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Florida Service Dog Training

“Seven Years.”

“Three Years.”

“My four-year old son was refused.”

“My 89-year old mother cannot get one either.”

These people, and their families, suffer from seizure disorders. Established organizations refuse them based on age or put them on waiting lists-at the bottom.

 In my 30 years of dog training, nothing has struck me as more unconscionable in the field of assistance animal training as the waiting list or age requirements imposed upon people suffering from seizure and psychiatric disorders. I can only speculate that the reasons for that situation relate to the organizations’ policies of “breeding, raising, and training.”   Because of this extended training time, the cost for each dog can be upward of $20,000, which is often covered by charities or government grants. Each dog is trained for up to 90 tasks or commands, most of which are not only helpful, but “showy”-good for getting the necessary donations and for good public relations.

Meanwhile, persons with seizure disorders are prisoners of their condition, and very often so is a family member. Children must be accompanied everywhere by a parent, wear protective helmets, and usually share a bedroom with a family member. Adult victims cannot drive safely; attend school, or work, without first educating a colleague or teacher about their condition. Without properly informed people around them, victims often find themselves in emergency rooms trying to explain their medical condition to yet another team of doctors, submitting to another battery of tests, paying another bill…the horrors continue.

Seizure alert dogs, which warn of impending seizures, possess a gift or ability that so far has defied scientific explanations, but has been thoroughly documented.  This gift is not restricted to “traditional” breeds or types of dogs, does not appear to be genetically transmitted, and shows up at various ages. It is not really as rare as we once thought, and may be as common as 25% of all dogs.

I befriended a client whose seizures were caused by a brain injury, and we began to dream of one day opening a school to train gifted dogs for epileptics who would otherwise be refused or delayed by other organizations.

We now have a beautiful intake facility in south Florida, where we take newly adopted shelter dogs (we don’t breed), who possess the gift of seizure detection and train them as service dogs in as little as 4 months and for under $6,000.

Of the dozens of dogs we have placed since March 2012, three young women who received our dogs STOPPED having seizures upon taking the dog home. We hope soon to begin a research program to find out the HOW of seizure detection, and maybe, help find a cure…