Wednesday, March 25, 2015

10 Household Items That Are Poisonous to Cats

Infographic Courtesy of Pets Best Pet Insurance for Dogs and Cats
Pets, like babies, require having the house patrolled for anything that might be poisonous to them before they are allowed free rein in that environment. To that end, Dr. Eva Evans, who is a veterinarian as well as a writer for Pets Best (, a pet insurance company for both dogs and cats, has compiled a list of 10 household items that are poisonous to cats.

Many common items found in or around the house can make cats very ill, and some are even toxic for felines. Pet owners can help keep their cats safe by keeping them away from the potential poisons listed below:

1. Rat poison
Also known as rodenticide, this toxic substance inhibits Vitamin K and causes severe and potentially fatal internal bleeding if not treated.

2. Lilies
This is possibly the most common deadly house plant for cats. Cats that eat any part of the plant or even drink the water from the lily vase can develop fatal kidney failure if not caught early and treated aggressively.

3. Marijuana
This recreational drug can cause profound effects in cats including hallucination, muscle tremors, depression and difficulty breathing.

4. Chocolate
Chocolate contains caffeine, which is toxic to cats. Cats are more sensitive to caffeine, which is also found in coffee, tea, caffeine pills and energy drinks, than dogs. Cats can experience tremors, seizures, coma and death as a result of consuming chocolate and other caffeinated products.

5. Ibuprofen
This human anti-inflammatory (i.e. Advil) can cause severe damage to the kidneys, liver and GI tract of cats. Ibuprofen can cause severe bleeding ulcers which can make cats anemic and these cats may require a blood transfusion. Cats are especially sensitive to Ibuprofen and should never be given this drug.

6. Aspirin
This anti-inflammatory can cause the same kidney and stomach problems as Ibuprofen. However, aspirin is an anti-coagulant, which means that it prevents platelets from clotting. This can cause internal bleeding in cats. There are rare circumstances in which Aspirin may be useful in ultra-low doses, but do not give Aspirin to your cat unless specifically prescribed by your veterinarian.

7. Acetaminophen
Cats lack the ability to properly metabolize acetaminophen, i.e. Tylenol, which leads to severe and potentially fatal anemia. When this happens, cats experience respiratory distress, swelling in the face and paws, vomiting and hypothermia, followed by death.

8. Sago Palm
This southwest desert ornamental palm is extremely toxic to cats and dogs. Ingesting even a small amount can cause liver failure, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and death.

9. Amaryllis
The outer layer of the bulb is the most toxic part of this beautiful holiday plant. Ingestion can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and liver damage.

10. English Ivy
While the toxicity of this plant is mild, it can cause discomfort in the mouth and throat if the berries and leaves are eaten by cats.

If you suspect your cat has ingested or been exposed to any of the above items, call your veterinarian immediately. If your veterinarian’s office is closed, call the nearest emergency veterinary clinic. They can help you determine the next best steps, which could include bringing your cat in for emergency treatment.

- See more at:

Thanks to Dr. Eva Evans and Pets Best Pet Insurance for Dogs and Cats for sharing this important information.

NOTE: I did not receive any payment in any form for blogging this information. It was my choice to post this for cat owners' information, to help keep their pets safe, healthy and happy.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Book Review: Decoding Your Dog

Decoding Your Dog by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB) brings you explanations of dog behavior to help you understand your own dog. ACVB members have to meet specific criteria and must pass a test in order to be Board Certified in this specialty. Members are in practice, some members are also researchers, all of them are dedicated to staying on top of the latest research in order to bring it to their patients, often consulted by veterinarians in practice when they need expert advice on a case. Many veterinarians will send their clients out for a consultation with an ACVB member if there is one within driving distance. There are other behaviorists but these members must also be veterinarians. The letters after a veterinarian's DVM or VMD, DACVB means that they are a Diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorist.

Each of the 14 Chapters was written by one or two Veterinary Behaviorists, an assortment from the U.S. and Canada. The book was edited by Debra F. Horowitz, DVM, DACVB and John Ciribassi, DVM, DACVB with Steve Dale. Unmentioned but credited by Steve Dale is editor Beth Adelman. I have no idea why her name doesn't appear prominently since the description of what she did certainly deserved it.

Written by professionals for pet owners, although some veterinarians may also want a copy in their library, Decoding Your Dog gives pet owners an opportunity to learn about various dog behaviors. Why does my dog to this? Now you'll have your answer, whether it's Separation Anxiety or Aggression, Housetraining Problems. This book runs the gamut.

What I found most impressive is the definitive stand on positive training and why its more effective. You know I talk about it repeatedly. Now you can get the information straight from the veterinary behaviorists with studies to back them up.

Many of my favorite veterinary behaviorists appear in this book. You'll learn how to choose a dog, how to "read" your dog, and you'll learn about psychopharmacology.There's also a Glossary of Terms. At the end of each chapter is a box summarizing what you've learned, very much recognizable to those of you who own a copy of my Angell Memorial Animal Hospital Book of Wellness and Preventive Care for Dogs. It's something I think is very helpful for dog owners who are just learning about each topic.

Decoding Your Dog has been in my personal library for awhile. I think it should be in yours, too.

The book, originally published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  is 384 pages in hardcover. It can be purchased in Hardcover, Paperback or e-Book format. Price will vary by format and point of purchase. It can be purchased wherever books are sold. 

Here's a link to the Decoding Your Dog

Here is a link to the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists:

Note: I received a Review Copy of this book. I was not compensated in any other way. The opinion expressed in this review is mine alone.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Aloha Vet

Dr, Scott Sims

Can you imagine being a veterinarian in Hawaii? Not much of a stretch if you love animals and choose to live in a sunny locale. But what if you built your own plane and flew it from island to island to treat you patients? Does that sound like the plot of a novel? Well, maybe, but it's reality for Dr. Scott Sims. Yes, he really does pilot a plane that he built, going from island to island to treat his patients including, of course, the ones that are on the remote islands.

It may not be the plot of a novel but it is a new TV series on Nat Geo WILD.  Viewers will be going along on house calls to everything from house pets to wildlife. Dr. Sims treats them everywhere from near waterfalls to beaches and mountaintops. Even the tailgate of a truck provides space for him to treat a patient. Whether he's rescuing a sea turtle from a fishing line or an unconscious horse stuck in a riverbed, you'll be able to vicariously share his adventures. 

"I love flying and want to help animals on other islands," Dr. Sims explains. "I began expanding my veterinary services to the Hawaiian islands because there were animals that needed medical attention. It brings me great joy to know that I am helping them," he says.

Beginning this Saturday, March 21st, you'll be able to share Dr. Sims' workdays in Aloha Vet on Nat Geo WILD. Check your local listings. 

I don't want to miss a minute of this new series. Hawaii, Animals, and a dedicated veterinarian. What a great combination.

Below find a sneak peek of a clip from the show

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Vacation and Adopt a Pet!


Imagine going on vacation to a lovely hotel and discovering that the dogs who are behind the desk are available for adoption! That's exactly what happens if you walk into the Aloft Asheville Downtown in Asheville, North Carolina. Reportedly a lovely area with a noted arts community, you would think that that would be enough but to be met by a pair of soft, bright canine eyes, well, that's a bonus most of us couldn't resist.

McKibbon Hotel Group, an award-winning hotel management group, has partnered with Charlie's Angels Animal Rescue (CAAR), to try to effect more dog adoptions in the community. It's an inspired idea. Dogs add so much warmth wherever they go, and it's proven that our blood pressure lowers while we're petting a dog or cat. In fact, it's been proven more recently that dogs and cats' blood pressure is also lowered when they are being petted. This is great socialization for the dogs, getting them out of the shelter and meeting people in a normal setting. And it's just possible that a dog will find his forever home month the visitors.

Bubbles Shows off his Adopt Me vest
"The close partnership that we created with Charlie's Angels is a perfect example of our commitment to community and family," said John McKibbon, Chairman of McKibbon Hotel Group. "Our guest response has been overwhelmingly positive, generating numerous successful adoptions and uniting families with a new best friend. We are looking forward to expanding this initiative and teaming up with local pet shelters at all of our new lifestyle hotels being developed throughout the country."

McKibbon Hotel Group's contemporary dog-friendly lifestyle hotel, Aloft Asheville Downtown, collaborated with CAAR as their quarterly community service project. The goal is to help find permanent homes for several CAAR dogs, rescuing pets from possible euthanasia at area shelters. As guests arrive at the Aloft Asheville Downtown, a dog will welcome them from behind the registration desk dressed in an "Adopt Me" vets. Guests can interact with the dog during check-in as well as at the hotel lounge and additional designated areas.

Since the program launched in August 2014, over 20 dogs have found permanent and loving homes. "We hope to save over 100 dogs in 2015 with our partnership with the McKibbon Hotel Group, " said Kim Smith, president of CAAR. "The dogs are set in a natural environment which gives guests one-on-one interaction versus a rescue facility where only 1 out of 10 dogs have a chance of being adopted. A single dog receives much more exposure while increasing their chances."

The Hotels are beautiful and certainly made much more welcoming by the presence of the dogs.

Who could possibly resist that happy face?

With the success of the program currently underway, additional McKibbon Hotel Group properties have taken action to support local pet shelters in the community. Aloft Greenville Downtown has chosen to partner with local rescue and rehabilitation facility, Pet Tender Angels (PTA), Aloft Tallahassee will partner with Last Hope, and Homewood Suites Tampa Westshore will partner with Paws of Hillsborough County, Inc. (PAWS)

"Our partnership with Charlie's Angels Animal Rescue is and example of our commitment to community and family," said John McKibbon, Chairman of McKibbon Hotel Group. Our guests' responses have been overwhelmingly positive, generating almost one adoption per week and uniting families with new best friends. We plan to expand our pet adoption program to our other lifestyle hotels."

It's hard to imagine anything more enjoyable than going to a wonderful hotel, being greeted by a canine behind the desk and, perhaps, bringing him home with you - a wonderful new family member to add to life's joys. That would certainly be a vacation to remember.

You can learn more about The McKibbon Hotel Group by going here:

Aloft Asheville Downtown:

Charlie's Angels Animal Rescue (CAAR):


Aloft Ashville Dog Playpen
Gremlin helping guests check in

Jackson is all set for chillier weather
You may want to start planning your next vacation now. If this isn't inspiration, I don't know what is!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Cats and Robots

It's Monday. If you're a cat owner, and you're on Twitter, in the Twitterverse today is #MeowMonday. Cat aficionados of all stripes greet each other and give each other shout outs. 

Why am I telling you this? Because this blog has been pretty serious lately, which is a good thing because my goal is to put as much good information out cats and dogs via this blog. Every once in awhile, we all need a little humor which is why I decided to share this HooplaHa ( with you. They call it Cats vs Robots. Robot toys were put down to see how the cats, all Munchkins, by the way, would react. This is a fascinating look at cat behavior and it's also pretty darned funny! Enjoy!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Epilepsy Assistance Dog - Part Two

Daisy Simon

In Part One we learned quite a bit about Epilepsy Assistance Dogs. We explore further now with the mother of an daughter with epilepsy who had to take a different approach and we learn more about how epilepsy can present itself  

Debby Simon is a freelance researcher and writer. Her work has appeared in USA Today online, The Kansas City Star, METROPET Magazine, 913 Magazine, Law Talk, and numerous anthologies. She is currently working on her first novel... about her first dog. Most important is that she Jorie's mother.

"Jorie was diagnosed with JME (Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy) in 2003. She was eight years old," Simon recalls. "She first experienced absence (pronounced ab-sahnce) seizures. This type of seizure resembles daydreaming, so it slipped right by all of us (parents, teachers, siblings, friends) until one winter morning, Jorie and I were alone eating breakfast. Suddenly, with no apparent cause, she startled, jumping what seemed to be four feet in her chair. Her arms flew up over her head. When I asked, "Are you okay?" she didn't respond. She was staring out of the windows. When I asked again, she looked at me, confused. I then asked, "Has this ever happened before?" She climbed up into my lap to hug me and burst into tears and I had my answer. I called her pediatrician who sent us to Children's Mercy Hospital for testing. The diagnosis followed. We were told she had over an 80% chance of outgrowing her seizures. Unfortunately, 4 days before her 9th birthday she had her first tonic clonic (grand mal) seizure. She would not outgrow her condition; her seizures would now all be grand mal, and her condition would only get worse."

Before the Seizures; Jorie and the family's first dog, Rhapsody

When was the decision made that a seizure alert dog would be a good idea?

"Jorie's seizures increased in frequency, intensity and length. Witnessing her seizures was terrifying, especially when we learned about SUDEP (Sudden Unexplained Death from Epilepsy which accounts for 34% of all sudden deaths in children) and status epilepticus (an acute, prolonged seizure lasting more than 4 minutes, or multiple seizures within a short span of time - this is life-threatening.) We felt 'parentally impotent' because there is no cure for epilepsy, so we couldn't find a solution to stop her attacks, nor could we prevent them or do anything remotely helpful. I stopped sleeping, worried she'd seize at night and we wouldn't hear her despite setting up our old baby monitor. Late at night, I'd scour the internet to learn everything I could about epilepsy. That's when I learned about Seizure Assistance Dogs. I was a bit surprised that our neurologist didn't mention this. We are a dog-people family so learning about these special dogs and how one could alert us if Jorie started seizing seemed like a great solution. But then we learned that the cost for a professionally trained seizure assistance dog was over $10,000. This was not an option for us. I then learned of a non-profit that trains seizure dogs for individuals/families who need them; it accepts donations. We eagerly applied. It's an involved process," Simon recalls. "We learned that the wait period was 'at least five years.' We were back to square one. Shortly thereafter we lost our beloved Sheltie who had been a member of our family for almost 15 years, and all of Jorie's life. It was a very difficult time."

Somehow things seem to happen because they are meant to be.

"When the grief of losing Rhapsody eased, Jorie begged us for a Golden Retriever puppy, but we held off, still hoping for a seizure dog. We'd never been without a family dog for such a long period of time. Meanwhile, Jorie's seizures continued. I'd call the organization every few months. Each time I was told, 'You are still at least 5 years out.'

One day a dear friend phoned, 'There is an animal foster person with an almost 13-month-old Golden Retriever who needs a home. She's already received a lot of responses so if you are at all interested, you can't wait. The dog's housebroken. Do you want the number?' It was Jorie's decision. I warned her that even if we saw the dog, and she wanted it, there were no guarantees because others were interested. Jorie was now approaching her 13th birthday. She said, 'I want to see this dog. We are the same age.' We drove to the foster caregiver's home and sat on her couch. She then brought Daisy into the room, telling us she had been abused as a puppy and that she was very skittish with new people. She kept talking while the dog sat next to her. Jorie's patience ran out - she wanted to pet the beautiful, small red-coated dog. She looked at the dog and simply said, 'Here, Daisy.' The dog did not show an ounce of skittishness; she immediately walked over to Jorie. The foster care person stopped talking, apparently stunned. She watched as Daisy stood looking at Jorie while Jorie hugged and petted her. 'She has never, ever done that before,' the woman said. I believe that Daisy somehow sensed that Jorie and our family needed a four-legged, tail-wagging friend. The stunned woman had us sign some papers and we brought Daisy home."

Daisy & Jorie; Daisy's first days at home

There is still the issue of training.

"Daisy already knew a few basics: sit, stay, lay down, stay. Jorie and I worked together to further expand her repertoire. With regard to training her to help with seizures, we did the following: Daisy sat next to me in the kitchen. Jorie went into the hallway and laid on the floor without moving. I then told Daisy, 'Go to Jorie.' She didn't understand the first time, but Jorie was in sight. I repeated, 'Go to Jorie.' Jorie then called 'Daisy.' I nodded my head and repeated, 'Go to Jorie.[ We kept it simple and Daisy got it. She went to Jorie. We repeated this drill and each time, Jorie would increase the distance from the kitchen to where she would lay down. Each time Daisy did what we asked, she received a treat and an abundance of positive pats and accolades. Jorie no longer needed to say Daisy's name. Daisy knew exactly what 'Go to Jorie' meant. We then furthered this training by turning it into a game. I kept Daisy with me in different rooms of our home while Jorie found places to hide, lying on the floor in other parts of the house. I then said, 'Go to Jorie.' Daisy got this down very quickly and, as always, was rewarded with treats, accolades and major pats and hugs when she found Jorie. Daisy still loves to play hide and seek.

How did this translate when Jorie had a seizure? Not well the first time," Simon admits. "Jorie had a seizure in the front hall one morning right before leaving for school. Daisy watched as I went into protocol, timing the seizure, putting something soft under Jolie's head, moving things out of Jorie's way for her safety, and gently turning her onto her side. The seizure was still going at five minutes, which meant I needed to call 9-1-1. When the paramedics arrived, Daisy, the supposedly skittish dog, went into protection mode. She barked viciously at them, adding to the chaos. I grabbed her collar and put her outside so that the paramedics could do their job. She whined and scratched at the door.

Daisy and Jorie - love at first sight

Jorie was post ictal (the period right after a seizure) and the paramedics finished making sure she was okay. They moved her to the nearby couch where she endured her typical post-seizure migraine and, because such seizures tax the heart, she had to sleep. The paramedics left and I let Daisy back into the house. She raced into the front hall, saw that 'the intruders' were gone, and then without any direction from me, went directly to Jorie and laid down on the floor right next to her. She didn't leave Jorie's side for the more than three hours that Jolie slept. This became Daisy's routine. After a seizure Daisy would lie quietly by Jorie's side. She stopped barking at the paramedics during the other times they had to come, but she remains very threatening to other strangers. Also worth mentioning, I was in the kitchen making breakfast, Jorie was upstairs in her room. I didn't hear the floorboards creaking, my signal she was getting dressed for school. I called Jorie but she didn't answer. Daisy raced up the stairs before I ever asked her to 'Go to Jorie.' I ran up the stairs behind her. Jorie as on the floor seizing. I think Daisy connected the dots and when she heard Jorie seizing, she ran to her. She stayed out of my way, waiting to do her part - keeping watch over Jorie post seizure."

Daisy has obviously made a difference in Jorie and her family's life.

Jorie and Daisy, post-seizure

"It is difficult to verbalize and consolidate how much this amazing, wonderful, loving and intelligent dog changed all of our lives. She brought joy, laughter and light back into our home. She bonded with our family and especially with Jorie. Of particular significance, her presence after a seizure has been very calming to Jorie. Sometimes during post-seizure sleeping, Jorie's arm would drift down and her hand would rest on Daisy's back. Daisy kept Jorie's spirits up. Though she was mostly Jorie's dog, she was still our family's dog, and she loves all of us. Her sense of humor spreads laughter to everyone witnessing it. Her favorite routine if I'm working and she wants attention and isn't getting it: she will find out of my shoes. put it in her mouth and streak past me, knowing full well I'll be forced to engage to claim my shoe. I know this is one of those 'you have to be there' bits but it is always hilarious! And it wouldn't surprise me at all if, when she does this, she's thinking to herself, 'Ha! Just who is the retriever now?' We are extremely fortunate that this wonderful dog came into our lives and we are grateful every day - even when she's not perfect. She became Jorie's best friend and confidant at a most critical time. My favorite heartwarming moment took place each afternoon when Daisy would ride with me to pick Jorie up from school. The moment Jorie would approach the car, Daisy would do  her happy dance. Her large tail wagged most of her body and she made happy sounds in her throat. Jorie's eyes would light up and she would often ride in the back seat in order to sit next to Daisy. I believe this wonderful dog has some sort of a canine sixth sense; she knew we needed her as much, if not more, than she needed us."

When I asked if there was something else she would like to say, the response was definitive; she wanted to share some information about epilepsy which she calls "The Black Sheep" of neurological conditions. It affects dogs, and almost all mammals.

Impish Daisy with a shoe, ready for a game

"Epilepsy affects more people than Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy and Parkinson's disease combined, yet receives fewer federal dollars per patient than each of those.

  • An estimated 3 million Americans live with epilepsy, and each year 200,000 new cases are diagnosed.
  • 2.2 million troops have served in Iraq and Afghanistan; it is estimated that 440,000 of these soldiers will experience traumatic brain injury (TBI) and more than 100,000 of them will likely develop post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE).
  • Please, please, please take the time to learn about epilepsy - particularly first aid for seizures. There are many types of seizures. Here's a link that provides a good starting point for seizure first aid:
  • To read more about our family's experience, here is a link to an online article written in 2010:

Jorie started seeing an Epileptologist in February 2009, she was admitted to a Level 4 epilepsy center.   She was put on a new drug that has since been determined to be the best for her type of seizure. She was seizure free for 5 years. She is now in College!

Thanks to Debby Simon for sharing her family's story. I believe we can all learn something from it.

Jorie as a High School Senior with her BFF, Daisy

Monday, March 9, 2015

Epilepsy Assistance Dog - Part One

The numbers are astounding. Approximately 2.3 million American adults and 476,711 children and teenagers are living with epilepsy today. Epilepsy is a seizure disorder that takes its toll on the person who has it and their family members as well, both physically and emotionally. People with epilepsy often feel depressed, isolated and lonely. The family members and caregivers feel stress, anxiety and worry. If you've seen someone have a seizure you will understand immediately why this is so.  As is true in so many instances, dogs are often amazing assistants for those with epilepsy and seizure disorders.

One place to turn for information about Epilepsy Assistance Dogs is Magnolia Paws for Compassion ( Their program highlights a number of illnesses where dogs can help people, particularly epilepsy and seizure disorders. 

The Program was created by Eisai, Inc., U. S. subsidiary of a Japanese pharmaceutical company, which seeks to increase access to assistance animals and raise awareness about them. They have partnered with the Epilepsy Foundation and 4 Paws for Ability, a non-profit organization focused on the training and placement of service dogs with children and veterans, to highlight the support service dogs give to people with epilepsy or seizure disorders.

Madison Landers experienced her first seizure at 18 months and went on to experience many seizures, some lasting as long as 5 hours. Madison is now eight years old and has a seizure assistance dog, Viva, through 4 Paws for Ability. Viva not only alerts the Landers family to seizures but provides Madison with comfort, independence and companionship.

Blanca R. Vazquez, M.D. is an Attending Physician in Neurology and Director of Clinical Trials and Outpatient Services at the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at New York University Medical Center. She is an expert regarding the specific needs of people living with epilepsy and seizure disorders. Dr, Vazquez was kind enough to take time from her busy schedule to answer my questions.

Dr. Blanca Vazquez

"Epilepsy is a chronic condition that is characterized by unpredictable seizures. One issue patients face is that seizures are unpredictable and they can happen anywhere. Safety is a big concern for families and patients living with epilepsy as well as social isolation and fear. Having a dog can help with many of these issues by providing a sense of structure and companionship. Additionally, interaction with animals has also been shown to relieve stress and improve depression, anxiety and pain," said Dr. Vazquez.

"Caregivers often experience stress and anxiety, especially about leaving people with the condition out of their sight. Some dogs have been trained to bark or alert an individual's family when they are having a seizure, which can provide peace of mind for families who are constantly worried.

"Interaction with service animals may greatly impact the quality of life for patients living with epilepsy and their families beyond what can be measured," Dr, Vazquez adds.

Karen Shirk is 4 Paws for Ability's Executive Director. 

"At 4 Paws 90% of our dogs are purpose bred," said Shirk who responded to my questions about the dogs. "These are dogs specifically bred by 4 Paws to perform certain types of jobs.  Our dogs are bred for health, temperament and longevity. Many of the dogs we use for breeding are second and third generation 4 Paws breeding dogs. This means that their mothers/fathers, and even in many cases their grandparents were 4 Paws breeding dogs. These are dogs which were held back from service dog training to produce more puppies for 4 Paws, selected as the cream of the crop from their litter and many times because their parents produced amazing service dogs with special talents like scent work."

I asked how 4 Paws meets the needs of children with seizures.

"It means training a dog that is unique in what it does for each child. Most agencies will not work with children, especially very young children. At 4 Paws we have no minimum age requirement and believe fully in early intervention.

Karen Shirk and Piper

The Seizure Assistance Dog can do the following:

Alert the parent to seizure activity at least during the seizure and most of the time before the seizure occurs.
Provide a measure of comfort for the child.
Provide a distraction during uncomfortable medical procedures, such as blood tests.
Be used during a therapy session to enlist the child's participation.

In addition, children with seizures may be afraid of being alone, sleeping in their own beds, and engaging in activities because they might have a seizure. In these instances, dogs can give the children a little courage while helping them maintain their independence.

Sometimes a child who has extensive seizures must wear a helmet to protect from falls when playing on the playground. Or while playing with neighborhood kids, or during school recess. This could, and often does, lead to isolation. The children who lack understanding of the child's "difference" from them often avoid the child who experiences seizures. Even young children that do have friends may find themselves left behind by their peers as they get older if the seizures limit their activities or result in cognitive delays. But few children don't like dogs and the miracle that occurs when a child with a disability enters the playgrounds with their service dog is amazing. The service dog breaks the ice. Children will come to pet the dog and in doing so there is an opportunity to get to know the child and understand her disability rather than avoiding her.

Seizure Assistance Dogs are true service dogs and are allowed to go everywhere the child goes as long as an adult team member is with them (someone trained to handle the dog for the child), Shirk explained.

Essentially the dogs are trained by 4 Paws to recognize a chemical change in the body. It's a remarkable and complex process that is based on individual needs and experience of the specific child who will receive the trained dog. Seizure Assistance Dogs are typically trained for 12 - 18 months, and these service dogs are actually trained to do many things in addition to alerting to seizures. For example, many 4 Paws seizure assistance dogs are also trained to help provide stability and balance for children after a seizure, which can lead to an increased level of independence," said Karen Shirk.

For more information on Magnolia Paws for Compassion, point your browser to:

In Part Two you'll meet another seizure assistance dog who was trained differently. Curious? Watch for my next blog post.