Robyn Block and Seizure Assist Dog Ziggy
By Erin Reyes
After experiencing a skiing accident in 2013, Robyn Block of Good Thunder, Minnesota, developed a seizure disorder and migraines due to a traumatic brain injury. Since then, it’s been a long road to recovery. Teaming up with Ziggy, her Seizure Assist Dog, has been a life-altering step in her journey.
Partnering with Ziggy has “changed my life in a lot of ways for the better,” says Robyn.
Although things are going well for the duo now, Robyn initially wasn’t sure about the prospect of having an assistance dog. Despite the recommendation from her brain specialist to look into an assistance dog, Robyn was at first hesitant to take on another responsibility. “It was difficult when sometimes I just had trouble taking care of myself,” Robyn explains.
However, Robyn had a change of heart and decided to reach out to Can Do Canines for help. She was matched with Ziggy, and after their team training he moved in with her. One of the biggest challenges was relocating Ziggy from the training center to Robyn’s home, showing him that the same rules and expectations still applied in the new setting. So far, it’s been a mutual learning process for the pair that requires intense and constant training, but the hard work has been well worth it.
Since bringing Ziggy home, Robyn’s whole mindset and priorities have shifted—whereas she was preoccupied with her own struggles before, now her main focus is Ziggy.
For his part, Ziggy, a Yellow Labrador Retriever, certainly lives up to his breed. While Robyn jokes that getting his leash is Ziggy’s favorite task, he does much more than that to make her life easier.
Ziggy, whom Robyn calls the “man of my heart,” is equipped with his own personal phone. When Robyn is having a seizure, Ziggy can retrieve his phone or push a button with his nose to alert the neighbors of trouble. “Getting his phone can save me in so many ways,” says Robyn. Ziggy then licks Robyn’s face to help bring her out of a seizure and reorient her.
Furthermore, when Robyn is left fatigued after a seizure, Ziggy helps to revitalize her with his canine energy. When Robyn is plagued by fatigue and dizziness, she has difficulty picking things up; Ziggy is able to come to the rescue. Also knowing that she has to bathe Ziggy or take him for a walk helps “reset” Robyn and draw her focus back to the present.
Robyn hopes that her journey with Ziggy will help inspire those who are considering an assistance dog, or really anyone who is facing a seemingly insurmountable challenge. “Anybody that gets down on their life and has a moment of ‘I can’t do this anymore, I can’t do this anymore,’ you can look at [us as an example] and be like ‘Yes I can.’” Robyn wants to share her experience with an assistance dog and show how beneficial a dog like Ziggy can be. Her goal is to continue helping other “survivors and warriors” like herself.
To the donors and volunteers, Robyn says, “Thank you! I appreciate it. [Ziggy is] amazing.” Robyn is thankful for the time, energy, and monetary resources that went into training Ziggy to be the great help that he is for her.
Robyn sums up her new life with Ziggy simply: “I am pretty lucky to have him—we fit really well together. [And] we’re going to conquer the world.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Puppy Raiser: Mike and Laura Pierce
Special Thanks: The inmate handlers at Federal Correctional Institution Sandstone
Field Trainer: Lynn Davey
You: Thank you for your donations!