A Service Dog for When Mom’s Not Around Every Day

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by Lori Dunham |

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My daughter, Grace, is an animal lover, always wanting to rescue the homeless or sheltered dog, the stray cat, or the random gerbil that needs a new home. So it was no surprise to me when she asked about getting a service animal after she was diagnosed with Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS).

Grace gets help getting out of bed and with carrying her books into school, but I know she is looking ahead to when that won’t happen, after she graduates high school and goes off to college — when she will be more independent.

One of Grace’s teachers volunteers at Canine Companions, and she encouraged Grace to look into a mobility service dog. Service dogs are trained in many different areas: some as medical assistance dogs, others as seizure response dogs. There are dogs trained for visual and wheelchair assistance, and still others become diabetic and hearing dogs. Grace would need a brace and mobility support dog if she were to get a service animal.

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Brace and mobility support dogs help people with impaired balance, gait, or coordination, all issues for people with LEMS. Bracing dogs must be large enough to support their handler. They typically weigh more than 55 pounds and often wear a specially-fitted harness that helps them assist their owner.

Service dogs can help someone regain their balance and help prevent them from falling. The dog can carry items if a person is too weak to hold them, and since service dogs are allowed in many places, they can assist in the grocery store and other areas. 

There is a lot of information out there about service animals. We are still doing our research, but it has given Grace some ideas about how a service animal could help her. It might not happen, but it has been good to see her being pro-active and looking for new solutions.

Have you met anyone with LEMS with a service dog? Please share in the comments below.

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Note: Lambert-Eaton News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lambert-Eaton News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Lambert-Eaton myasthenia syndrome.

 

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