New Zealand Service Dogs Help People With Epilepsy
Dogs are so amazing! This article reminds me of a marvelous little dog I met in Scotland. Pixie not only watched out for her guardian who had diabetes; she also watched out for his friend who had epilepsy. So she would like their hands if either one was getting into trouble healthwise. And she taught herself to check for both diabetes and epilepsy! Here's a big barkout to you, Pixie!
Thanks to the NZHerald.co.nz for this article.
Smart dogs tell epileptics when they're going to fit
Saturday September 08, 2007
For most of us, owning a dog is about having a companion and games of fetch. For epileptic Belinda Simpson, however, owning a dog is about much more than walks in the park.
The 34-year-old was diagnosed with epilepsy 11 years ago and now relies on her assist dog, a golden retriever named Bradley, to let her know when she is going to have a seizure.
Yesterday Ms Simpson was at the Armitage Hotel to give a presentation about the assist dogs as part of this week's Epilepsy New Zealand's awareness week.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects 1 to 2 per cent of people in New Zealand. Those affected have recurring and spontaneous seizures. While there are different types of seizures, all are caused by bursts of electrical activity in the brain.
Epilepsy assist dogs are trained to do a variety of things including getting phones, activating medic alert buttons, opening and shutting doors and even taking the laundry out of the washing machine.
In certain case they can also detect seizures. This is the case with Bradley, who can tell when Ms Simpson is going to have a seizure 20 minutes before it happens.
"He will get very agitated, get up and down, start walking around me and lick my hand. Once he does that I'll usually go lie down or find somewhere quiet to go," she said.
Ms Simpson said Bradley had changed her life. She now helps train epilepsy assist dogs in Auckland and wants others with epilepsy to know just how helpful dogs like Bradley can be.
"A lot of people, when they get diagnosed with epilepsy, think it's a death sentence, it has such a negative stigma attached to it. A lot of people become isolated and don't have many friends," she said.
"When I got Bradley it totally opened up my world. I was able to go sailing and skiing again. I was also able to travel."
Ms Simpson said she has about about five seizures a week. They usually last less that a minute but she said it takes her about 20 minutes to fully recover.
"It can be difficult because despite having Bradley they [seizures] are still unpredictable."
She first began training epilepsy assist dogs in the United States in 1999 and is hoping to eventually get dogs trained in Tauranga.