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AVM Survivors Network

Medic Alert Dog Arrival Imminent

Following two ruptures (one nearly fatal) Jack (11) is getting a medic alert dog who will be moving in with us in 3-4 weeks. It’s been a long 18 months of training for Jack, and a year with this particular dog. Meet Echo. Echo will pick up on any electrical or chemical changes in Jack and if she alerts it’s ambulance to hospital straight away! Jack’s doctors tell me that he WILL have another bleed if they can’t resolve his AVM and that it would be catastrophic! More about that in a couple of weeks. Echo will also ease his fears and anxiety taking him out of himself and making him feel safe.
Funded by the Steve Waugh Foundation who support kids with rare medical conditions.

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He doesn’t love the picking up the poop part of this but adores everything else.

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… I was just wondering what was in the bag and thinking “no… why would anyone take a photo of that?” but it’s great to do all aspects of the work!

I know dogs can help with personal confidence, so I hope it helps, as you say, with that aspect as much as anything else.

It’s great to hear from you,

Richard

Fond memory Richard… I was laughing as I took the shot because I had just been informed that Jack had to do it! I wasn’t allowed to do it for him lol. He has to do EVERYTHING for the dog! That’s what will develop the bond between them.
And oh, she’ll alert. The company who have been working with Jack are the only company in my country licensed to train dogs for medic alert and they have two trainers. If anything we’ll get false alerts when something other than a rupture is happening in Jack.
They’ve also been asked to work with the Customs dogs. If they decide to go ahead with that Jack would have a job when he’s 18 where he can dictate his own hours. At this point he wants to be an astronomer.
The guy working with Jack is a counter-terrorism expert and worked with the elite dog squad in the Israeli Army. Not your usual credentials for sure!

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I think the whole thing is fantastic.

Even if my son had a dog, he’d be having to pick up the poo. Its absolutely the right thing to do to be wholly responsible for the dog. And she looks lovely, too. I’m sure you’ve been the active party in driving for this, so well done you, too! Amazing.

Richard

lol. You’re coming to know me very well.
Someone made an off the cuff comment one day around the middle of 2016 which got me thinking. I called a few dog companies, none of whom could help, until I hit one organisation that told me about a guy who she referred to as the dog whisperer and who could train a dog to do anything!
I gave them a call and we chatted about Jack’s situation. They asked how the other animals in the house were reacting to Jack and when I told them that one of the cats moved to Jack’s bed every night to sleep with him and followed him around during the day following his return from hospital after the first rupture, they said that they could help because there was something the cat was picking up on. If the cat could sense it then a dog could to.
We had a meeting where they assessed Jack and said they could work with him as he had shown an affinity with dogs, listened and took direction.
Then it was time to find the money - found the foundation. Onto convincing the doctors to support my application. Jack suffers the second rupture while his application is being assessed which ironically wasn’t passed onto the team doing the assessment but it didn’t matter anyway. He got the funding.
Training starts - which is teaching Jack how to train the dog. To our knowledge Echo is being trained in a way that has not been done anywhere before. Usually you are training for specific symptoms as with epilepsy. In Jack’s case it has been a lifelong condition that has only reared it’s head twice in 11 years so you can’t train for specific symptomology or while a medical incident is occurring. Echo - chosen because her breed is very smart and she will bond to only one person, will be tasked with not just reacting but assessing what is going on and making the decision as to whether the situation is serious enough to alert.
Fascinating yes? Breaking new ground yet again!
BTW - the cat left Jack’s bed after the second rupture but moved back again a couple of months ago. It doesn’t mean a rupture is necessarily imminent but that he is not well and she’s watching over him.

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Its amazing and I hope they get on great together.

They already do. There’s a photo I can’t publish because it the intellectual property of the foundation paying for the dog that shows how bonded they are already. It’s the way forward and will give Jack a lot of confidence going forward I hope. It’s been a hard road for him but then it’s been a hard road for so many on here.

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An amazing and heartwarming story! Just curious, what’s the breed heritage of that smart and gorgeous dog? (I’m scratching my head … Australian shepherd? Collie? GSP?

Seenie from ModSupport

Hi Seenie. She is a Smooth Collie - Lassie was a Rough Collie. A Smooth Collie’s coat is shorter and they retain more of their working instincts. They are also known as a Scottish or Scotch Collie which gives away their heritage lol. The Wikipedia link with more about the breed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smooth_Collie

Echo started to alert about 8 months ago. Five times she has alerted us 2-3 days before a medical emergency. As the radiation works it is causing irritation and swelling in Jack’s brain causing him to have episodes of vomiting which for Jack could cause a rupture. The first time we were able to manage it at home having stocked up on medication, because Echo told us to. The next two times Jack attended emergency where they had to bring in more stringent medication to control the episodes. The second last time he was admitted for observation with that hospital now saying that he is too complex for them to handle unless he needs stabilisation to be able to get to his base hospital. The last time he was admitted under the watch of the Neurosurgeons should anything drastically change as his vomiting was intense. We and his Neurosurgeon believe a rupture was missed and are waiting on the results of an MRI. He has added a note to Jack’s file now (he wasn’t on duty) that should Jack come in it’s MRI every time. If he isn’t in immediate danger we always opt for MRI as he’s had so much radiation already so keep the CT’s for extreme emergencies.
As for Echo’s alerting, no longer are we caught off guard. We get in medication, we change schedules, we’re ready to act because she’s telling us it’s coming. And Jack’s doctors now all take note of her behaviour in regards to Jack. Jack’s physiotherapist can even tell how Jack is feeling by Echo’s behaviour when he arrives. The more excited she is the more pain Jack is in. She’s excited because she knows he can help.

I should have added, although she was the first dog ever trained for the purpose of detecting brain bleeds of an AVM, there are others now following behind her for other conditions which can cause brain bleeeding.

Christine,

Clearly Jack is a very poorly lad and you work like crazy to look after him but the information about Echo is fascinating and amazing. It’s great you’ve got Echo as a companion dog. Completely amazing!

Very best wishes,

Richard

It’s fascinating to watch Dick! The reason why she was the first dog is prior to that no-one was sure that an animal could detect it. What led to the dog was that when Jack came home from hospital after his first rupture one of the cats moved to his bed and slept there every night. She didn’t leave until he had the second bleed. She then moved back to her old sleeping spot. It was a definitive change in her behaviour. When I first enquired about a dog the organisation asked how the other animals in the house behaved towards Jack. With one cat there was no change but when I told them of this cat they said that they could train a dog. Essentially how it works is that the cat, and now the dog, smell the chemical change in him caused by alterations in his metabolism. We can’t smell it but we don’t have their sense of smell. What is key to this response though is the bond between the animal and the person. Sometimes this forms naturally as with the cat and sometimes it is helped along as with the dog.

Oh and she isn’t a companion dog. She’s an assistance dog (which you might know as a service dog). They are highly trained, cannot be denied access anywhere except sterile areas or food preparation areas and are considered a medical aid. The psychological benefits are a bonus but she has a purpose and that is to alert to changes in Jack’s brain. At first she would alert when he was coming down with a virus or any other minor medical situation but over time has honed it down to just the serious stuff.

I used the wrong term in my rush to read everything you were saying at lunchtime! My inbox went completely mad :rofl:

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lol I wonder why? Who did that to you? <slinks away, not admitting to being the culprit>

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This is just a really cool example of what thinking outside the box can do. It reminds me of a friend in the States who has an adopted son with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. They have a St. Bernard that has been trained (maybe that’s not the right word) to recognize when their son is going into trauma based meltdown mode (kicking, screaming, yelling, throwing things at people, self harm, you name it.) The dog will sense it and immediately start physically intervening - rubbing his big head on the kids shoulders, come up to him sideways and gradually move and urge him to a wall where their son will eventually sit down, while screaming and swearing and all of that, Mr. Dog will stay right in front of him and once he sits down the dog sits “over” his lap and essentially pins him into a 200 lb pillow of softness. No matter what he does, the dog won’t move until he is purposely and vocally given the command, “Mr. Dog, good job, you can get up.” I saw one of their training videos with him once, absolutely amazing. Hat’s off to you and to anyone who can make man’s best friend, man’s best helper.

Now can somebody help my mentally lacking but adorable and cute yorkie poos and a maltese to stop hurting my head by barking so much? To say I’ll jealous would be an understatement!

TJ

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My son keeps me permanently out of the box! World firsts all over with that kid! The number of doctors he has scratching their heads is almost funny :slight_smile:
When I say that she was the first dog trained, that is global, as to others coming behind her, that’s in Australia. I don’t know if it has progressed beyond our borders yet but if so would most likely expect Israel as the company who trained her also do a lot of work there.
In the case of the St Bernard, the response would be trained because of how intricate it is but there are others who naturally develop their own response that works. It is certainly less stressful for the dog if they have a clear way of communicating with the person they are helping. In our case my son’s dog knows that when he gets sick, she gets treats. She doesn’t alert unless he’s not well but the treats may it almost a fun thing for her.
As to your barking pooches lol…have you ever tried a citronella collar or citronella spray? They don’t like the smell so soon get the message. Mind you, you’re up against it with the little dogs. They HAVE to make their presence knows so everybody knows how tough they are lol.

Ever see the Movie Groundhog Day? Tom Hanks starred in it and every day when he wakes up it is Ground Hog Day and it repeats and repeats and as he is realizing what is going on, he gets more daring. My dogs live Ground Hog day. Every single possible solution to their barking works - for 1 to 2 weeks - and then they are like, nah, I don’t think so. It wasn’t nearly as big of an issue before my ears got screwed up.

I do realize it is a Stateside movie but we have enjoyed streaming a number of shows and movies from you all. Been some good stuff.

Cheers,
TJ