Hello, our names are Tom and Kim and we currently live in Virginia. Our teenage son Michael was diagnosed with epilepsy about 5 years ago, secondary to a stroke he suffered as an infant. He has many days where he has multiple seizures and his epilepsy is now considered intractable, meaning, it is not controlled with medication. Over the last 5 years, we have tried multiple medications without success, he's had a portion of his brain removed to try and control the seizures, and most recently, has had a VNS implant. While each of these things help a little, he has not achieved seizure freedom.
As a result of the unrelenting seizures, Mike cannot be left by himself, cannot drive and has no real freedom or independence. In our quest to find something to help him, we realized how much it helped having our dog around so we looked in to getting an assistance dog for him. There are some wonderful organizations the help train assistance dogs but require up to $25,000 in fundraising to obtain a dog. There are other organizations that help the individual train their own dog and this is the route we decided to take. While no organization or trainer can guarantee a dog will be able to predict or even pick up on the seizures, we were very lucky with Willow, the Belgian Malinois we purchased for him last year as a puppy, because within a week, she started to pick up on them. She tells us when he's having a seizure by licking his face and/or his head, which in turn, allows us time to get him safely to a sitting or laying down position so that he does not fall down.
We are very lucky because we have great healthcare coverage through my (Kim's) employer but Tom was laid off a little over 4 years ago. At the same time, we realized that one of us needed to be home or around to care for Mike on a more full-time basis so Tom took a low paying job that allowed him the freedom to come and go to as needed and to have Mike with him at work when needed. But 4 years of being underemployed has taken a toll on our finances so we are requesting assistance with getting Willow's training completed - we are working with a wonderful trainer who is helping us achieve the training - and also to help with her vet care, food and other supplies she will need to function as an assistance dog (like her vests). It is our hope that having a dedicated assistance dog will help Mike with his own self-confidence as he helps to train her and will afford him the opportunity to be more independent.
Thank you for your time and consideration!
Tom and Kim