This is Winnie…
I rescued Winne….
But really, Winnie rescued me.
Pets can be a great comfort when processing epilepsy; be it by curling up with you when you are postictal, by providing unconditional love when you most need it, or by giving you something wonderful to care for that is bigger than yourself, so you can focus your energy somewhere other than fearing a seizure that may or may not occur.
In some instances, a pet can even inform you when that seizure may happen.
Seizure alert dogs can be a great asset to people who suffer uncontrolled seizures. Although the costs associated with training an alert dog can be high and the wait for a pre-trained dog long, for some with uncontrolled epilepsy, the cost and wait for an alert dog can be well worth it for the service they provide. For those of us without the need for alert services, a more traditional furry friend comes with many benefits as well.
A study published by Science Direct stated that benefits of dog ownership include companionship and belief that dogs reduce stress and therefore seizures.
Speaking from experience, since adopting my pup in March of 2017, Winnie has been my saving grace. I even think she’s helped reduce my number of epileptic episodes. Although she cannot sense when my seizures are coming, I can. Often times, when I sense an impending aura and start to feel anxious, I am able to stop it in its tracks by distracting my brain and focusing on something else. Winnie is quite possibly the world’s greatest distraction!
It’s hard to stay anxious when this loveable face is looking up at you.
Adopting a pet, particularly a young dog may not be the ideal situation for many people who battle with epilepsy. It can be hard to know just how much training and attention the dog will need, or what their temperament will be due to lack of information about their histories. I will be honest, for as much pleasure and comfort Winnie has brought into my life, she has come with her fair amount of stress too. I only recommend adopting if your seizures are well under control. If you are looking more for a pet to comfort you than a pet for you to comfort, they are out there. Studies have shown that even something as simple as a fish can reduce stress, and elevate moods. With a little research and self reflection, you can find the animal companion that is right for you in the chapter of your epilepsy novel you are currently in.
Do you have a pet who provides you with the love and support needed to be the amazing epilepsy warrior that you are?
I want to see them!
Comment below with a photo of your furry, fishy or scaly friend for a chance for you both to be featured on the blog!