Quill is on the alert, ready to help Forsyth with any sounds that she doesn't pick up.

He also responds to the sound of Forsyth's name; if someone calls her by name, Quill will direct her attention to that person.

So far, the collective response by Forsyth's colleagues and the public seems to have been one big, "Awwwww…" (Although in a much more dignified manner, because they're Canadian.) If Quill has made any enemies in Canadian politics, we haven't been able to find out about them.

He's still getting used to the idea of spending his days in the halls of power, though. For his first day at work, Forsyth said that he sat quietly under her desk while the session went on, although occasionally startled by politicians thumping their desks during debate.

Via Global News


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