(BPT) – It’s not difficult to spot Bobo’s red service dog vest. Bobo serves as Danielle “Dani” Kneisly’s seizure assistance dog, and the two are constantly by each other’s sides. However, it is important to look beyond the vest and fully understand the help he brings to 20-year-old Kneisly, her family and those around her. Kneisly has a condition called isolated pachygyria, a neurological brain disorder, which causes recurrent seizures.
At worst, Kneisly has experienced up to 40 seizures in a month, 18-20 a day, causing constant worrying for her family. In the hopes of gaining some peace of mind, Kneisly’s mother, Kim Bish, began researching seizure assistance dogs from 4 Paws for Ability, and soon realized it would be the perfect fit for her daughter. Seizure assistance dogs are specifically trained for those living with epilepsy or seizure disorders and can help alert to its handler’s seizures.
Bobo was matched with Kneisly over four years ago. Bish recalls the instant bond formed between the two when they attended training at the 4 Paws for Ability facility prior to bringing Bobo home for the first time. “He would immediately lay right beside Dani in her bed, and I just knew that he was going to fit in fine.” Bobo is trained to alert to Kneisly’s seizures and can even pre-alert to her seizures. Aside from barking to let those around Kneisly know she’s having a seizure, he will sit or lay on her to prevent her from standing up and hurting herself.
Bobo has provided greater independence for Kneisly and her family. Before, it was difficult for Bish to sleep through the night for fear of her daughter experiencing a seizure while she slept, a common occurrence for those with seizure disorders. Now with the help of Bobo, Bish has peace of mind knowing that Bobo will bark and wake her up if Kneisly is experiencing a seizure. She is also comforted by the fact Bobo can provide her daughter security throughout the night. In addition to alerting to seizures, Bobo assists Kneisly with mobility and helps her walk – one of the many ways service dogs can help serve their owners.
The cost to train and place a service dog with a child with disabilities at 4 Paws for Ability starts at $ 22,000. However, families are required to help raise $ 15,000 to qualify for a free dog. The organization offers a number of tools to help families fundraise, and you too can make a difference by donating to a family working towards their goal or providing much needed supplies to help the organization.
In support of people like Kneisly and her family, Eisai Inc. created the special program, Magnolia Paws for Compassion, which seeks to increase access to animal assistance and raise awareness of the many benefits that interactions can provide to those coping with illness, like a seizure disorder. For more stories like Kneisly’s or to see how you can get involved in bringing awareness to the benefits of animals for those with illness, please visit: www.MagnoliaPawsforCompassion.com.
Beyond seizure assistance dogs, there are many other types of service dogs, including hearing ear dogs, autism assistance dogs, diabetic alert dogs, and facilitated guide dogs, among others. The impact Bobo has made on Kneisly and her family is incredible, and Bish advises that others interested in getting a service dog should do it, saying, “You will not be disappointed at the change it’ll make in your life, and the freedom and peace of mind it’ll bring you.”