Canine Caretakers: How Service Dogs Can Help Many Types of Patients

Posted May 17th, 2011 by

Service Dog Mali

Now that PatientsLikeMe is open to any patient with any condition, we’ve noticed more patients with different conditions sharing similar lifestyle modifications. One example is the use of a service dog.

What are the benefits – both expected and unexpected – of a four-legged assistant?  We asked some of our members to talk about their service dogs’ best qualities.

The Uncanny Seizure Predictor

  • “[My seizure dog Mandy] has awakened me two times just as a seizure was about to start. I don’t know how she does it but she does. In fact, I had a seizure outside once (doesn’t happen often), and Mandy ran to a neighbor’s house and barked until they came to me.” Mandysmother (Epilepsy patient)

The Sensitive Tear Licker

  • “He is my balance dog. He knows when I am about to have a migraine or a seizure and he even knows when I am hurting. Isn’t that funny? He licks my tears when I am crying, and he knows when to stay away from me.”  Some1Special (Mental Health and Behavior patient)

The Good-Humored Mind Reader

  • “[My service dog Mali] was the best decision I ever made. With her I now have some of my independence again, and for a woman who used to climb mountains and water ski, going to the store again after years never going anywhere alone, this means the world to me. The fact that Mali has a sense of humor and seems to read my mind is only another blessing to go along with my newfound freedom.” Anahit (Fibromyalgia patient)

The Anti-Tripping Companion

  • “My neurologist thinks the service dog is preventing my gait from freezing! (When he heels, he constantly moves his head near my knee to check for a command.) I haven’t ended up on the ground or floor since I got him. He is great company! He is always willing to join me on my ‘5 miles/day,’ and since I got him, no one has mistaken my Parkinson’s for being intoxicated!”
    FriendlyTraveler (Parkinson’s disease patient)

Do you have an outstanding service dog too?  Share your experiences in the comments section and don’t forget to add “service dog” to your list of lifestyle modifications.

PatientsLikeMe member jdevita


4 Comments

  1. How do you go about getting one of these service dogs?

  2. I have the most amazing chihauhau,yes I said chihauhau.He is my seizure dog.I also have fibromyalgia and he helps me make it through the tough times with it as well.I have my good days and bad days and Baily is there through it all. I couldn’t believe it the first time he alerted me to an oncoming seizure.But,he has been right every time.I trust him with my life.I know that when he alerts,to get down before I fall down.I don’t know what I would do without him.As for Baily and my fibromyalgia he is there though good days and bad days.There are a lot of bad days.But he stays right there with me no matter how bad the pain gets.
    He gives the most unconditional love an animal could ever give.I don’t ever want to know what life would be like without my precious Baily.BailysMother

  3. I have friends who train service dogs, and it is impressive the amount of work that goes into it, and how truly intelligent these animals are. I have heard numerous stories about how a dog saved someone’s life. They are very special. My daughter has epilepsy, and fortunately is well controlled on medication, but I know these dogs are used frequently by people with epilepsy.
    To do a little research, I found a professional monograph on pet therapy on http://www.naturalstandard .com. I read that expert opinion and folkloric precedent are that pet therapy may be an effective adjunctive therapy option for promoting relaxation, social interaction, and psychological well-being in a variety of settings. Furthermore, in an evidence-based clinical review, Natural Standard found that pet therapy has good scientific evidence for promoting quality of life. I wonder if the specific use of service dogs benefit patients with epilepsy in a similar regard.

  4. I have a dog who makes me smile and makes life somewhat bearable. I have fibromyalgia, cfs, osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporpsos and more, pain level is 10 99% of the time, even on pain meds. I’ve been doing the best I can in training my dog to pick up items off the floor that I do drop. I know he can learn more than this to help me. I need help in this area and I have no idea who to contact to help me. I am only on pain medication. Right now my fibro is active, headache, eyes are bothering me, muscle aches, spine I’ve been told has multiple herniations with nerve involvement, that adds to the severe pain I’m suffering. No one should have to live like this. I really would like help in training my dog to become a service dog. I know he can do it. I am SSD which puts me in a low income bracket. Have an electric wheelchair but don’t have the ramp for my van so at i could get out of the house. Became disabled in 1972 due to an auto accident in which I was a passenger.

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