Category Archives: Seizure

Assistance in the Rio Grande Valley and more

This is a message from our exceptionally brilliant and compassionate trainer, Jacqueline (Jackie). Her life’s passion is to help Veterans, and she asked us to post this for all Veterans, especially in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV), if they need help.

I have been a graduate psychologist at the VA down here in the RGV. After working in 3 different VA health care systems, I have seen the great need for Veteran care and have seen both good (actually excellent) and bad ways VAs are run and treatment is provided. It is with an EXTREMELY saddened heart that I can no longer allow myself to provide a lower level of care to Veterans than what they deserve, nor be forced into functioning in a treatment setting that is providing unethical care.

I LOVE my work with Veterans and see such a huge need for this to continue, but as I leave, I also see several other amazing psychologists leaving as well due to the same challenges. I continue to see a need for Behavioral Health Care in the Rio Grande Valley, with Veterans and Civilians alike. After 11 years of schooling and 7 years providing Behavioral Health (BH) Services, I was completing my licensure requirements as a psychologist to provide the highest and most comprehensive options out there, however, despite the need for services in the RGV, I ran into several dead ends for finishing this last piece. However, I am willing to put my own final step on hold to help two communities (Veterans and anyone in the RGV) in need of BH services.

I hold a Masters Level License in the State of Texas that allows me to practice independently (but with some restrictions from what I would have had with my psychologist license and obviously at about 1/3-1/4 of the pay). I am hoping to make some things come together over the next month or two (and will probably be open to picking up random general labor work as my student loans have gone into effect and I incurred debt moving from Idaho to here), but am hoping to offer TeleHealth (similar to Skyping but in a much more secure system) and/or in home therapy/animal assisted-therapy services here in the RGV at hopefully a fraction of the cost of some other places (most likely on an income based sliding scale fee basis) since I will not be accepting insurance and I am wanting to reach a larger population of those in need.

That being said, minus the in-home piece, I am able to offer this TeleHealth service within the scope of my practice anywhere in the state of Texas. I am most wanting to reach Veterans as I know for many, wait times between treatment sessions is 2-3 months in several facilities throughout the state. However, I am also really wanting to service Civilians in the RGV and throughout Texas. I am NOT bilingual unfortunately, but have a considerable amount of understanding of the RGV culture, the Hispanic Culture, and the Texas Hispanic Culture.

For those of you who may know of people who may be able to benefit from this, please feel free to contact me. I will gladly share my extensive training and treatment experience with anyone who requests this, and am hoping to start this as an option for the community within the next two months.

Please contact me at: Jacqueline Kappelman

Amanda and SDiT Diezel

Our trainer, Andrew, has had several training sessions with Amanda, who suffers from epilepsy and anxiety related to her fear of having seizures. Her SDIT is beautiful Diezel! Andrew writes:

At our first session, we began our session by walking around the block. Having Penelope, my little companion dog with me, I handed her to Amanda in trade for the big, beautiful Diezel! I worked on his heel, allowing the dog to correct himself when he pulled and rewarding Diezel for keeping the leash loose. This is also the beginning of teaching Diezel that when he is called, he needs to be in position, but when released he can go anywhere within the reach of the leash without pulling. After we finished our walk, we went inside the house and worked on “stays” and “waits”.

At our next session, Amanda made the trip to my house. At first, Diezel was very distracted all the scents of our horses, donkey, and many dogs, which was to be expected. We worked with Diezel on trying to keep his focus on the task at hand, and we rewarded him handsomely each time he remained focused. We worked on loose-leash walking and heeling with directional changes, trying to make the training firm but fun. By the end of our first session, Diezel was focusing so well on Amanda and was not very distracted at all!

We practiced “accept restraint” – a game used to desensitize a dog to various circumstances like a vet visit, or a grooming, or something simple like accepting training equipment. We also practiced what I call “take it”, where the handler tosses a treat for the dog to retrieve and then commands the dog to return. This game can be used to teach the dog to fetch a toy, then eventually personal items.

At the most recent session, we reinforced heeling maneuvers, focus, loose-leash walking, wait, stay, and take it. I had to remind Amanda a little bit about the importance of stepping off with the correct foot when beginning a walk or commanding the dog to stay/wait. I believe our body language speaks volumes to the dogs we are working with, far more so than our words, so it I absolutely imperative that we are consistent in not only the correct sequence of gestures, but way we hold ourselves with confidence and authority.

We have now reached the end of our obedience behaviors and from now on we will be working out in a real world environment to solidify, generalize, and strengthen our dogs working behavior and our bond with the animal. We will be learning “cover”, and whatever helps to soothe Amanda’s anxiety and stress. Both Amanda and her husband have confessed to me that they are very proud of the state of calm confidence that has been instilled into Diezel as a result of our training. In the beginning he was a big wrecking ball – unable to sit still and keep focus on anything, but at the end of our last session he was sitting calmly and confidently in front of them, fully receiving pets from them.


7 year-old Aiden and SDiT Coe

Trainer Catherine, in Virginia, writes about her recent training:

I met with 7 year-old Aiden, who suffers from multiple physical disabilities, seizures, and some cognitive disabilities, and his mother, Amie. Since Aiden is nonverbal and although he can use sign language, can do minimal signs, I do 95% of the training with Amie. They adopted 1 year old Lab/Beagle mix, Coe from a rescue when I did an evaluation on him and found him to be a lovely match for the family! The last two weeks has been spent with Coe settling in. He’s adjusting super well! Amie says he has some fear of loud noises, but we suspect he was an outside dog prior to his rescue, so once he’s exposed to noises, he seems to adjust really well. They’ve been working on “sit”, “down”, “touch”, and “heeling” nicely on a leash. Coe walks beautifully with Amie, and Coe will even let Aiden hold the leash and not pull at all! Aiden cannot walk on his own, so eventually Coe will learn to help balance him. Coe loves to sit with Aiden on the couch and when Aiden has seizures and falls over, Coe is amazing about staying put and making sure that Aiden doesn’t fall off! The bond these two have is BEAUTIFUL!

I took my SD Baron’s vest over just to try it on to see size-wise what kind of vest would be good for Coe. It fit perfectly and something amazing happened. As I watched, Jay (Amie’s boyfriend) was helping Aiden to walk and Aiden grabbed a hold of the loop on the back of the vest Coe was wearing and with Jay’s help, leaned on Coe and the 3 of them walked all the way across the basement and back…WITH NO TRAINING!!!! I stood there absolutely amazed!!!! I know this dog is going to do great things for Aiden and I can’t believe I forgot to get pictures. I’ll have to get some next time!”


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.!”

Spaying Katie

Please say prayers for dear 18 month-old husky, Katie, SD for the amazing WW Troy. Don’t worry – last update, she’s doing fine – but Troy had to make the agonizing decision about getting her spayed. As many of you already know, Troy’s life literally depends on Katie now, as she alerts to his seizures 32 minutes before they happen. His doctors have altered his medication based upon the incredible accuracy of Katie’s alerts, so that as soon as she does alert, he takes his medication and it begins working in 20 minutes. Troy has been seizure-free for 7 months now because of this – the longest he has gone since his injuries sustained in the military. Troy was very worried that spaying Katie might have some effect on her alerting abilities. So, I wrote to every ADI-accredited agency across the nation that specializes in epilepsy alert Service Dogs (I believe their were six). Each organization’s director was kind enough to answer my question with their opinion (and all were also amazed to hear Troy and Katie’s system) – and the consensus was overwhelmingly that he should go ahead with the spay. So, Katie was spayed and is healing now – let’s just send best wishes to Troy that the spay will have no effect on Katie’s alerting ability!

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!!!”