Little Angels is offering a series of 2-day and 1-day seminars, which are designed for those
who wish to train their own service dog, or to train a dog for a friend or family member.
SEMINAR DATES AND LOCATIONS WILL BE LISTED
AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE
Certification is granted to the handler/dog teams who attend all 3 seminars, over a period of
6 months or longer, and successfully pass the written test and field test demonstrating their
ability to work safely in a public setting, with the dog mitigating the disabilities of the
Participants should wait at least 2 months between each seminar to allow adequate time to
work with their dog on the material covered. Seminars are designed to instruct with a variety
of learning methods to best assist each participant. Seminars include lecture, video,
demonstration, reading, testing, small groups, open discussion, hands-on practice, and
Little Angels Service Dogs is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. Seminars have an associated
fee, which covers costs associated with the rental of the meeting spaces and hotels, and
travel and lodging of trainers and speakers. The individual travel and lodging expenses are
the responsibility of each participant/family. Additional family members may attend at a
Applicants have a right to be considered regardless of sex, race, religion or creed.
Two years ago, at the age of 36, I was diagnosed with Epilepsy. My first reaction was
anger. Extreme anger. As a working mother of two, married to a cop, I didn’t have time for
this! My seizures-both simple-partial and tonic clonic- occur mainly in the late evening or
at night; not at all convenient with my husband working Law Enforcement shifts! Lights-
and-sirens trips to the ER in an ambulance became common. My life—and worse, the
life of my family,-- went into a tailspin.
My seizures meant I couldn’t be left alone after 3 in the afternoon. I couldn’t drive. My
children were always worried I would ‘drop’. Although I continued my job of teaching
Advanced Placement high school classes, I taught under the constant fear that a seizure
would interrupt the day’s lesson. And, as a strong and independent woman, I suddenly felt
crippled. I couldn’t go on the long distance runs I so love. I couldn’t even take an
unsupervised bath! (That last one really stung; a bath—with the whole works of candles
and bubbles and soft music is my go-to Mommy relaxation method. Having my husband
‘supervise’ me pretty much ruined the entire vibe.) The lack of independence chafed and
the amount of wife-and-mommy-guilt was suffocating.
We moved closer into town so that friends and family could help. My amazing husband
left his job as a cop and took a financial advisor position that allows him to be home at
night. My wonderful doctors at the Stanford Epilepsy Clinic prescribed medication that
reduced the frequency and severity of my seizures. My daughters learned how to
recognize a seizure and whom to call. I changed my diet, gave up baths and took up
yoga. In short, we ‘worked the problem’.
But, like so many people living with Epilepsy, I wanted more. I wanted the independence
to live my life without the fear of a seizure clouding every moment. More importantly, I
wanted to just be a wife, a mother, and a teacher without everyone constantly worrying
about my health. My research led me to seizure-alert dogs, which led me to Little Angels
Service Dogs. Here was the answer to all of our prayers! After communicating with Little
Angels, my husband and I decided to take the self-training seminars. Although we were a
bit nervous (I’ve had dogs all my life, but never trained any of them to do much more than
sit and not chew on my shoes), we felt confident after seminar 1 that, with Little Angels’
support, we could do this!
We began our search by contacting all of the local shelters and explaining what we were
looking for. After two weeks, the Humane Society called: they had an 18 month old
chocolate lab whom they thought would be perfect. Our whole family—my husband, our
two daughters, and our feisty miniature schnauzer, went to the shelter. Two hours later, we
brought Dante—a gorgeous chocolate lab who temperament tested very well—home. We
began training immediately, following the Little Angel’s Training Guide.
It was surprisingly easy. It takes a lot of time, discipline, patience, and a healthy sense of
humor to train him and keep him trained. I emailed A LOT of questions to Little Angels,
joined a local doggy obedience group, and worked with the local K9 cops. Primarily, I
was the one who had to be trained as a handler! Once I understood MY job, Dante pretty
much breathed a big doggy sigh of ‘finally’ and settled right into his new life as my
Now, 6 months later, Dante is my full service dog. He accompanies us to all of our
activities, which means he attends lots of gymnastics meets, dance competitions, and
family get-togethers. More importantly, he watches over me when my husband isn’t there
to ‘alert’ me to my early seizure activity. He performs his full sequence of tasks: pawing at
me to alert me to a seizure about 10-15 minutes before the seizure occurs. He then
“braces” so that I can get down to the floor (vital for those of us with tonic-clonic seizures as
falls are extremely dangerous). Finally, he brings me my emergency pack with my
medication and a pre-paid cell phone to call my husband. Then Dante lays on my lap to
apply deep pressure therapy. And he does all of this consistently. Although he weighs in
at a solid 95 pounds, Dante truly is my “Little Angel”.
I am so thankful for Little Angels Service Dogs! Our lives have returned to ‘normal’; a
new, improved, wonderful normal! While the seizure activity remains, the constant fear
and worry of an impending seizure is gone. I can do all of the things with my family and
job that I love; I’m free to be the wife, mother, teacher, and friend whom I want to be! And, I
have my independence back. Yesterday, Dante and I went for a five mile run. Alone.
And then I took a bath. A long, glorious, candle scented, kid-and-husband-free bath while
Dante kept watch on the floor by the tub. Heaven.
Katharine and Dante
At the age of 15 I suffered a traumatic brain injury on my 3rd day of high school playing in
a volleyball match. Due to this brain injury I have developed seizures, migraines, anxiety,
PTSD, crowd phobia and depression. The summer prior to my accident I had trained my
black lab pet as a therapy dog to visit in hospitals and schools in my community. When I
began having seizures she naturally began alerting me and my parents to an upcoming
seizure although at first we didn't realize this is what she was doing. As my seizures
became increasingly more frequent I was scared to go anywhere for fear of having a
seizure and not being aware. Abby transitioned into my service dog after a little more
public access training and started attending school with me - she was the first service dog
at my high school and provided great comfort, bracing and a barrier in the crowded halls
and even alerting teachers of a pending seizure if I didn't respond to her alert
immediately. As I began to think about college I knew that Abby would need to retire and I
would need a new service dog due to her age.
I found Little Angels when looking online for seizure response dogs. After much research
I decided their program was the best one on the west coast if not the entire US and I
requested an application. After completing the application and having lengthy
conversations with Katie, my family and I decided that the Little Angels Seminars and
Self Training Program would be the best fit for us. I live in Washington State, but we were
willing to travel to San Diego to ensure the success and support in training a new medical
alert service dog. Since day one Katie and the Little Angels staff have been extremely
helpful and a great resource for all of my questions! At the first seminar we learned in
detail about service dogs, how to pick a dog, how to determine what task a SD could help
me with, basic obedience, potty training and much more. Even though I had a service
dog, she was a pet first so there was so much I didn't know about selecting a dog,
temperament testing, etc.
After leaving seminar one the hunt for the 'perfect' dog began. My family and I really
wanted to rescue a dog from a shelter but after having no luck for three months we
purchased a hypoallergenic 9 month old Australian Labradoodle from a breeder in
Oregon. My mom thought a non-shedding dog would be the best in a college
environment. I had contacted many breeders in three states asking if they had an older
dog that would be available for service work. This breeder kept my information and when
she decided she did not want to keep this dog for breeding because his hips weren't
excellent (only good) she gave me a call as she thought he had a good temperament for
service dog work. Bringing home a puppy was anything but easy! For weeks Blazer peed
every time he got excited, he chewed a lot of things, dug up plants in the yard, and was
just full on puppy! Blazer and I began obedience classes at the beginning of November
and by the end of the month he had passed his Canine Good Citizens test. Blazer was a
fast learner and picked up on new tasks easily. During Little Angels seminar two I learned
all about task training with Blazer in tow. Katie, Kellen, and Dana were very helpful with
suggesting new ways of training and tips and tricks to keep Blazer interested. Blazer
began attending high school everyday with me after completing seminar two as a "service
dog in training". Abby transitioned back to a therapy dog at my high school and began
working in special needs classes. Each day I came and went with both dogs! It took
Blazer about a week to adjust and figure everything out at school but now he is a pro.
During our third trip to Little Angels he and I passed our certification test and he now goes
everywhere with me. Blazer now knows how to alert to my seizures, dial an assistance dog
phone, preform deep pressure therapy, brace, retrieve his vest (which contains an
emergency phone), and most of all brings me the confidence I need to be independent.
Most people believe dogs can't be trained to alert to a seizure, Little Angels not only
believes, but teaches the technique. My seizures are mostly controlled by medication,
but when I do have them, Blazer has alerted every time. The confidence I have to leave
the security of home and go to college with Blazer gives new meaning to the word
independence. He is truly my “little angel”!
Grace Meno and Blazer
Many would like to receive private instruction to assist with the training of their own service dog, as opposed to
receiving group instruction through our seminars, or by receiving a dog already completely trained for them.
Unfortunately, there are many private trainers who take advantage of the fact that there is a high monetary value
attached to service dogs, and the fact that many are desperate to receive the help they can offer. Many people are
hindered by dogs who are not fully trained, and by those trainers who charge exorbitant fees, preying on those who
would pay anything to help a sick family member or those who so desperately need the assistance. Before hiring a
private trainer complete a background check, or seek referral from an accredited organization you trust, and always
be sure to ask for a written contract regarding your training arrangements with the private trainer. Little Angels
Service Dogs does not offer private lessons or instruction, however, we can refer you to private trainers in the San
Diego area who are familiar with the training of service dogs and have similar standards to that of our organization.
The following trainer assists through private lessons or boarding school.