Thursday, January 22, 2009

This might actually work

What started out as a joke, may become a life saver to me.

On a flight to Alaska I had the good fortune to sit next to a gentleman with a Service Dog (SD). We discussed how he had trained his SD on his own because the waiting list for an SD was so long and the dogs were so expensive. He joked with me that if I had a disability I could train my own dog to be my SD and fly with her at my feet too!

Things that he mentioned peeked my interest and, when I returned home, I did some research on SD and found the information the man had given me was right on. To have an SD, one needs to have a disability, and then train the dog to do one thing to assist the person, no special trainers or certification required. The only disability I have is Dyslexia and there was nothing I could do to train a dog to help me with that.

I continued with my research on SD’s and stumbled across these three words: Migraine Alert Dog. Okay, I was diagnosed with Migraines 30+ years ago, they are a pain, but a disability!? How could Migraines be a disability?!

This lead me to do some research on Migraines which I had never done (if you knew me, you would be surprised I hadn’t researched Migraines before). They are part of who I am, part of my life, they are my “normal.”

Under the guild lines of a migraine raiting scale I saw over and over, my Migraines put me at the level to have a “moderate disability.” Okay, so now I have a disability; now what.?

How in the world does one train a dog to Alert?

More research – turns out some dogs just do it, but more than that, it is owner dependent, owners that are in tune with their dogs notice the slight behavior changes. Some dogs are more obvious, some are very subtle.

This morning was like any other morning, up around 5:30, eat breakfast, feed dogs, let them out, make my lunch, and get ready for work. As I turned to leave the bathroom, I got “that feeling.” The slight subtle feeling that is so easy to ignore, so easy to not even notice, the sensation that tells me I was getting close to a migraine and I’d better take something now before it advances into a full-blown, stay at home migraine. I often miss this signal until it is too late for OTC meds forcing me to take the big drugs!

Oddly, six hours before this, Abby (our 8 month old puppy) woke me. She was being a pest and very needy. She was licking me, licking my pillow, and just could not squeeze herself close enough to me (yes, we are those bad people who let their dogs sleep in bed with them). I thought she may need to go potty, but that wasn’t it. Decided she was just being a pest and we went back to sleep. Was she alerting me? Did she sense that I was coming down with a migraine? If so, this is not only amazing, but a life-saver.

If she can alert me to pay better attention to my body, I can hear my body tell me “you’d better do something to cut this off at the pass.” Two Extra-Strength-Excedrin some time for my body to process it and I was back to my normal self!

It will be interesting when I have my next Migraine to see if she does something odd again.

I may just have my alert dog.

Obedience class starts tonight!

Follow our journey on Abby's blog

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