Riley is six years old and has Aicardi Syndrome. She is a happy child, full of energy and excitement. Riley doesn't speak in words, just sounds or by using her favorite "raspberries" as she is unable to verbally communicate her needs or wants to us.
She is not able to walk, however she can "scoot" on her bottom all around the floor at surprising speeds. Riley cannot feed herself because she has limited motor skills and also has problems swallowing properly due to her neurological complications. Because of this, she is limited to eating baby food and drinks from a bottle.
Riley also has seizures called “infantile spasms”. They can range from very subtle and hard to detect to ones where she is flung forward, face first into the floor if we don’t catch her in time. She has seizures in some form or another daily even though she takes medication twice a day to help lessen their occurrence and severity.
This is where a specially trained service/seizure dog can help! The dog can be trained to alert us of Riley’s seizures ahead of time so we can get to her and hopefully prevent serious injury. Another way the service/seizure dog could help is to watch and move along with Riley as she “scoots” around, laying in front of her and protect her head/face from hitting the floor during some of her more severe seizures.
We have taken MANY measures to minimize Riley’s seizure induced injuries but that added protection and ability to detect potential seizures will sure help!
Riley is a great kid that would truly benefit from having a service/seizure dog. Keeping her safe is the most important thing to us but having a best friend that is also specially trained to help us makes dealing with some tough days a little brighter.
I realize $20,000 is a lot of money. We are paying for the dog and the $20,000 will go towards training. It is 2 years minimum for just the service dog portion of the training. When I started this journey I called and emailed every epilepsy and service dog site. Out of hundreds of phone calls and emails, one person responded. ONE. And she was very nice and very open with me and said "We have THOUSANDS of people on the list for a service/seizure dog. Guess how many dogs we produced last year? Two. Two service dogs for thousands of people." Wow. We talked a little longer and in the end she told me to do this myself and have much better results. So I started educating myself on what to do and what not to do. First, I have learned that choosing the right dog is the most important step. Not only do we need a dog that will alert but also that cares enough to alert us. That is for the seizure alert part. Next, we need a dog that has a certain "spark" but not too much "spark". We need calm and forgiving. Forgiving is very important because when Riley has seizures she comes down so hard that sometimes it hurts. The list is endless....We have a GREAT team working with us to achieve this!! We have found a breeder that meets the standards we are looking for. We have a trainer that can train the dog to fulfill all of Riley's many needs. And we are patiently waiting for the right puppy to bring it all home!!! Our puppy has been born and we have been visiting weekly to see who fits what we need. All are impressive and a few stand out! We are meeting with the trainer and the breeder on April 11, 2017 for the final decision!! We are beyond excited to start this adventure! Thank you so much for taking the time to read Riley's story.
- Derek Schneider
- Derek Schneider
- Richelle Hettervik
- Rose Chervitz
- Gregory Black
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