National Guide Dog Month – Seizure Response Dog

***This post was supposed to show up this morning, but since I saved it in drafts last night, it decided to post as another Monday post***

Yesterday, we looked at autism service dogs, so today I thought we’d look at another less common type of service dog, the seizure response dog.

According to Epilepsy Newfoundland And Labrador (2011):

• 300,000 Canadians have epilepsy.
• 1 in 2000 Canadians are diagnosed each year.
• 38 people on average are told they have epilepsy each day.
• 60% of these cases each year, are children or the elderly.

Even though some dogs have been known to detect seizures, it is not a skill which most possess. Therefore, guide dog programs such as The Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides, have taken it upon themselves to train dogs to respond to their client’s physical cues.

Similar to the application process for other service dogs, individuals must first decide whether they have the financial, emotional and physical ability to support a canine assistant. They must then go through a vigorous screening process to make sure they can provide a suitable environment for the dog to thrive, and to make sure they truly understand what skills a seizure response dog can perform.

Some of the skills which these special canines can be trained to do are:

• to stay beside their client during a seizure;
• bark for attention;
• fetch medications;
• get the telephone, or
• alert a caretaker.

In this article, you can read about how the media has created some unfortunate expectations surrounding the job of a seizure response dog.

Even though there are some limitations regarding the job of a seizure response dog, these special canines continue to bring happiness into the lives of their clients through providing them with a sense of safety and independence they did not formerly possess. This link will take you to the stories of four seizure response teams which were sponsored by a private registered charity called Care-Alive.

Please join me tomorrow, when I discuss another guide dog related subject.

If there is anything in particular you might want me to examine, please leave a comment.

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