Indianapolis pet senses seizures
When Marce Nelson rescued Sydney, a shih tzu-pug mix, in 2006, the Beech Grove resident didn't think the dog would end up rescuing her on a regular basis. And given that Sydney's blind, she certainly didn't expect him to know more about her own body than she does.
Nelson was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2003, and her legs sometimes buckle without warning. "I kept walkers and crutches around the house in case I suddenly needed to grab something," she says.
Every time she fell, Sydney would come to her side and stay there until she managed to pull herself up or help arrived. Through those experiences, Sydney appeared to develop a sense for precisely when the episodes would take place, often without Nelson's knowledge. "I was lying in bed one day and tried to get up, and he sat to one side and kept growling when I tried to move," she says. "I told him, 'You're just being troublesome.' But I tried to get up and I fell right down."
It took a couple more episodes before she realized Sydney was sensing something. "I'd ignore him, get up, and then go right over," she says.
Soon, she learned he'd sit on her legs if he didn't think she could get up, or growl at her bedside if he thought she was unable to safely rise. Now she waits until she feels ready to move - or Sydney gives the all-clear.
Nelson doesn't know exactly where Sydney, now 8 years old, came from, although she believes he was mistreated. "I had to work with him and show him I wasn't going to do anything," she says. "It took six months to get to the point where I could pick him up."
But within a year, he was constantly by her side and searching for signs of trouble. She believes his other senses have more than compensated for his blindness. "He's very protective," Nelson says. "He's very good at knowing when I'm getting over it, too. If I need to call 911 for help, he'll let them in. But if neighbors come in, he'll get in the way, like he's saying, 'Just stay away from her and she'll be all right in a minute.'"
And what about those walkers and crutches scattered about the house? No longer needed, she says: "I keep a crutch in my living room next to my chair and a folded-up walker, and that's it. Thanks to Sydney, I always know when it's going to happen."
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