Sunday reading: a story about a boy and his dog

Yes, it’s a story about a boy and a dog. But it’s so much more. This story delves deeply into the therapeutic benefits of helper dogs for children with disabilities — and the story of one child, in particular.

(When you hit the link, scroll down because the story is situated low on the page.)

This was my Sunday reading, and I think it’s a great example of what happens when a reporter manages to turn the inside out.

The other story I couldn’t stop reading today was this one, from the latest New Yorker, about Tyler Clementi — the young man whose suicide helped galvanize the “It Gets Better” movement. The reporting here tells a different, more nuanced story about what happened between Tyler and his roommate, who is accused of cyber-bullying Tyler.

The reporting in both these stories is seamless and sensitive.

What did you read this weekend?

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21 Responses to Sunday reading: a story about a boy and his dog

  1. I’ve been reading (well, watching…) a new website that I found through my internet stumbling. It’s called “California is a place.” and I posted one of the videos on my blog last night. It doesn’t really necessarily pertain to what you wrote about, and the stories are very random and quirky, but the goal of this website is to portray California in a light that shows its eccentricities. Not only are the videos fantastic and beautifully put together, but the stories they tell really are significant. In the video I posted, “El Rey,” you learn about a Mariachi. Who knew how interesting a Mariachi’s life is! I think it’s great to see stories that seem so random, but in the end, seem so applicable after you read/watch them. The story about the disabled child and his dog reminded me of that; how any little story might add meaning to our lives than we may not find in any other way.

  2. Karee Hackel says:

    Reblogged this on Karee Hackel.

    • Karee Hackel says:

      This story was incredible. When the reporter described the introduction between Chancer and the Winokur family, I got chills. The relationship between Iyal and Chancer was depicted perfectly. This golden retriever changed this boy and his life, which truly allowed the reader to understand and appreciate how amazing service dogs can be. It’s great, in-depth reporting like this that creates a connection between the readers, the reporter and the subjects. It’s reporting like this that truly makes me appreciate the different realms and audiences that journalism can reach and impact.

      This weekend – amidst the excitement of Game Day – I found time to read some stories that really sparked my interest. Lately, I’ve been really interested in the scandal with the Susan G. Komen Foundation and their recent reversal of their decision to pull funding for breast screenings from Planned Parenthood. As a woman, this is definitely relevant to my life. This article ( from the Huffington Post really interested me. I specifically clicked on this link via Twitter because, I was eager to read the apology issued by SGK. Despite accusations of their decision to pull funding based on political issues, Susan G. Komen retorted these accusations as being completely false. This article included both the apology from SGK and the response from Planned Parenthood. It was an easy and accessible way for me to stay informed on this issue while being able to know and understand both sides of the story.

      Here are a few other articles that have caught my eye…,0,2307594.story

  3. chrisroll13 says:

    I can safely say I didn’t read anything as touching as “Wonder Dog” or as deeply unsettling as “The Story of a Suicide.” In fact, I am loathe to admit, I didn’t read much of anything this weekend.
    The combined assault of deadlines, homework, “work”-work, a particularly venomous cold and the Super Bowl kept me either too busy or too groggy to do much outside reading.

    I did do a lot of writing, though. I had a G.A. shift on Friday, and subsequently stayed up past midnight working on a movie review for Vox (go watch “Chronicle,” by the way. It’s quite good). I missed the entire KU game because I knew it was the only time slot I had free this weekend to sit down and revise my other two Vox articles. And yesterday, I spent my 20-minute break at work going over revisions to a book review with an editor (who, coincidentally, is a coworker). And the cycle begins anew today, now that my second drafts are done and I’ll be getting a fresh batch at 4.

    I guess the bottom line, though, is that stress isn’t an excuse. If I’m serious about this journalism thing . . . if I’m really going to be the best I can be . . . I’m going to have to be just as diligent in my reading as I am in my writing. It’s not enough for me to casually take a gander at The Missourian’s website in the morning anymore, or to glance at the highlights on the Yahoo News homepage . . . if I’m going to make news, I’m going to have to actively seek it out, too.

    So yeah, that’s my ramble. Things are going to change.

  4. Allison Pohle says:

    I had also read the Tyler Clementi article this past weekend. I stumbled across it after a friend posted the link on Twitter and suggested it to any one who had time to sit down and read it. I had read a lot about the case early on and, as you pointed out, this story is very different. In all the accounts I’ve read, including tweets from the self-proclaimed human rights activist Lady Gaga, Ravi was made out to be an insensitive villain who thoughtlessly publicized his roommate’s private affairs. In this article, Ravi seems more human. While what he did is obviously very wrong, he also appears to be more of a young adult who truly just messed up. The part where he sent the text to Clementi unknowing that it was already too late was especially striking and painful to read.

    The in-depth accounts of Clementi’s exchanges with his friend, the details about the pictures of bridges and the extensive background information all show evidence of incredible, thorough reporting. The story seems to tell itself and at the end, the reader is left to determine for his or herself what the outcome is. I wasn’t left with any questions and I pondered the article for some time after reading it.

    This reporter took on a big task in finding out more about the entirety of the story. When a young person takes his own life after seemingly being attacked, it’s probably easiest to take the side of the victim and report on what’s known. This reporter went above and beyond any reporting on this story that I’ve seen.

    I think it also ties back to the accuracy and timeliness posts shown earlier on this blog. While this isn’t the first story about Clementi to come out, it is the most extensive that I’ve read. This reporter covered all the bases, which is something I as a reader will continue to remember long after the outcome is decided.

  5. Nina Pantic says:

    Shockingly enough I got completely obsessed with the KU game and the first thing I did on Sunday was scan through a few stories covering the game. I like reading about something that I’ve witnessed live, kind of like when you watch a movie and go read the book (or vice versa). I read the Missourian story about the frenzy and hype surrounding the game:
    But I saw the madness of the fans right before the game (and during), and I actually think the article could have captured it better. There was an animalistic every-man-for-himself type of stampede in the student section line outside right when the doors opened. During the chaos that followed some of the students crowd surfed, chanted all sorts of things, whistles were being blown like crazy and then people crowd surfed metal barrier railings. Even the student-athlete line was an absolute chaotic mess of bodies jumbled and pushed together.
    My other point is, I think the picture gallery does a greater job of capturing the spirit and action of the game, which I feel is common in sporting events. As a college athlete myself I’ve noticed that videos and photos tend to paint a better picture in sports unless there’s a solid story behind a score or result.

  6. “Wonder Dog” is a perfect example of how to enrich an article by weaving in other related stories. I enjoyed reading about Karen Shirk and her experiences. Her history with disability and animals was so perfectly worked into this piece about a disabled child. The article would not have been as interesting without her perspective. This just goes to show how important multiple sources and different perspectives are in our writing.

  7. Celia Ampel says:

    I read the entire Tyler Clementi New Yorker piece on my phone during a Super Bowl party. Yes, I know. But like you, I couldn’t stop! It was horrifying to watch the story unfold as quickly as it did, especially because so many of the details were so ordinary — everyone makes judgments about their future roommates, and some of us probably made negative, unfair or prejudiced ones. I kept wanting to press “pause” while I was reading it, like a choose-your-own-adventure story, so Ravi wouldn’t take it as far as he did. The story will probably always stick with me, especially the chilling too-little-too-late texts he sent right after Clementi jumped.

    Today, I’ve been reading this New York Times discussion about whether unpaid internships are fair. The Times seems to do this story at least once a year, but it’s still interesting to see the range of opinions on the topic (e.g. “Let’s Abolish This Modern-Day Coal Mine”).

  8. I have to agree with chrisroll13, I really didn’t read much, but I did people watch. When I read “Wonder Dog” it made me think of this woman who passed me with her seeing eye dog. The relationship the owner and the helper dog have are never strictly business. They become almost the ultimate best friend. It’s such a heartwarming story. I worried for Iyal as much as I did Tyler. It upsets me how when someone young dies people always give you a sense of how beautiful they were and how it wasn’t their time, etc. If people would just try to help each other instead of clamoring and climbing over each other for their own benefit… let me stop. Ranting is going to do me no good. What I did read this weekend was a lot of random facts (I’m a trivia geek, an endless source of useless information). I will admit that these stories were an easy read, but I still didn’t mind spending time with the stories. They were simple but sent me on a whirlwind of emotion with each paragraph. It gave me inspiration to do something quite interesting with a story on volunteers that I’m working on for (hopefully) this week.

  9. Hannah says:

    Was I the only one who thought “Wonder Dog” started a little slow? Maybe it was just the bleak tone, which was obviously appropriate for Iyal’s condition. After getting into the real bulk of the story, though, I thought it was pretty incredible how that tone shifted from blue to yellow. It was as if I could see the positivity radiating from this dog and his little boy. I guess that I also grew up with a golden retriever and that I’m a complete sentimental mess are things that shouldn’t go unignored in this assessment, but I was really very impressed with the way the reporter was able to weave emotion with fact because when you take the time to read again, you realize just how much information you actually processed while you were distracted with images of frolicking canines. Perhaps distracted isn’t the right word. It’s like the spoonful of sugar to make your medicine go down. (I’m feeling very Julie Andrews this morning.)

    Like Chris, I had a pretty busy weekend at work. Most of it was spent with my nose in one textbook or another, as I tend to neglect those during the week. Friday, I covered the Santorum rally and did a lot of poking around Politico and Reuters trying to ascertain the general feeling toward today’s primary. It wasn’t intensive reading by any means, but the process of going around to several sources to piece together an overarching theme or sentiment was interesting and I think the research had a lot to do with the pride I felt in my finished piece.

  10. scg412 says:

    I believe this was a pretty busy weekend for all with all of the festivities going on around town. However, I did do a little reading over the weekend. I read a pretty insightful article on about Dorial Green-Beckham and his family. It is very in-depth and shows just how truly an amazing story this kid and his family are. I had heard his story was very similar to Michael Oher’s (The Blind Side), but in some ways it is even more amazing. The fact that DGB was pronounced dead before birth shows how rare and special a story-line his is, and how lucky Mizzou is to be part of it. Here is the link to the story:

  11. danburley says:

    A little late to the party, but I checked out Adam Gopnik’s piece this week (below) in The New Yorker. He examines the criminal system in America and puts it in chilling context: the United States prison system population would rank as the second largest city in America.

    The topic seems overdone. We’ve all seen Locked Up! on MSNBC and watched Shawshank Redemption. But Gopnik spells out the claustrophobic solitude in literal terms: “Lock yourself in your bathroom and then imagine you have to stay there for the next ten years, and you will have some sense of the experience.”

    The big takeaway for mewas looking at our modern prison system through a historical lens. We vilify Europeans during the Middle Ages for burning heretics at the stake and shake our heads at backwards psychiatrists lobotomizing patients as recently as the seventies but what’s going on behind the closed doors of maximum-security prisons “…will surely strike our descendants as chillingly sadistic, incomprehensible on the part of people who thought themselves civilized.”

    PS: Killer Chuck Dickens quote in the article just a week before his 200th!

    Read more

  12. This was a truly amazing story. I have to say I wish I was a bit more engaged in the beginning, but WOW when I kept reading. This idea of service dogs has always intrigued me because they are, after all, still animals. Probably for selfish reasons, I was particularly drawn in by the mention of placing service dogs with children on the autism spectrum. You see, my little brother Nick, now 17, has Aspergers Syndrome (a mild form of autism). My whole life, I have watched my little brother throw tantrums, struggle socially, go through continuous therapy, etc., and not once had I ever consider how the companionship of a dog might help him get through the hard days.

    My older brother Chris (now 25) had adopted (against my parents’ wishes) a lab/boxer mix in college. Just this April, Chris had the opportunity to teach in Brazil, and so Guinness (Chris’ dog) moved in with us. Guinness and Nick have truly bonded, and I hadn’t realized how much until reading this article. Nick is not your typical teenager with autism. You would have to sit down and talk to him to recognize that he is a little quirky. His biggest hurdle in life is socially. Nick eats lunch alone every day at school. He has just a couple of friends, if any. Surprisingly, that is okay with Nick, but just recently, he joined a club through his high school that has forced him to socialize. He brought Guinness with him one day to meet up with this group, and boy did he make some friends (specifically a girl he has been crushing on for awhile now)! Like it was said in the article, Guinness is a COOL dog for a cool kid.

    I am just so happy for this family, for Iyal, and for my own brother and family, that we are lucky enough to have such loving animals in our lives today. It isn’t Iyal’s fault that his mother drank alcohol when she shouldn’t have and it isn’t Nick’s fault that he struggles to make friends. I just hope that Iyal and Nick both find companionship with their dogs because for children with disabilities, that is sometimes all it takes.

    I just wish kids were a little nicer these days considering. I really struggled to get through the part about Iyal being bullied. Here is a link to a website that pairs service dogs with children on the autism spectrum. Again, we didn’t go through this program, and honestly hadn’t even considered it, but I think a service dog can truly benefit a child on the autism spectrum:

  13. I just finished reading “The story of a Suicide,” and I am officially so disappointed in immature teenagers who bully other kids. I think there is a less on in all of this: everyone is a journalist to a certain extent, whether they acknowledge this or not. If you put something on the internet, assume EVERYONE can see it. I feel sorry for this generation and generations to come. Bullying has been taken to a whole new level: cyber bullying. This is unfortunately not the only suicide to come of cyber-bullying. The teenage years are some of the hardest in a person’s life, and immaturity can lead to bullying and sometimes even death. It is hard to put all of the blame on one person, but the bottom line is NOTHING GOOD COMES FROM CYBER BULLYING. I don’t know what it will take for children to understand this fully, but I am very worried. It makes me nervous that these young teenagers can put any and every thought that crosses their mind on the internet for anyone on earth to see. Written words last forever, and as journalists, we have a responsibility to truly understand this concept. The written word is a powerful thing to put in the hands of immature teenagers who don’t know any better.

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