Epilepsy Talk

Seizure Alert Dogs | May 25, 2010

I recently met a mother and daughter team who participate in a wonderful organization called Canine Partners for Lifehttp://www.k94life.org/html/seizure_alert.htm

The daughter has intractable epilepsy and has an uncountable number of seizures per day.  (She also volunteers for the EFA.)

This is an exerpt from their brochure: “Seizure alert dogs are able to predict seizure activity anywhere from several minutes to an hour before the seizure occurs. This is a natural instinct, or ability, which some dogs are particularly inclined to act upon and it is CPL’s job to select those dogs in our service dog program who demonstrate this characteristic.

The actual ability to detect is not trained by our staff, but is instead positively reinforced when we see the dog exhibiting behaviors indicating their awareness of upcoming seizure activity. We are unsure how these dogs know that a seizure is approaching. Most likely, through its sense of smell, the dog is detecting the chemical and electrical changes within a person’s body caused by seizure activity.

The dogs are permitted to alert in the manner most comfortable to them as long as it is safe for everyone involved. Often, a dog will nudge/bump/paw its partner, or give a small whine. If the person is walking, the dog will interfere with the person’s movement, blocking their path and causing them to stop. These dogs are very reliable and consistent in their work. Their alerts are typically the same amount of time prior to each seizure which gives a sense of control and management to the human partner.

The primary benefit to the recipient is that the human partners are able to manage their activity around the time of a seizure. If their dog typically alerts 30 minutes prior, this gives them time to get to a safe place, stop unsafe activities, or notify someone that the seizure is about to occur. This makes life safer, more predictable, and much more independent!

Examples:

  • The seizure alert dog alerts, and its partner leaves the swimming
    pool which would be an unsafe environment in which to have a seizure.
  • A seizure alert dog alerts, and its partner, who is an auto mechanic, turns off his tools and goes to lay quietly on a mat.
  • A seizure alert dog alerts and its partner calls her husband or medical personnel. They know that if they do not hear from the human partner within a certain amount of time they need to provide assistance.

Not all people who have seizures are good candidates for a seizure alert dog. A recipient must have several seizures per month and must have the cognitive ability to learn dog training theory, and to recognize and respond to an alert.

In addition to providing the alerts to an impending seizure, seizure alert dogs also provide balance and stability to their partners following the seizure, can retrieve the telephone or operate a medic line, and assist with any other tasks needed.”


44 Comments »

  1. That is great! My dog looks at me and barks at me. I initially was thinking that he needed a walk. He keeps barking and I keep thinking he needs something. At times I have had a seizure or I am really sleepy and sleeps. I think at times it is coincidental

    Like

    Comment by Tonialpha — May 25, 2010 @ 7:52 AM

    • Tonialphia, Maybe your dog has an innate sense that you can bring out by training him and rewarding him. (When you’re conscious, of course!) 😉

      Like

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 25, 2010 @ 7:26 PM

  2. Canine Partners for Life is Great! If you really need assistance or reassurance this would be great. Sometimes I need both, my own dog makes me relax! These dogs can use the phone and other things!

    Like

    Comment by Tonialpha — May 25, 2010 @ 8:18 AM

    • Amazing isn’t it? So are the mother and daughter who run this organization.

      The daughter is severely disabled by epilepsy and when she’s about to have a seizure, the dog just takes over and leads her to a safe, quiet place.

      She volunteered at our local epilepsy summer camp and she would appear and disappear. She’s so brave…and commited. And the dog is awesome!

      Like

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 25, 2010 @ 7:30 PM

  3. a question about seizure alert dog providers. I know you wont be able to predict what to see if I answer will be by them, but this im conserned about. I had applied for a service dog, I have many seizures a day, every day. They emailed me, to ask me if I were still interested, after 6+ yrs wait. They did an in home review, and talked with me some.

    I by chance told them that my parents wont like dog hair in car or house. They wont even let my shi tzu in the house. This is the fact that could cause me to not get the service dog.

    What do you think the educated guess would be if I were to qualify. I waited already waited two mo. for their response. My dr said it may take up to 1 yr for the reply.

    Like

    Comment by jennifer — August 11, 2012 @ 10:28 AM

  4. Well Jennifer, to be honest, saying your parents wouldn’t like the dog hair was TMI. It’s something that would have been better left unsaid.

    But, we’ll see.

    Also, haven’t you applied to more than one agency?

    Like Canine Assistants http://www.canineassistants.org/about/our-dogs.html

    And Canine Partners for Life http://www.k94life.org/html/seizure_alert.htm

    Like

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 11, 2012 @ 11:27 AM

    • Welll, it was just slipped out of my mouth. There are other places to apply for a service dog, but all out of town.

      There is a dog trainer, where there is no waiting list, but the travel is two hrs to and from. It would be great to get up some sort of transportation to and from this trainer. Maybe I should put an add, needing transportation, or funds needed to stay out of town in order to receive the dog.

      It cant hurt to. Ill apply anyway to other programs.

      Any suggestions in order to raise funds?

      I would not be able to afford the cost of 2-3 weeks stay out of town, to receive training how to use the dog.

      Any other suggestions,

      Like

      Comment by jennifer — August 11, 2012 @ 11:51 AM

    • TMI ?

      Like

      Comment by jennifer — August 11, 2012 @ 1:05 PM

  5. You could probably talk to your local Epilepsy Foundation about fund-raising ideas…

    Like

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 11, 2012 @ 12:23 PM

  6. Hi Phylis, Im now going to apply for a service dog from out of state. Maybe there will be someone that will sponsor the trip and service dog for me.

    Like

    Comment by jennifer — August 20, 2012 @ 10:30 AM

  7. I had emailed K94life, and canine assistance. They will put me an application in the mail today.

    Like

    Comment by jennifer — August 20, 2012 @ 2:20 PM

  8. Im in the proccess of filling out the application to the canine partners for life, and the canine assistants. I had emailed one of them and asked them if they had any applicants had sponsors for the whole trip including the dog. They said yes. So, now im not too concerned about not being able to afford the trip out of state. Im sure that 1 out of the 3 places im applying to, will accept me.

    Like

    Comment by jennifer — August 29, 2012 @ 11:03 AM

  9. Fingers, eyes and toes crossed! 😉

    Like

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 29, 2012 @ 5:08 PM

    • phylis, im going to apply to others, but they are out of state.. There are some that charge an application fee. Should I apply to those too?

      Like

      Comment by jennifer — September 11, 2012 @ 5:00 PM

  10. K-9 RESCUE ALARM

    DESIGNED TO BE USED BY ASSISTANCE DOGS

    The Model 3000 is specifically designed to be operated by personal assistance dogs. We have tried to simulate most conditions of abuse and handling in order to assure, to the best of our ability, that the desired number will be dialed when the phone is activated by the dog.

    http://www.ablephone.com/model3000.php

    Like

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 5, 2012 @ 4:05 PM

    • My application was denied. Let me ask, would you write all that I do? Like that I volunteer 2 x wk, go shopping 1 day, and take music lesson, and play at pastry shop 1x mo? And please dont tell me that I said too much, I know that already. Now I need advice.

      Like

      Comment by jennifer — September 10, 2012 @ 12:09 PM

  11. I would say to ASK them why it was denied. At least this will give you a better idea.

    I’m so very sorry, Jennifer. 😦

    Like

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 10, 2012 @ 1:53 PM

    • They just say, that they could not meet my needs.

      Like

      Comment by jennifer — September 10, 2012 @ 1:55 PM

  12. I think it depends upon how much. Also, try to sound a little more “needy!” You’re too accomplished. 😉

    Like

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 11, 2012 @ 5:10 PM

    • most of the time it is 25-26, there has been one that asks for 50. I will not go for that one.

      Well, how do I sound needy if the heat/cold affect triggers, or that me having mild generalized anxiety, Yes it triggers it too. The dog will help ease some of the stress, and hopefully reduce the anxiety that are triggers. The dog will bring the phone in emergencies, when I fall due to my atonic seizures.

      Sounds good, right.

      Like

      Comment by jennifer — September 11, 2012 @ 5:19 PM

  13. I did try an anxiety meds, but that didnt help either. My body just doesnt handle stress very well.

    Like

    Comment by jennifer — September 11, 2012 @ 5:21 PM

    • I’d say the $25 is a bargain.

      But you don’t sound “needy” enough.

      Document your seizure INJURIES…how often they happen and detail what they are as you’ve told us.

      Lots of people are probably “standing in line” ahead of you. You’ve got to let them know that you have a very serious seizure condition that is harmful to your health on a regular basis and you can’t mange on your own…

      Like

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 11, 2012 @ 7:54 PM

  14. I maybe assume people know how difficult having daily seizures is. The dangers that they can cause. Its an everyday occurance. I figure they know what atonic or complex seizures can cause. Maybe they dont.

    Like

    Comment by jennifer — September 11, 2012 @ 9:27 PM

  15. They DO know. But you have to spell out how it affects YOU and the toll it takes on your every day. Not to mention the injuries (helmet, etc.)

    Like

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 11, 2012 @ 11:42 PM

  16. Iguess thats why i was denied.

    Like

    Comment by jennifer — September 12, 2012 @ 7:58 AM

  17. But you’ll keep that in mind for the subsequent applications. So not all is lost.

    Like

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 12, 2012 @ 8:28 AM

    • yes, There arent but 4 more possible places. I havent got but 1 application, the others will send me one.

      Like

      Comment by jennifer — September 12, 2012 @ 8:37 AM

      • Well, four is better than none. Have you called for the applications?

        Like

        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 12, 2012 @ 10:32 AM

      • Yes, I have. They are all out of state, though. How am I going to tell my mother about this. She doesnt like dog hair, in the house or car.

        Like

        Comment by jennifer — September 13, 2012 @ 5:38 PM

  18. have you heard of successful service dog teams, doing the 2-3 week team training, v.s. training where I live and in my home? I think training here would be more successful, for me.

    There are so many training groups, its hard to sort through all of them.

    I guess I will try one at the time, starting with the Canine Assistance.

    Like

    Comment by jennifer — October 3, 2012 @ 11:38 AM

  19. I think that’s a good idea. Then, perhaps you could Google “training” in your area…

    Like

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 3, 2012 @ 12:09 PM

    • I did look, the closest is in charlote. I dont know if they train in my area. Ill check.

      Like

      Comment by jennifer — October 3, 2012 @ 2:02 PM

  20. I have been talking to my sister about a posible service dog. I know if taking a big dog everywhere I Not everyone will be wanting a dog in their car. This will be a whole life makeover., I am scared for this change. I am tired for having totake rides from my parents all the time. I hate it.

    Like

    Comment by jennifer — November 5, 2012 @ 8:37 AM

  21. Hmmmm. Not all service are big.

    Perhaps you could train a smaller dog yourself. Or get help training him. (I believe there are courses available, but I don’t know anything about them.)

    Like

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 5, 2012 @ 10:50 AM

  22. I think that I would rather have someone else do the training. I finally filled out most of the canine assistance dog application. I do not know if I should mention about my mother having an issue with the hair. I dont want another dog that I have to worry about brushing a non shedding dog though. My Dr says not to worry about my mother, its for me, not her. Still im afraid. I dont like change. My seizure number has doubled since I last say my Dr 3 or 4 mo ago.

    Like

    Comment by jennifer — November 12, 2012 @ 4:13 PM

  23. Talk this through with your mother and DON’T tell the Canine Assist trainers this or you’ll never get a dog.

    Like

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 12, 2012 @ 6:05 PM

  24. Hi
    Could you please tell me exactly how much of EVERY £1.00 donated actually go to benefit the ‘person’ ?

    Like

    Comment by Lynda Vincent — March 23, 2016 @ 2:46 PM

  25. I’m sorry Lynda, I really don’t have the answer for that.

    Like

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 23, 2016 @ 2:55 PM

  26. I have a seizure alert service dog who been with me now for 11 years and he had saved my life so many times I cannot keep count, I got my german shepard in 2005 and he still going strong. they are a life saver

    Like

    Comment by toby1965 — September 8, 2016 @ 8:44 AM

  27. Toby, you are one lucky person. But I suppose you know that by now.

    A life saver and a friend all in one!

    Like

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — September 8, 2016 @ 9:03 AM


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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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