Millions of Americans with disabilities rely on hope to get them through each day; hope for a breakthrough; hope for gaining or reclaiming independence; and hope for a friend. Each year, hundreds of them find hope at a handful of organizations across the country that train assistance dogs for people with disabilities. Dogs aren’t just pets anymore – they’re service dogs for the handicapped and for children with other special needs.
For one Golden Retriever dog named Viva, the term “man’s best friend” is a very accurate statement. Viva’s training and instincts were paired together to create a dog who was trained to serve as a guardian for her seizure-prone owner Maddie.
Viva plays an important role when it comes to ensuring the safety of Maddie. Seizures can cause injury and even death due to secondary injuries that occur when a seizure strikes unexpectedly. Viva gives a warning before each seizure, which allows the staff at St. Rita to give Maddie the appropriate medication to stop the seizure from happening.
In addition, Maddie has balance and mobility issues and Viva is specially trained to assist her in tasks she cannot perform alone like helping her stand upright by becoming a counterweight when she starts to fall, and helping her maneuver up and down stairs. In eight short months Maddie and Viva have formed an unbreakable bond.
Since November Viva has alerted the staff at St. Rita four times that a seizure is about to occur and every time the seizure was prevented. Since Maddie is having fewer seizures her academic progress has blossomed, she is no longer losing skills as a result of the seizures and so she is retaining much more knowledge. Maddie and Viva’s story are just one of many that occur in the halls of St. Rita School everyday.
To learn more on St. Rita School for the Deaf and hear more student stories please visit http://youtu.be/E8Qd-6AdgDo