Katie is an active young lady who has been living with constant seizures for over nine years since she was diagnosed with epilepsy. Some of her seizures look like she’s in a brief trance, but others cause her to become immobilized other than involuntary muscle spasms.
Katie has many tools that help her cope with seizures enough for her to live independently, but she still lives with the debilitating condition and has been seeking any sources of relief available. She has medications, personal connections and instructions with the local Emergency First Responders, as well as a special device. The device acts very much like a pacemaker, except it sends electrical impulses to the vagus nerve instead of the heart to reduce the frequency of her seizures. She researched and struggled to find support for an assistance dog until Can Do Canines welcomed and partnered her with a furry miracle named Valerie.
Valerie is an adorable 2-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever, and she is happy to do anything that means more love and cuddles with her person. Valerie shows off her snuggling skills as she lays in a certain position that suppresses Katie’s movements during a seizure to help keep her from injuring herself. Valerie will also get Katie her medications, retrieve items, and open the front door and fridge. Recently, Katie dropped her backpack that also contained her phone. Before Valerie, Katie would have left it behind to avoid falling when reaching for it, but now, Valerie was able to retrieve it for her safely.
Since living with Valerie, Katie and her family have been thrilled that Katie has fewer falls, fewer hospital stays, and fewer visits from police or paramedics because she is able to better manage her seizures. If a seizure does happen, Valerie is able to signal to others that her person needs help, and she’s there to get the job done.
Trading Crowds for a Canine Assistant
Katie says she was limited to staying in her apartment or only going out with people whom she trusted to care for her in case of a seizure. Now, “We don’t stay home too often. I am more comfortable going to places where there’s not people all the time, like the park just to walk.”
Katie used to be afraid of having seizures in public, knowing if she was unconscious, anything could happen, but Valerie is able to bring her awareness back sooner and show others that they are both managing Katie’s disability. To those who helped make Valerie possible, Katie says, “Thank you! I’ve been through a lot trying to get a service dog for the past few years, and I didn’t think it was going to happen. You made it possible.” Katie is excited at the potential to go on more trips and explore more freedom, “[Valerie] is just amazing. I think it was meant to be.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Whelping Home: Karin Belgaard
Great Start Home: Jennifer Schroeder
Puppy Raiser: Federal Correctional Institution Sandstone
Special Thanks To: Casey O’Connell, FETCH
You: Thank you for your donations!