7-year-old Evan Moss of Alexandria, Virginia has epilepsy and, says MSNBC, his seizures occur at night without apparent warning. His parents Rob and Lisa have him sleep in their bed since, even if they sleep in their own room with a baby monitor, they can’t tell when he’s having a seizure. The family has wanted to get a therapy dog who would be trained to detect Evan’s seizures. To raise the $13,000 for a dog, Evan’s parents decided to self-publish a book, My Seizure Dog, that Evan had written as part of his application for a therapy dog.
Their idea worked out better than they had dreamed:
Initially, they modestly hoped maybe they could sell 150 at $10 apiece. But Evan has now sold 10 times that many copies of the 26-page My Seizure Dog and counting. As it turns out, none of the profits from book sales needs to go toward the cost of the dog, because donations alone have topped $26,000 — more than twice what the Alexandria, Va., boy Evan needed for his dog. The additional thousands of dollars, plus proceeds from the book, will make up the difference between what four other children’s families have raised and the cost of their service dogs.
As of this posting, Evan’s book is #510 in Amazon’s rankings.
Evan also has a genetic condition, tuberous sclerosis, which causes benign tumors to grow on the brain and other organs. About 25,000 to 40,000 people in the US have tuberous sclerosis and 1 million to 2 million worldwide. Evan had surgery at the age of 4 to remove the tumors after having 300 to 400 seizures a month and was seizure-free for two years, but now is having them again.
An organization called 4 Paws is now training a dog for Evan, which he should get next year. MSNBC says the dog will be a poodle or poodle mix as Evan’s mother has allergies. At first, the dog and Evan will both be sleeping with his parents, until they’re confident about the dog recognizing when he has a seizure.
Evan will be in second grade and, notes MSNBC, writing is — not surprisingly — his favorite subject at school. He’s already planning another book, about life with his new four-footed companion.
Learning how such a dog might pick up on something like a seizure is a reminder to us that such things don’t happen quite “out of the blue”; that there are subtle clues such as a shift in body posture to other physiological changes that an animal would be more attuned to than a human, who tends to look for signs such as verbal calls of distress.
Most of all, huge kudos to Evan for writing a bestseller and making a difference not only for himself, but other children who might benefit from having a therapy dog.
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Photo of service dog by soukop