When Mack Brown suffered a knee injury, Augie Garrido came in as a replacement and has since remained a full member of the team here at Dell's headquarters.
If you're a fan of The University of Texas football or baseball teams, that sentence would seem rather odd. How are those two college coaches part of the Dell team? When their names are shared by two trained assistance dogs!
Dale Duty grew up playing sports himself, but at age 25, he was diagnosed with a condition called Ankylosing spondylitis, a hereditary inflammatory disease that has caused two of the vertebrae in his neck to fuse together. There is no cure for the condition, and as a result, Dale is greatly limited in the mobility of his head.
“When I walk, I can’t see above my head,” Dale said. “I have a sight-assistance dog that is trained to assist me by keeping me from hitting my head on things which might hang low, below my sightline.”
As a senior patent paralegal, the chair of Dell’s Patent Committee and part of a team that helps to maintain the Dell Patent Database, Duty has been a fixture in Dell’s legal department for more than 15 years. But for several years, he hasn’t been alone in his cubicle.
That’s where a 65-pound, full-blood boxer named “Coach,” in honor of the University of Texas’ head baseball coach Augie Garrido, comes into the story. Coach’s brother, known as “Mack Brown,” was Duty’s first service dog, but when he suffered a knee injury, Coach subbed in and has been a member of the Round Rock headquarters team since.
Although a handful of other service dogs have come through Dell, Coach made company history when he became the first service dog to have his own badge.
“A new security guard saw a dog enter the building on the monitors and sent another guard to investigate,” Duty said. “When I told the story to a Dell engineer friend at lunch, he suggested we get Coach a badge. His badge number is the same as mine, because he always has to be with me.”
And while Coach can’t “badge in” because his badge isn’t fully functional, he does have fans wherever he goes. His biggest fan, though is Duty. Coach accompanies Duty to meetings with inventors and engineers developing Dell’s latest technology.
His presence has allowed Duty to get the most out of his career, which is in line with the mission of Dell’s True Ability Employee Resource Group. True Ability is a group of Dell team members who have come together to educate, drive awareness, and serve as a resource for team members impacted by disabilities or special needs, both inside and outside of Dell.
“Our goal in True Ability is to harness the power of Dell to enable our team members impacted by disabilities to grow and thrive, and we welcome all Dell team members who believe in our mission to join us and make our impact even stronger,” said Suresh Vaswani, President, Services, and the executive sponsor of True Ability.
“According to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), companies don't have to allow service dogs. They are only required to make a reasonable accommodation for disabled people," Duty notes “I feel very fortunate that Dell has allowed Coach to accompany me at work. I’m more comfortable and productive when he’s with me. Coach makes me a better employee.”