Charlie the seizure dog
The Lynch family are overwhelmed by their Great Dane Charlie who has seemed to have a special gift with their three year old daughter. Charlie warns his owners that their daughter Brianna who has epilepsy is about to have an epileptic fit.
It started to become obvious when Charlie their untrained family pet started circles Brianna around 20 minutes before she had a seizure and this became more and more common. He would also pin her against the wall to prevent her falling over during a fit. The family think Charlie has developed a special skill through his own instincts and love for Brianna.
Brianna has had epilepsy from a very young age and has suffered for seizures the majority of her life. Epilepsy can causes fits to occur at any time during the day which cause Brianna to have violent convulsions in which she is at risk of hurting herself and it can also cause her to go into a trance.
Once the owners of Charlie recognised the pattern that was occurring they took a step back to see if this happens every time. Fifteen to twenty minutes before she has a seizure, Charlie starts to get very agitated and panicky staying very close to Brianna, circling her, trying to look after her incase she gets hurt.
“He’s a big boy – it isn’t like he’s agile. When Charlie turns the whole room turns with him,” Ms Scanlan said. “But he has never once knocked her over. I actually don’t know the psychology behind it but, no shadow of a doubt, people are mesmerised when they see him in action. It would actually melt your heart to see them together,” she added.
On one occasion Brianna and Charlie were outside and she had a seizure. Charlie had her by the wall as she was buckled over to the side on top of him and he was just waiting with her until help came. He never leaves her side until someone arrives.
In recent studies, there has been several dogs who have been trained to sniff out cancer and detect a low blood sugar level in diabetic patients however to date there has been no scientific evidence that dogs can predict a seizure of this sort.
The dog charity, Support dog’s trains seizure alert dogs in which they say a trained dog can warning of a seizure 10-55 minutes before it happens and this is an area in which they are concentrating on using both smells and visual changes.
Medical Detection Dog Chief Executive Dr Guest explained only certain dogs that are highly expressive and attentive to humans would be able to become a seizure alert dog, able to detect illness and disease occurring in a human’s body. This is an area that would definitely benefit from more research.
Brianna’s family are currently fundraising to a buy a new electroencephalography (EEG) machine for University Hospital Limerick, in order to accurately diagnose their daughter’s condition.
Do you have an expressive dog or believe that your dog has a skill similar to Charlie’s? We’d love to hear from you.