I obsess about things. They get stuck in my mind and I just can’t stop thinking about them. So I Google them to death, bore QB with the details (I think he’s stopped listening years ago) and eventually manage to do something about it, push it to the back of my mind, or sometimes realise it was never a good idea in the first place.
I am telling you this because I hope it explains why I’ve got animals on the brain tonight. Dogs mostly, with a few horses thrown in.
This month in Australia is Dogtober – a bit like next month is Movember. Dogtober (for those of you who cannot be bothered to look at the link) is a month dedicated to raising money for assistance dogs.
I’ve been obsessed with assistance dogs since running across some information on them a few months ago. A few organisations train assistance dogs for children and have found that they not only help with doing physical things like picking up dropped objects and opening doors but also provide a calming presence, increase positive social interactions, provide companionship, give the children greater independence and can even interrupt behaviours such as repetitive actions.
Some dogs can also be trained specifically for children who have seizures. These dogs are specially trained to stay with their owner if they have a seizure or can get help on command. The dog can often sense when the child is going to have a seizure and give a warning. It has even been found that epileptic children with seizure response dogs actually experience fewer seizures, although no one is quite sure why this is. Now how amazing is that?!
So (you can probably see this coming) I’m obsessed with getting an assistance dog for Lil Z. I’m a bit shy about calling the organisations I’ve found that provide and train these dogs, mainly because I’m afraid they will think I’m crazy for trying to get an assistance dog for an 18 month old baby. Or that they will tell us we’re not eligible since we’re not Australian citizens – and thus crushing both my obsession and my hope.
Still, I think I like the idea because it would be another source of security for her. One of my main objectives since we first noticed something was wrong (if not before that) is to make her feel secure and safe. I have no idea what goes through her mind, but with poor vision, regular seizures and no communication skills, the world must be a difficult if not frightening place for her
It was easy when she was tiny – we co-slept at night and during the day she was often strapped to my chest in the baby carrier. Now she sleeps in her own bed and is getting too big to be in the carrier for long, but I still try as much as possible to make her feel safe. Having a constant and devoted companion would, of course, help with this. And the fact that I could be alerted when Lil Z was about to have a seizure would also give me a greater peace of mind.
And I’ve always been a believer in the therapeutic effects of animals. I know growing up I often found solace in my horse – both riding and talking to him. I suppose that is why I was so happy to read that hippotherapy (horseback riding for the disabled) is considered very beneficial for girls with Rett Syndrome. Apparently it helps with posture and balance as well as being calming. However, I know that 18 months is too young for riding, so I suspect I’ll have to focus my obsession on seizure response dogs for now.
It may well remain an obsession, although part of my reason for writing this post is to force myself to at least give the organisation a call. So, if you’re reading this, please feel free to ask me if I’ve called yet.
At the end of the day, however, the hardest part could be explaining to Vegemite why, after she has maintained a lengthy lobbying campaign to get a dog, we have decided to get her sister one instead. That’s the kind of thing that she could obsess about for the rest of her life…