Kat and Beau, a Dysautonomia Service Dog Alert Team

January 2nd, 2014 by Carrie, the Just Mildly Medicated gal

As I sit on a wait list for a service dog I have become more aware of the ways my own life will change when my match is ready. Not just the excitement of the call or the trip to meet him or her but also the changes that having my own canine partner with me will bring.

 

I am lucky enough to be part of a large social network that gives me the opportunity to connect with so many people. Kat is one of the people I have connected with and she has been kind enough to share her journey with me and now with all of you.

 

Thank you Kat!

Kat and Beau

 

 

I know you suffer from Dysautonomia but the illness can be so different from person to person. Can you share with us how Dysautonomia has impacted your life?

 

“Dysautonomia has impacted my life greatly. My symptoms started when I was just 9 years old. I would pass out on occasion but doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with me. Since my symptoms weren’t too bothersome, I began competitive swimming and was ranked in my state. Swimming was something I loved and planned on doing through college. At age 16, I had a tilt table test done and when I passed out, my heart stopped for 28 seconds. I was diagnosed with Neurocardiogenic Syncope and had a pacemaker implanted. We believe the surgery triggered my Dysautonomia and caused my symptoms to intensify.

After my surgery, I began passing out daily- 5 to 10 times. I unfortunately had to quit swimming because my symptoms became so extreme. Early this year, I saw a specialist who officially diagnosed me with Dysautonomia, POTS, and Gastroparesis. Day to day, syncope is my most bothersome symptom because it greatly limits my independence. I often require the use of medical devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, and shower chairs. I’ve seen many specialist for my conditions and none of them really know what to do with me. Two cardiologists have officially said that I am the most complicated case they’ve seen. For most, medicine does the trick. 

 Many people ask me how I can go through all of this with such a great attitude and I just tell them about all of the amazing people I have met along this journey and the many blessings I have received that I wouldn’t have otherwise like Beau.”

 

What originally made you think you pursue a service dog?

 

“My grandmother heard from a friend about a one of a kind dog alerting to syncope. Most medical alert dogs alert to diabetes, seizures, and allergies so syncope is new to the service dog world. I was turned down by multiple organizations until I finally found one willing to experiment and try to train a dog for syncope. “

 

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing pictures of Beau before today and he is an adorable labradoodle. What was the process like to chose Beau?

“Beau’s trainer prefers to work with labradoodles not only because they are loyal and loving dogs, but because they are also hypoallergenic. The breeder did an aptitude test on the puppies to see which ones would be good for service work and that’s how Beau became mine. I couldn’t imagine having any other dog be my hero. “

 Blog Kat1

 

What types of things will Beau do to assist you?

“At an early age of only 11 weeks old, Beau alerted to a syncopal episode and has been doing so ever since. That in itself is a miracle but Beau will learn much more. He will be able to pull my wheelchair, help retrieve dropped items (bending over causes syncope) get help when needed, and much more. He is amazing and will help me to gain my independence back. My hope is that I will be able to attend a college with him rather than doing online courses.”

What is Beau learning right now?

“Beau naturally began alerting to syncopal episodes when he was just 11 weeks old. Ever since then, he has hasn’t missed an episode. Right now, Beau is working on a multitude of things. He already has all of the basic commands down and even knows them in sign language. So the next step for him is to learn the more specific commands that I need him to know.”

 

You are able to share time with Beau during his training so you are getting a taste of what daily life with a service dog will be like. What would you say has been the biggest adjustment to life with a canine partner has been so far?

 “The biggest adjustment to having a service dog at your side is learning to deal with people. Many will stare and some will even make comments. Some of those comments will be positive, and some will be negative. It’s also really hard when you are dealing with an employee who doesn’t know ADA law and tries to tell you that your dog is not welcome. This is all the more reason why we need to spread Service Dog Awareness!”

Beau at work

Beau at work

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21 Responses

  1. Leona says:

    This is a great story. I’m constantly amazed by what dogs can be trained to do. I have POTS, and thankfully my symptoms are somewhat controlled by medication. My dog, while not trained in any way as a service dog, is alert to my condition. When my heart rate gets too high or when I’m extra fatigued, he will indicate to me that I need to lie down. He runs into my bedroom and jumps on the bed, and continues to do so until I go lie down. It took me a while to figure out that’s what he was doing, but now I try to listen to him. I’m happy that Kat has Beau in her life and I hope that you will get a dog soon, too.

    • It is amazing what dogs can do for us! My goldendoodle alerts but is so excited and distracted by anything new that she isn’t really cut out for service dog work but I am so thankful to have her love and assistance. I am glad your pup is tuned into you as well Leona.

      ;)
      The Just Mildly Medicated gal

  2. Lindsay says:

    love this story! i’m a huge dog lover – service or otherwise – but think it is truly amazing the way dogs can be trained to help their owners. i think we completely underestimate dogs. thanks to Kat for sharing her story – so happy she has a wonderful dog that provides freedom and companionship.

    and – how cute is Beau?!! :)

  3. hayley-eszti says:

    What a great story. Service dogs are so amazing and clever, not to mention cute! Thanks to Kat for sharing this, does she have a blog?

    Happy New Year to you and your family Carrie, I hope it is a good one, and health wise all is as well as it can be!
    xxx Hayley-Eszti

    http://www.hayleyeszti.blogspot.co.uk

  4. Lisa Ladrido says:

    Another hero in my opinion! What a great story and he is adorable!

  5. Pam says:

    What a touching and inspiring story. I have Occipital Trigeminal Neuralgia, along with some(not yet accurately diagnosed) illnesses. Every so many weeks I end up using a cane to walk, due to a bad back, and aching feet, legs etc. I know one day I will end up in a wheelchair, and when that happens, I sure hope I can have a positive attitude and a great influence on others like you do.

  6. Em says:

    Amazing story. My best friend has Mito and Dysautonomia and her dog alerted to her without them teaching Sam anything. He also began to alert to me too. That’s what got us looking into getting me a service dog foras I have dysautonomia, eds and rsd. Any tips in where you got your cutie?

  7. Service Dog Kyi says:

    Your story is very touching…
    I have 2 Service Dogs as well; and share the same experiances you describe!!!
    Just recently had news story on this Exact Issue on WLTX in an Effort to raise Service Dog Awarness…

    See Facebook: SERVICE DOG KYI or JAKEJACOBSJR
    All the Best too YOU & BEAU!!!

    Jake

    • Kristine says:

      Do you handle both service dogs at one time? I currently have a 3 year old sheltie who is my asthma and allergy alert service dog. He started alerting me when he was just 4 months old. The whole experience of working with a dog through training and now as a service dog has been life-changing! I am now considering a larger dog for mobility support and would love to hear about other people’s experience with handleing 2 dogs at once.

  8. Heather says:

    I LOVE HOW YOU ARE getting a service dog for something not as common. My friend has a dog for chrohns and I have one for seizures. Can I just say that your dog is ADORABLE!!’ Did your trainer get him from a breeder?

    • Annette King says:

      Hi
      My 19 year old daughter has POTS and Syncope and has been passing out alot at college. We live in Maryland, she goes to school at University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY. We are looking for a service dog for her. Her POTS Dr highly recommends it. Where did you get your service dog from ?
      We live in Maryland but are pretty close to DC, VA and part of PA. Thanks
      Annette King

      • Jordan Cox says:

        Howdy Annette.

        I am 19 as well with POTS, Syncope, and several other conditions. Currently I am looking at getting a service dog for the syncope and have the same question. Where did ya’ll get your service dog? I’m currently researching Canine Partners for Life as well as MADE in Texas Dogs. Thank you so much for this article Just Mildly Medicated! Service Dog awareness is very important!

  9. cra_z_ladi says:

    I’m the mother of a 14yr old who was just handed the diagnosis after years of being told by doctors that it was just puberty and that she’d grow out of it. She’ll adjust. She did it with her Scoliosis and full spinal fusion. I am greatly concerned that she’ll have an episode when no one is around to help her. It gives me hope to know that something like this could be available. Thank you for sharing your story. ♥

  10. Alice says:

    Hello, it was really lovely to read about the impact a service dog has had on your life, I suffer from POTs as well as two other disabilities I know that a service dog would greatly benefit me physically and also emotionally. But to be honest there doesn’t seem to be any services around me that are offering any or have any open waiting lists at all, I would probably be happier with a private trainer than a company to be honest but there’s just no options out there. Where abouts do you come from/ where did you apply for yours? And any advice? Thanks.

  11. ilse angel says:

    Hi, I suffer from Trigeminal Neuralgia, never occurred to me the possibility of having a service dog until now, that episodes returned 😓. I feel so frustrated and disappointed knowing that we are not consider by certain Guide Dogs Associations to be a person in need of a service dog. TN is a painful illness who suffers it knows that it can make your life not only miserable but incapable of functioning even in the simplest tasks in life. I sometimes feel embarrassed when I get zapped in a public place and people look at you as if you were faking it! Simply because they don’t understand or what it’s worse they don’t know about TN. I would like to know if Beau’s trainer trains dog for Trigeminal Neuralgia disease. Thank you for sharing your story.

  12. Susan lamar says:

    I’m on full disability now. I’ve been diagnosed with p.o.t.s. And inapporiate sinus tachycardia syndrome. I want to start the process of getting and working with a service dog. I’m not sure I could every afford one. But Ive got to try

  13. Laurie says:

    I love your story. I too am amazed of what a dog can do. I am a 49 year old female that had a heart attach in 2011 that was cause by a spasm to the heart, ever since than I have had many episodes of high and low heart rates followed by near syncope episodes. With many visits to the hospital and doctors offices between 2011 and now, I finally have a diagnosis that will hopefully make a difference for me to move on with a somewhat normal life style. I was a volunteer fire fighter, rescue diver and EMT and I had to give all of that up. I have been diagnosed with Neurocardiogenic Syncope and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrom (POTS). Many years ago, I was part of a K9 Search and Rescue Team, so I am very familiar of what a K9 is capable of. Now, reading your story makes me want to reach out and explore the options of getting a service dog. The labradoodles are one of my favorite breeds. Where do I start… Thank you for sharing your story.

  14. Megan says:

    I have been suffering with POTS for almost 6 years and I leave for college in the fall. I was told by my doctor to look into getting a service dog to help with my balance and a handful of other daily activities that I cannot physically do. I live in Tennessee and I was wondering what some of the more reliable service dog places were.

  15. Beth says:

    Beautiful article, and I’m so glad for all those referred to here and hope your service dogs really help! My service dog will be ready to come to me from Florida around September and is primarily being trained for PTSD and mobility…mobility bc I’ve had POTS symptoms for years and years and never known it might b e it’s own, actual thing! So I hope to get tested very soon, I have practically every symptom. This week I’m being tested for PCOS symptoms as well, and I’ve had anorexia for 29 years, so it’s been unclear where the fainting, fatigue and extreme orthostasis has come from.
    This story helps me very much to put things in a new perspecticve, even thinking about the new service dog in a few months.
    LOL. I’ve now forgotten the question I was going to ask you, but I’ll return to ask you when I remember it! Good luck to all!

  16. Mary McCombs says:

    I have been experiencing very low blood pressures while.going through cancer treatments. I have had mu heart stop once for over 30 seconds. I many times have had my blood pressure suddenly drop. A 62/28 or 72/41 is not uncommon for me. I have a sable collie who knows when my blood pressure is low or falling. He comes and stares at me, pushes me to sit if I am standing or walking. I would like imformation on how to get him certified for this. Do you have information on where I can get this done? Mccombsmt@yahoo.com

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