God tried to give us a heads up that Benton was going to be a beautiful firecracker by giving him a due date of July 4, 2016. But true to form, Benton did things his way and came a bit early. He decided to enter the world on his older brother’s tenth birthday, which happened to fall on Father’s Day that year. Oh, what a gift he was and still is each day.
He looks, and for the most part acts like a developmentally typical two-year-old. He loves all things sports, all things outdoors, animals, Paw Patrol, and Daniel Tiger. Benton doesn’t seem to really walk anywhere, he either runs or bounces to get from point A to point B. He loves his family and wants to know where everyone is when they are not with him. He loves to play and laugh and wants to involve everyone around in whatever he is doing. Both paternal and maternal grandparents have land and big toys with motors to ride on, which is his favorite thing to do.
So now that you know a little bit about Benton, you might be wondering why he would need a service dog. Like I stated before, he looks developmentally on track, and if you were to meet him in person you probably wouldn’t pick up on a few things that those closest to him notice (maybe it’s just a mom thing). But here’s the deal, Benton cannot be left alone. Ever. I know, I know, he is only two and shouldn’t be left alone anyways, but even at night when he is asleep. In fact, Benton can’t even sleep alone, he must be in bed with an adult.
When Benton was nine months old, he had his first seizure in bed late at night. Over the course of three months, he had a total of six seizures and was in and out of the hospital numerous times. He even had a 72-hour EEG done, where they had wires glued to his head for 72 hours. All of this happened before he was one.
He was diagnosed with Complex Partial Epilepsy w/ developmental delays. Benton’s seizures can either be focal or absence seizures, which appear like he is spacing out, but you cannot get his attention. Or they can be tonic-clonic seizures, what used to be referred to as grand mal seizures. During a tonic-clonic seizure, all the muscles in Benton’s body contract or spasm while he shakes or convulses. It is the scariest and saddest thing I have ever seen either of my children go through. After he comes out of his seizure, Benton tends to be lethargic, tired, cranky, and just not his typical self. His postictal state, the days following his seizures, Benton tends to be unsteady on his feet and falls a lot. After one seizure, he wouldn’t pick up a foot and would drag it most of the time he walked for two days.
Benton takes a daily medication and has a rescue medication in case he has a long seizure he can’t come out of or more than one seizure in a row. The medication has controlled his seizures for the most part, but he does still have breakthrough seizures. Due to his age, he is growing rapidly, and the medication dose must change with his weight gain,
The last clonic tonic seizure Benton had happened late at night. He was in bed and I was not in the room with him. When I finally went to bed, he was actively seizing. This seizure required his rescue medication and he ended up in the emergency department overnight.
If Benton had a seizure alert dog, I would have been alerted when the seizure started, possibly foregoing the need of his rescue medication. At 4 Paws, a dog would be trained specifically for Benton. This dog would learn to alert when he is seizing, give reassurance and comfort when coming out of a seizure or in the hospital setting, and give him stability when he is unsteady postictal. The dog would be trained specifically to meet the needs of Benton. The dog would also bring a peace of mind to his parents and other family and caregivers. We all want Benton to be able to live as normal of a life as possible, and having mom sit in the bathroom while you shower your whole life isn’t normal. Benton deserves to sleep in his bed, and as he grows he deserve to gain independence like playing in his room alone or playing in the backyard.
A properly trained service dog can cost between $40,000-$60,000, but at 4 Paws it has its own funding model that helps eliminate some of that cost to help kids get the dog they need. The cost the families raise through fundraising is $17,000 and that starts here. 4 Paws has a great network to help families along the way, and for that we are grateful.
If you are reading this, thank you for taking the time to learn about our little firecracker, our baby bear, Benton. If you would like to help Benton gain independence and a furever friend, your donation would be beyond appreciated. Any amount is a step towards our goal. If you can not donate financially, you could always spread the word about our cause. Make others aware of 4 Paws and what they do and bring awareness of epilepsy and how a service dog can benefit a patient with it.
For more information on what a seizure alert dog can do, check out the link below.
To donate, you may mail checks
** Please be sure to write “in honor of Benton Arias” on the memo line **
4 Paws for Ability, Inc, 253 Dayton Avenue, Xenia, Ohio 45385
Thank you for your time.