Diane's Diary #15: Seizure Detection Dogs Part 2
Note: This is Excerpt #15 in Diane’s Diary. If you would like to read previous excerpts, you can find Diane’s Diary 1-14 here.
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While the title of this post is Seizure Detection Dogs 2, we will actually be learning a lot more about the whole service dog experience when we start filming and I will share more in future blogs. This is what we know so far. Thank you for being on this journey with me as we learn about the process together.
In our last post, we met Kaitlyn, who got her first epilepsy diagnosis when she was around eight years old. For years she had some warning that her seizures were coming on but that changed a few years ago. Now they come on with zero warning and they are what are called Grand Mal seizures. With other types of seizures, the patient might just seem spaced out. But this type of seizure can cause violent muscle contractions. In fact, Kaitlyn gets a variety of types of seizures making her symptoms more difficult to treat.
In addition to trying different medications,
her neurologist suggested that the family investigate a service dog for Kaitlyn. The family learned about Josh Provides who has helped them through the process; financially, with information, and general support. Different types of service dogs require different levels of training.
A seizure detection dog requires the highest level of training, which, as you might imagine, makes it rather expensive. In fact, while Josh Provides is extremely generous, Kaitlyn’s family has also worked with another organization called the Chelsea Hutchinson Foundation, and Kaitlyn’s mom, Erin has set up a Go Fund Me for Kaitlyn's service dog.
Erin and I spoke on the phone and I asked if I could film the family during this process. They were all on board and we started making plans. I wanted to meet the family before Kaitlyn got her service dog, then again when she got her dog and then again later on to see if and how the dog affected their lives.
We made a plan for me to fly to Florida and start filming Kaitlyn and her family at home in August 2019. I now needed a Florida film crew to help me film. I reached out to a Florida friend and she connected me with someone. But then I struck gold when a cinematographer friend in LA connected me with a filmmaker buddy of hers, named Mike, in Florida. Mike was so lovely when we spoke and while he and his partner work on major films and tv shows, they are also big-time animal lovers and were excited about this project. Mike handles a lot of the tech and equipment stuff and his partner, Theresa, is a producer. Did I say that I struck gold? Not only are they great to work with but they are true professionals.
I started going back and forth with Erin to choose a date as well as with the hospital where the neurologist works. In fact, we always have to get performance releases signed but we also had to get a location release signed for the hospital. This took a lot of back and forth between my attorney and the hospital’s attorney. We finally got a date nailed down.
I then realized that my friend and colleague, Virginia, who founded Canine Commandos is not terribly far from where Erin and Kaitlyn live. In fact, it’s the same town where my film crew lives. I reached out to Virginia and asked if she wanted me to film a mini-documentary while I was there and she enthusiastically said yes! More releases needed to be signed, and another location release needed to get signed for the animal shelter where we would be filming.
Finally, everything was in place and, then… Hurricane Dorian was heading straight for Florida.
Tune in next time to find out whether I got on the plane and flew to Florida, or if we aborted the mission.
**NEW Mini-doc now live!**
If you haven’t yet had a chance to watch our latest 3-minute mini-documentary, here’s a link: