Category Archives: Epilepsy

The Right Dog For The Right Family

A beautiful write-up from our trainer, Pat, who is working with 7 year-old Lisa. Lisa’s mother wrote that young Lisa suffers from a number of diagnoses, including epilepsy secondary to brain malformation , dysphasia, polymicrogyria, incontinence, cortical dysplasia, extrapyramidal cerebral palsy, microcephaly, sleep disorder, congenital encephalopathy, aggression, is non-verbal, and functions intellectually at the rate of a 2 year-old. She also has many ABILITIES and can be so loving if her behaviors don’t get in the way….one of the main reasons we need a service dog.”

“Lisa is a beautiful and charming seven year old who has found her outlet to the rest of the world. Terrified of all dogs large and small, Lisa was an unlikely match for any dog. But Nina, a little Yorkie mix who had avoided all other human contact that day at the adoption event, walked right up to Lisa, and the two instantly created a special bond! In the weeks that Nina has been with Lisa’s family, Lisa’s outbursts and tantrums have declined in frequency and severity. Nina lays on Lisa’s lap even through a tantrum, even though Lisa sometimes doesn’t want her there because she wants to have her tantrum. Nina just holds tight and rides the storm through, and Lisa calms so much faster because of her! Lisa’s disabilities prevent her from communicating normally, but she will pat her lap and Nina jumps up. Today, I would swear that Lisa actually said the word “Nina”, but sadly Mom Erica didn’t hear it to verify my ears. There are so many examples that Erica told of to show how positive an effect Nina has had on Lisa.

Today was SDE’s first introduction to Lisa and her dog Nina, and the tiny 9 lb dog was so afraid of the leash that she hid under the furniture. But she will eventually lay down on the floor and crawl out from her hiding spot, and cuddles with even a stranger. Play with her, and she happily trots around with the leash gently held in my hand. Ignore her, and she quietly sits by my feet with big black eyes pleadingly asking for attention. I fully accepted Nina as Lisa’s Service Dog candidate. No other dog could be better suited to serving Lisa’s needs. To watch them together is to see a human-canine relationship that any parent would love for their child.

Through our training, Nina will learn to play fetch, and will in turn teach Lisa to throw a ball. Nina will learn to walk nicely on a leash, and will in turn teach Lisa the joy of walking her best friend. Nina already knows how to calm Lisa, giving her the potential to go places and do things that she couldn’t do before. Though it may take some time, Nina’s goal is to pass the Public Access Test. No less would suffice, because Nina has stepped into training for her purpose in life… Lisa’s Service Dog.”

Erica, Lisa’s mother, wrote this beautiful note back to trainer, Pat:

“I can’t wait!! We are all so excited! My job and my life is for Lisa and of course my entire gang here, but I do put a lot of dedication into getting everything I can for Lisa and doing everything I can to help her be as functional a person as her little heart, brain, and body will allow.

It was so great to meet you and see the love and dedication you put into these cases. We seem to have found the right dog for the right family, and the right trainer to help dog and family work you together toward something that will amaze just about everyone who knows Lisa! I’m writing this and crying like a baby to even fathom the things Lisa may be able to do someday just because of Nina. I imagine she’ll blurt out some more words and then we might have to have a party!

Again, thanks for choosing us (a rescue dog family) to work with. We’re ready!

Savannah and SD Valentina

From trainer Letty, who is working with Savannah, who is 17 years old and has epilepsy and developmental delays, and her SD, Valentina (V):

“I had a wonderful training session with Savannah and SD Valentina. We walked from Target to Ross in the Forum. While we were in Ross, we worked on control, balance, and keeping SD V close to Savannah’s body. Savannah did a wonderful job and requires little to no cueing with V. When we were done, we walked back to Target and met up with Savannah’s grandma.

I went over each of the commands that SD Valentina knows including sit, down, stay, leave it, load, unload, heel and how to cue both Savannah and V for each of them correctly. I had Savannah put V in a front cover and practiced walking in that position. It’s always a pleasure to work with this team.!”

Wonderful meeting for Kimberly and Viva!

An update from Cherry Jenkins and Kimberly!

Meeting a new dog that will be trained to be a Service Dog for anyone can be an exciting experience, and it was especially wonderful for Kimberly, who met for the first time her SDIT Viva.

VivaViva and Kimberly took to each other immediately. Kimberly suffers with seizures and anxiety, and needs a dog to help her cope with every day life as well have Viva trained to detect and alert if Kimberly will have or has a seizure.

For a dog to detect a seizure, the bonding with human and dog must be intense, so the first meeting to see if they will bond is crucial.  There were obviously no worries for Kimberly as Viva took to her instantly!

SD VivaViva looked at Kimberly directly in her eyes and smiled and was happy to lay down by her side while we chatted about the entire process and our journey together. Kimberly has the wonderful support of her family, who were there at the meeting and were equally thrilled at the instant connection that Viva and Kimberly had.

The family and I got along really well too, and I was honored when they asked me if I would be their trainer. Nothing would make me happier than to work with such a wonderful family.

Kimberly’s mom, Tonya, said that she could see that Viva was going to change Kimberly’s life. I agree, and I am so pleased that they have invited me along on their journey.

Viva was adopted from In Dog We Trust rescue San Antonio.

Latest on Tyler and SDIT Destiny

An extremely moving comment from Jo, whose son, Tyler, struggles with epilepsy and has SDIT Destiny, rescued and trained by Cherry Jenkins with Service Dog Express and In Dog We Trust, and still receiving training up where Tyler lives to help alert to and help with seizures. Jo writes:

epilepsy “Nobody really gets having a child with epilepsy unless they live it too. Watching Tyler swim at this competition today in TWO events is mind blowing. Considering what he has going on in his brain while trying to swim FAST. Fighting constant electrical surges in his brain that confuses his body. Fighting FOUR anti-seizure meds in his system whose jobs are to SLOW his brain down.

So my son may not finish first. He may come in last. Either way, I could never be more proud of him.

And yet still I wonder what WOULD he be capable of doing without all that gunk. I just battle myself to not let my mind go there too often.

Waiting on his two swim events! Proud nervous mom in the stands. Dad is on deck in case of emergency”.

Update – 2nd in his heat for 50 freestyle 30.80!!


Savannah and her SD Valentina

From our trainer Letty, who is working with Savannah, a dear 17 yr-old with Epilepsy and Developmental Delays, and her SD, Valentina.

“We had a wonderful training at Target! We worked on a small issues that Valentina and Savannah were having with touching while they walked. This is a technique that is used in mobility; it allows the SD to learn the “normal” gate of their partner. In doing this, when the gate changes or is compromised, the SD can help to correct or stabilize their partner. In some cases, as with Savannah, it can be an indicator of an impending seizure.

I came up with a little device that would keep them closer together and that could be manipulated to continue to “close the gap” between them. I used a stretchy cat collar and a clip. One end was threaded trough the clip and the other into Savannah’s belt loop. Then I simply closed the collar. This gives them both a bit of room to get used to feeling that close as well as keeping them together. It worked like a dream!!!”


Tyler with SD Destiny

Look at this wonderful picture!!! There is Tyler, who suffers from epilepsy, with his SD, Destiny!!! They are on the right, if you have trouble distinguishing a dog from a swimmer!! Tee hee. Taylor and Destiny are training twice a week together – and it’s going great, according to his mother!!! SO proud of you Tyler, Destiny, and mom Jo!!!