Mother and Daughter Mobility/Alert Service Dog in Training Team


Heather Hellman wrote:

Today I got really frustrated with my kid’s illness and lost my patience with my kid. Having a sick kid is hard! Here is something I wrote as a puppy raiser/handler for Mobility Dogs West Coast Project (link to the actual page and website where you can donate in comments). It captures some of the hard and some of the hope recent events are bringing:

Watching my amazing, kind, hard working, smart, capable daughter unable to get up off the floor is devastating. Trying to help her make it to school each morning and helping her face the defeat of not going is heartbreaking. Hearing the thud of her unconscious body hitting the floor after she passes out, that is perhaps the scariest thing of all. I have watched my daughter’s world narrow under the symptoms of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome for the past two years, but now finally thanks to Edison and Mobility Service Dogs West Coast Project, there is hope, her world is starting to open again and my fears for her are subsiding.

Edison is my daughter’s service dog in training. The hope is that Edison will be able to medically alert her before she passes out so she can be in a safe seated or lying down position, preventing things like her previous concussion and sprained wrist. He will also serve as mobility support, giving her counterbalance and stability so on the days that her dizziness is so extreme she can only stumble and fall, she will be able to walk instead. We hope that by teaming up with Edison she will be able to regain independence and go to college in two years.

Edison just came to us but already he is bringing a lot of hope and a lot of learning. Finally my daughter has something positive to focus on related to her illness. His care and training adds a new sense of purpose to her days and pride instead of embarrassment. Now she won’t be known as the girl who misses so much school, but as the girl with the dog. It is not without its challenges though. Because he is so young and isn’t quite ready for school yet, I am Co training Edison with her. It feels a bit like we have a toddler in the house again, we have to watch his every move. We also have to take him with us everywhere to expose him to as much as possible. That can be full of missteps and learning experiences. We have to do a lot of explaining as to why he is behaving a certain way, what his purpose is, and what he is doing there. It has served as a great opportunity to educate people both about service dogs and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. It is also teaching us a bit about parenting and grand parenting as my daughter has seen how my husband and I have screwed up our other dog children and she is not willing to let that happen to Edison, but she is also not always appreciative of the advice we give from the wisdom we have gained from our mistakes over the years. Edison is bringing much life and levity back into our house though.

It took two years of frustration to get a medical diagnosis for my daughter but it took only two months for Mobility Dogs West Coast Project to match us with Edison. Janie and her community went above and beyond to research Tabitha’s illness and find a trainer that could give her the tools to train Edison for medical alert too. I wasn’t very fond of poodles before meeting Edison, but he has changed my view completely. Our family and our support community are all profoundly grateful for Janie and Mobility Dogs!