Not long after being certified as a team in 2010, Terri and Seizure Assist Dog Brody practically became local celebrities. Terri has a Vagus Nerve Stimulator (VNS), similar to a pacemaker, implanted in her chest that Brody was trained to trigger by pressing a magnet on his collar to Terri’s chest when she’s lying on the ground. Doing so can stop the seizure. At the time, they were the first team known in the world to do this, earning them media attention.
For Terri, who has regular seizures, due to being involved in an explosion while working as a police officer a few decades ago, Brody was a life-saver. “I thought he should live forever,” says Terri.
Unfortunately, that’s not how life works. Brody passed away in 2020, and not only did Terri have difficulty accepting it, but states, “When Brody left, so did me knowing about my seizures happening ahead of time, so I was injured more than normal.” She explains, “I fall a lot. I don’t have any warning in my seizures. So I wake up after, and I’ve taken down my stairs and the spindles quite a few times.” She also relays an experience of a stove fire, because her mind sometimes isn’t clear after seizure episodes, and she wasn’t able to pay attention to something she had been cooking.
Obviously, Terri needed a successor dog for Brody and says of her expectation for the result, “I was just hoping for lightning to strike twice.” She adds, “I have a lot of confidence in Can Do [Canines], I really do,” so soon Terri was meeting her next teammate, another black Labrador Retriever–this one named Peaches. “She stuck her head in the door,” says Terri, “and all she had to do was look at me and I’m done. I’m like, you’re mine.”
The spark from Peaches’ beautiful eyes lit up Terri’s world. Peaches does more than just look at Terri in order to make magic happen, though. She, like Brody, is able to activate a newer model VNS in Terri to help with the seizures, keeping Terri safe and significantly less fatigued.
Peaches has also brought some renewed energy to Terri’s house, with Terri depicting how this younger dog runs from the kitchen “but doesn’t quite make the left turn and slams into the couch.” Entertaining and funny, but still a quick learner and very calming, Peaches is a “breath of fresh air” for Terri, who is now able to get out and interact with others again.
Much of that socializing happens with fellow Can Do Canines graduates with a group of about five others who are dubbed the “Grad Pack.” Together these people and their dogs meet to walk in a local mall, take part in fundraising events and participate in virtual get-togethers. Peaches is now officially part of the pack, and Terri couldn’t be happier with the renewed sense of independence. “I can’t even really explain it in words. Just knowing that she’s there and she has my six. I’m cool with it.”
Something else Terri is cool with? The Can Do Canines dog-training process and everyone who is involved with it. “There is no amount of thanking volunteers, puppy raisers, breeder hosts, trainers,” she says. “Everything is like a gear, and it goes round and round and round with no bumps.”
Despite the bump in the road of having to say good-bye to one beloved service dog, Terri’s wish of lightning striking twice might have been fulfilled. Speaking of her new best friend, Peaches, she says, “I love her to death, and I think it’s a mutual feeling.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Great Start Home: Carol Johnson
Puppy Raiser: Federal Correctional Institution-Sandstone
Special Thanks: Kolleen Herr, Julie Sandvick
You: Thank you for your donations!