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K9 Scent Training: A Manual for Training Your Identification, Tracking and Detection Dog (K9 Professional Training Series)
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Epilepsy/Seizure Working Dogs
A look at how service dogs are trained to help people with seizures, and what exactly these dogs can do.
My friend's dog, Homer, was able to let her know when she was about to seize, giving her minutes warning to get low to the ground. He would simply bark to alarm her, and would proceed to jump up on her until she was safely on the ground. He then would sit by her and guard her while she seized. His protecting her was important for they lived in a big city, where anyone could take advantage of her unconscious state. He acted as the working dog until he became so protective of her, that he would not allow emergency personnel near her when she needed help. My friend reluctantly retired Homer as a working dog, and he is enjoying just being a dog now.
I have met and spoken to two other people about their seizure alert dogs at the casino where I work. One patron has a Blue Heeler as her working dog, and stated that he also barks to alert her of upcoming seizures. The other patron has a Toy Poodle, and also is alarmed by her dog before she seizes. I have never seen these dogs in action, but they seem to be a crucial accessory for these epileptics.
According to The Epilepsy Foundation, interest in seizure dogs arose in the 1980's during a Washington State Prison dog project. An epileptic woman participating in the program, noticed one of the dogs seem to be able to tell when she was about to have a seizure. The media heard about this, thus the term "Seizure Dog" was developed. Since then, dogs have been trained as any service dog to help and aid their owners during seizures. The question of whether or not dogs can actually predict seizures is an ongoing issue.
Seizure Dogs seem to work mostly to let a mother know her child is seizing, or sitting by their owner in order to protect them during seizure activity. A few are reported to actually be able to predict seizures, and owners of those that do, say it is developed over time. Perhaps dogs over time, can learn the symptoms of upcoming seizure events. There are a lot of skeptics out there that say dogs do not have the ability to predict seizures. But, just ask those that have one, and they will most likely disagree with this fact. The dogs bring a sense of security to their owners and this is important in dealing with epilepsy.
It seems no breed is better than the other for becoming seizure dogs. I have seen a wide variey of breeds, and they all seem to be masters at what they do. There are numerous organizations claiming to train seizure dogs, but be careful of scams. Some people spend thousands of dollars and are disappointed in their dogs. More information can be found at www.epilepsyfoundation.org.
In conclusion, seizure alert dogs seem to provide their owners with security and a better sense of being. Some dogs are able to predict upcoming seizure events and alarm their owners, as was the case with my friend's dog Homer. I would also like to add that when my friend and I both went out together, Homer seemed nervous. He would constantly look at me and then my friend. He appeared to sense that I too was epileptic, and his actions conveyed this. If you are interested in obtaining more information on seizure dogs, I would suggest contacting the above website.