One of my best friends is only three years old. I’ve watched her grow from a small thing that couldn’t even climb up into bed. Rosie, is a Pyrenees and Jack Russel Terrier mix which means she’s a medium sized dog who thinks she’s a puppy. Her favorite place is on the coach with her head on someone’s lap and her feet on the other person.
My husband and I both have epilepsy. We’ve discovered that when one of us is going to have a major seizure, she comes up to us whining and prancing. Rosie is by our side after a seizure laying down by our feet or on the floor within reach. After being through the muscle and head pain of an episode, it’s nice to run my toes or fingers through her fur.
Service dogs can be trained to aid people with epilepsy. Rosie isn’t trained and I wonder if she’s too old now. These animals aren’t trained to detect seizures though families and individuals have reported this behavior, it isn’t proven. Roger Reep, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Physiological Sciences at the University surveyed epileptics in 1998. 31 of the 77 participants owned dogs. He asked how the dogs responded before and after seizures. “three out of the 31 felt that their dogs seemed to know when they were going to have a seizure (10 percent). Another 28 percent said their dogs stayed with them when they had a seizure.” (Epilepsy Foundation) I would like to see more research done on this. Can some dogs detect seizures? Is is a behavior change in their compassion or a difference in their smell? Mike and I learning the warning signs so we can aid each other and sit or lie down before we are affected. Such warnings are disorientation, flashing lights, halos, slurred speech, or vertigo. It’s different from time to time and each person experiences seizures differently. Companion animals that aid epileptics are sometimes called seizure dogs. The Epilepsy Foundation offers more information on how these dogs assist
If we used the definition of a familiar as an animal attuned to their human’s magic ability, Rosie isn’t my familiar. We don’t hang out at the altar or do circles together. I’m not sure if we have a psychic bond through there’s been a couple times I was in the bedroom screaming in my mind and she ran in with her ears perked. Mainly we’re friends.
I’m interested in other people’s stories about their animal companions and service dogs.