You've probably seen service dogs out in public; helping the blind navigate the streets, assisting veterans with rehabilitation, or alerting those with hearing impairments, but did you know that there are trained seizure response dogs?
We didn't until a couple of years ago when another Aicardi family told us about theirs. We knew that it could be an option with Piper.
How will a seizure assistance dog help?
These dogs are trained to respond to seizures by alerting someone that a seizure is occurring, getting rescue medicine, getting a phone, and comforting the patient after the seizure is over. In many instances, these dogs are able to sense and alert the patient before the seizure even begins!
We don't expect the dog to be able to sense seizures before they occur. What we do hope for is a companion for Piper. Our biggest fear with Piper is Sudden Death from Epilepsy (SUDEP). Piper often has seizures in the middle of the night, and while we have a monitor, they are often missed. With a seizure response dog, the dog would be able to alert us when these times occur. We also hope that he would be there to comfort Piper after the seizure is over.
Who trains the dog?
We have been searching for a dog trainer since we first heard about their exisitence, but it has not been easy.
Piper is not able to talk, and thus is not able to give commands. There are not many agencies that train service dogs for the purpose of seizure response, let alone an agency that will train the dog to see the parent as the handler and the child as who he should serve. The first 3 agencies we found would not work with us due to her age. The next 2 required a two week training at their facility in Ohio or Tennessee. This presented a problem since we cannot travel with Piper's medicine.
Then we found Noelle's Dogs Four Hope (http://www.noellesdogsfourhope.com). NDFH is an non-profit organization in Monument, CO (20 minutes from us) focused on seizure response dogs for children!
How do they train?
NDFH is unique in that they place the dog in the home as a puppy. The idea is to integrate the dog with the patient and family early on and allow the family to do the training up until 18 months - 2 years. At that time, the dog will go through more intense training and certification. With this approach, they have had a better success rate with dogs alerting before the onset of a seizure.
How much does it cost?
The total cost is $8550. We are hoping to raise half of this cost and pay the rest.
When will you get the dog?
After we have paid the $500 deposit, they will begin looking for a puppy.