Ask Lisa Peterson to share how it feels to graduate with her first Seizure Response Dog, and she’ll quickly defer to the dog: “It’s all Morrie. He deserves all the credit.”
Lisa and Morrie began their journey together less than three months ago. But in a short time, the exuberant yellow Labrador Retriever has become a lifesaver to Lisa.
“Morrie is such a blessing. He gave me my life back. Now my family can leave for work and school without worrying about me.”
That wasn’t always the case. Lisa has struggled with a seizure disorder (PNES) for more than 10 years. The situation became even more concerning two years ago, when Lisa lost the “aura” that had previously helped alert her to an impending episode. That meant that seizures would now come without warning – sometimes in precarious places, like in the shower or on the stairs – and render her confused afterwards.
Lisa’s husband Jim and their kids were hesitant about welcoming a new assistance dog into their home. But when they saw what Morrie could do – how he bonded with Lisa, how he helped Lisa avert emergencies, how he gave them all peace of mind – they fell in love. Now Morrie is a bona fide family member, always ready to work – just as ready to play.
Morrie has amazed others as well. At a recent salon appointment, Morrie was resting next to Lisa’s chair. Suddenly he jumped up from a deep sleep and began nudging and pawing at Lisa*. The stylist quickly helped them to a quiet area, and Morrie lay down next to Lisa where he remained for the duration of the seizure (about 3-4 minutes). When it was over, Lisa heard cheering and clapping. It was only then that she – and Morrie – realized that they were in view of salon staff and patrons. “The other customers told me they had never seen a service dog in action, so focused,” Lisa remarked.
“Of course, they wanted to praise and pet Morrie, but he wouldn’t budge from my side – he was still at work!”
Lisa acknowledged how Morrie’s work ethic was the result of many caring people who made a difference in his life and hers. “Thanks to those who raised Morrie, trained him and donated supplies for him,” she said. “Thanks to the entire Can Do Canines family who welcomed us, and supported us, and made sure that Morrie and I were a good fit.”
“What a gift!” she added tearfully. At the first sign of tears, Morrie popped up from his spot on the carpet and ran to Lisa –always ready to give more.
Morrie – a loving Labrador retriever and an extraordinary worry reliever.
*It is important to note that Can Do Canines DOES NOT train Seizure Assist Dogs to pre-alert to seizures. Instead, our dogs are trained to help their partner in a number of ways once a seizure occurs. Some of our dogs exhibit a pre-alerting behavior during or after training is complete. If so, we can help “shape” that behavior if it does occur, so it will be of more benefit to the client. However, a person should not expect our assistance dogs to pre-alert to a seizure.
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Puppy Raiser—Austin Wisdorf
Special Thanks—The Inmate Handlers at the Federal Correctional Institution at Waseca; The Inmate Handlers at the Federal Correctional Institution at Sandstone
Name-A-Puppy Donor—Vern Corson & Forada Lions Club
Dog Source—Stephanie and David Hunt