When the seizures started again, Kayla Aolick thought her independence was over.
Aolick, now 20, still suffers from the effects of a brain tumour she had removed when she was 12.
Her seizures became more frequent over the past year. “This summer I had a really bad period with them. I had 43 (seizures) in two weeks,” Aolick said. One of her doctors in Vancouver suggested she apply for a guide dog; the Aolicks had never heard of seizure guides dog before this. Kayla applied for and was accepted into the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides program.
Shadow, a golden retriever, is trained to get help for Kayla when she has a seizure. “If he sees me shaking he can bark for help and someone wil come, or he can go and get somebody for help,” she explained.
“He can grab the phone if I was able to call 9-1-1. He can push those LifeLine buttons.”
This is Kayla’s first experience with a dog, and Shadow has to be with her 24/7. When he is in his harness, he is working. Kayla is required to keep up with Shadow’s training, walk him at least twice a day and ensure he maintains a certain weight.
But the rules are a good tradeoff, both Kayla and her mom agree. “It gives me peace of mind,” says Sheila.
“It’s kind of making things a little bit better. He gives me a lot of independence now,” says Kayla.
“They say dogs are a man’s best friend. He’s always beside me; if I’m having a bad day he’s always there to make me feel better.”