One afternoon, Rose and I were shopping in a large department store. Rose was several yards away from me between the clothes racks. I could see the top of her head. I saw her head turn to look at two people and a dog strolling through the aisle in her direction. I knew she had spotted the dog’s service vest. I also knew that she would be interested in watching the dog at work.
The big, shaggy hound was wearing a red triangular vest on its harness. The vest was a sign that the dog was a service dog of some sort. Our family had discussed the possibility of getting a seizure dog several times. Since Rose had no aura before most of her seizures, having a dog that could alert her that a seizure was coming would be a nice warning. Rose could at least get to the floor before falling down.
Rose watched the dog approach. The two adults were deep in conversation. They were paying attention to each other and not the dog. The dog turned and walked away from the two people until it stopped and stood in front of Rose. I watched as my daughter and this dog looked into each others eyes.
Both men were surprised by the dog’s behavior. One of the men pulled on the dog’s retractable leash and gave a command for it to return to the side of the other adult. The dog hesitated to leave Rose, and paused for a few more seconds before rejoining his human companions.
I spoke to the two people. I told them that Rose had epilepsy. Their looks of dismay turned into smiles. This gentle giant of a dog was a seizure dog in training. What they first thought of as bad behavior now took on a different meaning. The dog was a seizure alert dog. It somehow knew that Rose had epilepsy. His name was Mr. Biggles. He was with his trainer and new owner.
I got the name and number of the company that trained the dog. The threesome continued to slowly stroll around the store. Rose and I looked at each other in wonder. “How did he know?” she asked me.
It was my turn to be concerned. My first thought was that maybe he sensed an oncoming seizure, but I told Rose that possibly he could smell the seizure medications in her sweat.
Either way, I had a new hope for Rose. Maybe someday a dog could help to keep her safe.
Seizure Mama speaks to parents:
We have not gotten a seizure dog for Rose during these twenty-four years. We had other dogs while she was growing up, which would have complicated the training of a companion pet. We did seriously consider a seizure dog during the times when her seizures were frequent. A trained seizure dog can be very expensive.
I did talk to a woman from this company about training a dog for Rose. She said that the dog must be trained while the companion person is having seizures. Rose’s seizures had become so infrequent that it would not be possible to train a dog for her. This was a mixed blessing.
Now that Rose is an adult, she may need a service dog just for protection. She goes places by herself. She is very independent. Several weeks ago, Rose had a seizure while away at college. It was at night while she was walking beside a road. A dog could have at least stopped traffic.
I am re-posting this in honor of a friend who is beginning the SERVICE DOG application process. I hope he will be blessed with the perfect dog.