Sky and Trigg
In three years Sky’s world was completely turned upside down. She was a partner in an antique shop, combing the area for perfect additions to the store. But in 2005, she had surgery to remove a melanoma. Unfortunately, a reaction to the anesthesia caused a stroke, which entailed months of rehab to recover her mobility and help with cognitive issues. Then in 2006, Sky suffered an ATV accident quickly followed by a fall, resulting in multiple seizures and an extended hospital stay.
Doctors couldn’t definitively say the resulting traumatic brain injury caused the seizure activity. After a number of epilepsy medicines failed to effectively control the seizures, Sky was told they were triggered by anxiety. Thus a vicious cycle began: the more she worried about having a seizure, the more likely she was to have one.
Sometimes Sky gets an “aura” where she sees lights and knows a seizure is coming on. She will then try to get herself into a safe position. But many times they come on suddenly and she collapses with no memory of what happened. “Our daughter, Lacy, and I have come home and we’d see feet sticking out at the top of the stairs,” says Sky’s husband, Scott.
“I work hard on my inner strength. I try to stay calm so I don’t have a seizure in front of people,” explains Sky. Scott adds, “She can hold it together during family events like our granddaughter’s baptism, then as soon as we get in the car she crashes.”
“I want to enjoy life again,” Sky says emotionally. “I can’t even go fishing. [Scott] is afraid to take me on the lake and the lake is right there.” Sky also admits she stopped going in public after a particularly horrible experience at a retail store. “I could feel the seizure coming on so I gripped the cart as tight as I could and cried out for help, but people just stared at me and kept walking.”
Then Lacy met a woman with a Can Do Canines Mobility Assist Dog. The woman told Lacy that Can Do Canines trains dogs to help people with seizure disorders and to watch the video on their website. When Lacy got home she told her parents about the encounter, and they all watched the video of a Seizure Assist Dog helping its client through a seizure. The next day Sky began the application process.
She was soon matched with a regal Black Labrador Retriever named Trigg. During their first training session at the facility, Sky had a seizure. It was evident that Trigg knew she needed his help, but he wasn’t exactly sure what to do.
But Trigg learned that when Sky leans forward and starts to tremor, he needs to get to work licking her face and hands, helping to pull her out of the seizure. He then lays his big head on her lap to keep her grounded.
When doing their public access test at the mall, Sky was beaming. “This is the best day of my life in the last 12 years,” she cried joyfully. “It is the greatest feeling to be able to walk around by myself again. Well, I’m not really by myself—I have Trigg by my side!”
“Her seizure frequency and duration have been reduced greatly with the addition of this wonderful dog. For the first time in years I was able to make an out-of-town business trip knowing that Trigg was on duty,” says Scott. “I’ve had dogs all my life and he is the happiest, smartest, and just an all-around loving addition to our family. Thank you guys so much for this incredible gift.”
“Being home by myself before was quite frightening. [Trigg] makes me more aware of my surroundings. He means safety to me,” says Sky. “He can’t do everything. He can’t make things perfect. He can make me aware and let me know he is there for me and that comforts me. I know he’s there and that [when I have a seizure] it will soon be over.”
“It is amazing all the steps people take to make these dogs what they are. These people that help raise these babies into such great helpers … well they are just amazing!” Sky cries. “Trigg is a part of my soul now and without your help, I would have never felt whole again.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Great Start Home: Chris & Howard Jones
Puppy Raiser: Hanna & Andrew Temme
You: Thank you for your donations!