Our daughter Natalie quickly lost her independence the day she was diagnosed with intractable epilepsy. She was 17. As the days passed and her seizure frequency increased, more and more of her independence was taken from her. Honestly, so was mine as this disability my daughter was now living with drastically changed her everyday life. It was a difficult day when she had to give up her drivers license and quit her job and put some future plans on hold. But the side others didn’t see was she could no longer be left alone. Her unpredictable, multiple daily seizures became a thief. She no longer slept alone. If she wanted to cook, I sat there and watched her in case she slipped into a seizure. I sat in the restroom while she showered. She could no longer roam a store to shop independently…nor could I. Where she went I went. Where I went she went.
But then. Then she got the call from Little Angels Service Dogs that they had a perfect match for her. His name is Dexter. Dexter is a handsome English Cream Labrador Retriever trained to alert Natalie in advance to her seizures, dial a dog phone, retrieve a medicine pouch, provide deep pressure therapy and mobility assistance when needed. When Natalie got Dexter home her independence increased daily and so did mine. I sat at the table as I usually did as she began to cook. But this time I watched something wonderful happen. Dexter alerted Natalie that she was going to have a seizure. He pawed her. Natalie turned off the burner and sat on the floor as Dexter dialed the dog phone and retrieved the medicine pouch. Sure enough Natalie had a seizure a few minutes later with Dexter by her side. Dexter also alerts Natalie in advance to a seizure even if she is showering. The first time it startled her to see him staring at her around the shower curtain. She got out of the shower, sat down and had a seizure a few minutes later. I no longer have to be in there. Natalie is now able to spend time on her own with Dexter. If I am outside I know that Dexter will call my phone if Natalie is going to have a seizure. If she is out in public she can be more independent knowing Dexter will alert her and she has time to find a safe place to sit down. Dexter has alerted Natalie in advance to her seizures during the night as well. Because who wants to slumber party with their mom every night at age 22? He has brought many smiles to some very tough days. We are extremely blessed to have this Little Angels Service Dog, Dexter, on our journey with us.