Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Assistance Dog update

For anyone late in the game, my Rhodesian Ridgeback Shelby has 2 certification levels already, and is currently working on her 3rd. She is my assistance aka service dog. Due to the nature of my disorders, she has to cover a lot of needs. She is not only a mobility assist dog (when in scooter, she will retrieve dropped items, empty clothes dryer so I can fold, open doors; when in manual chair, help pull, retrieve items off shelves, you get the idea). She is on seizure alert duty 24/7; this is a tough one because of my seizures often running back to back.

I have a couple dozen seizures a day but on one particularly extreme morning, my husband took a great picture I going to share here that I feel shows well the relationship between an assistance dog and their person. Shelby normally sprawls across my lap a few minutes before a seizure starts to prevent me from going anywhere, falling, and getting injured. That morning though instead of sprawling on my lap, she tucked herself up against me, face to face. She stayed like this for more than an hour, until it was over.

March marked one year since we rescued Shelby from the Humane Society, a brutally abused one year old girl, terrified of her own shadow. I'd never had a seizure then, and my husband and I thought we were crazy for going from 1 little old Yorkie Wolfie at home to 3 dogs (that day we adopted not only Shelby but crazy Cairn Terrier Gizmo). We were drawn to Shelby and our hearts knew we had to bring her home. A month later, my disease progressed into seizures and I’ve had them daily ever since, and she could detect them before we could.

Now we know why Shelby came into our lives a year ago. Funny how that happens isn’t it? She is one of the best things to ever happen to us. I don’t think we rescued her, but maybe in a way she rescued us?


Board Copy
If you look at the difference in Shelby's ears and eyes in the pictures, if you are a "dog person" you will really see her emotions. The bottom one is what we call her happy face, her Shelby smile. She was a happy camper hanging out at the local coffee house, ears all perked up. The top picture, her eyes and brows were furrowed and downcast, her body curled up into me, worried and waiting for everything to be over.

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