Many Canadians with disabilities benefit from a service dog. We asked moms whose families have been impacted by the presence of a Dog Guide to share their stories. Here is what Yvonne had to say about Texas, her son Ethan’s Seizure Response Dog Guide.
My husband Curtis and I have six kids: Caitlyn, Braydan, Sarah, Ethan, Drake and Emet. Ethan walked early and talked early. He excels at athletics and is, in general, an overachiever. His biggest challenge is that he is very hard on himself. Having epilepsy and not being able to “control” his seizures is very difficult for him to accept.
For a very long time we were scared to go to sleep at night. That is when Ethan has his worst seizures. We were a very sleep deprived family. Now that he has Texas, Ethan feels safe at night knowing that Texas will bark to alert us if he has a seizure and help will come quickly. We all sleep better because of this.
Texas is patient. Ethan, Curtis, and I have a feeling of security and safety, knowing that Texas is on-duty and looking out for Ethan. He is a comfort to Ethan when he is recovering from a seizure or having a bad day. Texas is a friend and has unconditional love for Ethan.
You have never seen a happier boy and dog the first time Ethan and Texas met!
Texas' foster puppy parents gave us a photo album of his “Puppy Days” and included a few stories. One of them was that he loved to collect socks. This is still something he loves to do! When he is off-duty and the family is watching TV, we purposely hide socks around the living room for Texas to find and put in a pile.
Texas also likes to gather up hockey pucks. When he is playing in the yard during off-duty times, he fetches the pucks that miss the net and brings them back to the boys. He can hold two in his mouth by stacking one on the other and then picking them up again. It is hilarious to watch!
In order to keep their bond strong, Ethan is Texas' Primary Caregiver—except for during a hockey or football game, when Ethan gives Texas the command “Say Hi to Mom” and then I take over for a while. Having Texas has helped Ethan learn to take care of someone else's needs by feeding, grooming, cleaning up after him.
From my experience, it is important to follow the guidelines for proper handling and training but to not be a perfectionist. I was way too uptight when Ethan first got Texas and I caused some stress for them. I have backed off on things like brushing hair and teeth, both for Ethan and Texas! Boys don't like that kind of stuff so if it is not done every day, I try not to sweat it. I know Ethan loves Texas and he is doing the best he can. And Texas adores Ethan! He has been a blessing in our life.
Getting Texas has opened our eyes to the hard work and wonderful service that the Lions Foundation Dog Guides of Canada provide. We are thankful for Gloria and Kayla, our Seizure Response Dog Guide trainers, and all the staff for the wonderful training they did with Texas and with Ethan and me at the "Dog School" in Oakville.
We are also grateful for our local Carnduff Lion's Club, for their part in our sponsorship, and our vets Marcel Macfarlane and Dawn Pawlyn, who have provided free vaccinations for Texas.
If you enjoyed this post about service dogs helping families, see this story of about a family waiting for an Autism Assistance Dog Guide.
And if you want to donate or participate, the Purina Walk For Dog Guides is a national fundraising walk happening in 200 communities across Canada on May 25th that supports the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides program.