Thanks to Kentucky.com for this news.
Family hopes service dog will help boy with rare form of epilepsy
The Associated Press
HENDERSON, Ky. –It’s a good thing 7-year-old Alex Harpole likes company.
The western Kentucky boy has a rare form of epilepsy and can’t be left alone. He is among less than 100 people in the United States and 500 in the world who have been diagnosed with Dravet’s Syndrome, The (Henderson) Gleaner reported.
The boy who smiles most of the time and seldom lets on that his life is radically different from that of his peers must be with someone at all times because there’s no way of knowing when he’ll have a seizure.
Some days he has two or three, but there have been days when he’s had a seizure every 30 to 60 minutes for a straight 12-hour period. They range from mere eye flutters or wandering around the room in a fixed pattern to major episodes with convulsions and loss of consciousness.
“There’s no warning,” says his mom, Carrie Harpole. That’s why Alex wears a closely fitting safety helmet to protect his head during sudden falls.
But there’s some hope that promises to help Alex and his family, which includes siblings Aiden, 5, and Ava, 1.
The Harpoles have applied for a special service dog through an Ohio-based program called 4 Paws for Ability, and the dog will be trained specifically to meet Alex’s needs. The canine, possibly a German shepherd, golden retriever or Lab, will be with him 24 hours a day and bark loudly to alert family or school staff if Alex is undergoing a seizure.
That means, Carrie said, that Alex “can have more independence” and live a more normal life. That is what Paul, a Koorsen Fire and Security employee, and Carrie want for him.
Carrie said the dog may eventually be able to tell when Alex is about to have a seizure and sound a warning. There are chemical changes prior to a seizure, she said, and some dogs are sensitive to them.
Training and placing the dogs is expensive, and the nonprofit 4 Paws is charging $9,800, which must be raised before Alex and his parents can undergo a training program in Xenia, Ohio.
Several fundraisers in the community have been set to help the family.
Since having his first seizure at only 7 months of age, Alex has had a number of medical descriptions for his epilepsy. Dravet’s was diagnosed just last month at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.