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My service dog makes me feel safe and happy!

By Rosalie Brown

I have suffered from epilepsy most of my life. Three-and-a-half years ago, I received a service dog from the service dog school Canine Assistants. His name is Rolex, and he’s specially trained in epilepsy support. I first met Rolex on April 1, 2014. I was beyond excited. I had been on the waiting list with Canine Assistants for the past four and a half years, and I was hoping that my dog would change my life for the better. Canine Assistants has the philosophy that your service dog should pick you because if your dog loves you, there is nothing he or she won’t do for you. They set aside a few dogs they think might work with your personality and your disability, and the dogs do the rest.

Milk-Bone celebrates 20 years with Canine Assistants – see more of Rosalie and Rolex here.

So when the time finally came, I went into the lobby at the Canine Assistants farm. My mom came with me as well as some trainers standing along the wall. I sat down on the couch, and my arm was in a sling because a recent seizure had dislocated my shoulder. They opened the door and Rolex came trotting in dragging his leash. He was wagging his tail back and forth furiously and he ran right up to me. He picked up the end of his leash and placed it in my hands. Then he buried his head in my chest and wouldn’t move. It was magical. The whole room was in tears. He was the first and only dog I saw. I knew I didn’t need to see another one.

I’ve had seizures for most of my life since I was six years old but they were for the most part managed with medication. Around my junior year in high school they started getting a lot worse. During my sophomore year in college my disability peaked. I was having 300 small seizures every day and a grand mal/tonic clonic seizure every week or two. I had a constant migraine and my shoulder regularly dislocated. I had to quit school and my job.

Rolex made me feel safe; it’s an incredible feeling to understand when you haven’t felt safe in years. He made me feel happy. And letting go of some of that stress and depression in and of itself caused me to have less seizures. Rolex is trained for seizure response. He knows how to go get help, get my phone, and he helps me navigate when I’m injured. And within six months of receiving him, he learned on his own how to alert me ahead of time that a large seizure was coming. Now I can leave work, take emergency precautions, call someone — whatever I need to do. Because of him, my seizures have decreased significantly. I’ve been able to get surgery on my shoulder and become successful at a fulfilling job. I know now what it’s like to live without being in constant pain. I’m happy and I’m healthy. I’m able to enjoy and spend time with my family and my friends. I have a partner who loves me. This summer, I was finally at the point where I could start going back to school to finish my degree, all because of Rolex.

Rolex has his own dog language. The happier he is, the faster his tail will wag. He will also make this ridiculous happy noise that sounds like something between a growl and a howl. When he wants something he perks up his ears, because he knows he’s adorable, and it’s impossible to refuse him. When he wants attention, he paws at me — more and more insistently — and he makes talking noises. When everything is fine, he is very calm and out of the way. When he’s worried about me — generally if I’m about to have a seizure — he whines and cries and climbs on top of me. When he wants to comfort me, he snuggles and cuddles and licks me.

I talk to Rolex like I would any other person. He understands my tone and what I want from him. And sometimes he has to choose between what I want and what is best for me. When I’m at work and he’s alerting me, but I am not in the mood to have a seizure (like that ever helps) he will go to my boss, sit and stare at her until she gets up, comes to me, and sends me home. He also has certain verbal and non-verbal queues that he understands. For example, “Go get help” means find the nearest person and bring them back to me STAT. “Tug” means open the door. Looking at the floor means lie down.

Rolex is serious about cuddle time. It HAS to happen for at least five minutes every morning, or he WILL NOT let me out of bed. He also is very methodical about kisses. He licks very hard. It’s very endearing and also pretty gross. He makes his happy noise and he jumps up to give excellent hugs. But the best way that he shows his love is that he is always there when I need him, in sickness and health, so to speak. He’s a ham and he has quite the personality. He never fails to brighten my day. He loves being brushed so that is a nightly occurrence. I take him on walks and we go on puppy play dates. I play with him at home and I never raise my voice at him. And just like he’s always there for me, I’m always there for him. We go nowhere without each other.

His favorite treats are the Milk-Bone soft and chewy ones. (He chatters his teeth after he gets them, hilarious and adorable). I try to let him be a dog. Rolex is 24/7 on the job. He is always aware of what I’m doing so he can keep me safe — even when he’s playing. It’s more than just the incredible training he received at Canine Assistants: This dog was born to do a job, and he wants to do it. Every day he gives up a part of himself to keep me safe.

Rolex taught me how to love myself in spite of my disability. He’s showed me how to use the hardships my disability has put me through in order to empathize with others. He’s shown me the way forward, and now I can be a role model for others. I truly don’t have the words to explain how much Rolex means to me.

Milk-Bone celebrates 20 years with Canine Assistants – see more of Rosalie and Rolex here.


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