by Janet Finsilver
In Murder in the Wine Country, a rust-colored cattle dog named Rex enters the story. He has been trained to help his owner, a young female chef, before and during her epileptic seizures. While Rex is both a seizure alert and response dog, some dogs only have one title.
A seizure alert dog has an innate ability to know that a seizure is going to take place. It isn’t something a dog can be trained to do. No one knows for sure how they do this, but it is conjectured that the person gives off a scent before the seizure. They are sometimes called seizure predicting dogs.
Each dog has its own way of signaling, such as blocking the person’s path, pawing, pacing, circling, and close eye contact. This gives their partner a chance to prepare. One of the challenges in training is helping the person be able to read when their dog is letting them know of an upcoming seizure.
A seizure response dog has had specific training related to what to do during or after a seizure. Their tasks are specific to each person’s individual needs. When an attack starts, the dog might put its body between its owner and the floor to protect them as they fall or stand next to them for support.
As the seizure begins, the dog might bark to alert family members or trigger a device programmed to call for help. During the attack, the dog might position itself on the ground beside the person. After the seizure, they might get a wheelchair or help their owner get up and walk to a safe place. Many are trained to pick up dropped items, open and close doors, and turn lights on and off.
One article I read started with the phrase, “He’s given me my life” referring to a woman’s seizure dog. In her case, the dog will have a sudden mood change about thirty minutes before an incident. He becomes nervous and begins pawing her and leaning on her. This gives her a chance to prepare for the attack.
Her seizures are so violent that she has broken fingers, collar bones, and feet during the attacks. The woman has taught the dog to keep her children away and, if they are in public, he herds the children to keep them from wandering off. She states, “He’s offered me a chance to have a little bit of normalcy.”
Rex does the same for his owner in Murder in the Wine Country. He is her constant companion—until they are separated.
There is a dog with special training in Murder at the Mushroom Festival. However, I’ve made the decision not to disclose what role he plays because I felt it would be a spoiler.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my “The Dog Knows” series of posts and learning about the many ways dogs contribute to our lives. There are many more abilities dogs have to offer that might come your way in future books.
Please feel free to visit and/or contact me on my author Facebook page and my website.
Weeding out killers wasn’t part of the job description . . .
Kelly Jackson, manager of the Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast, is excited to participate in an event to raise awareness for the plight of struggling veterans in their Northern California coastal community. Local wineries are sponsoring tastings, and to prepare for a culinary competition, professional chefs will forage for wild edible greens. Kelly plans to come along, despite a warning to beware of poachers, who have been stealing the highly valued succulent Dudleya farinosa. The senior sleuths who call themselves the Silver Sentinels join forces with environmental activists known as the Succulent Saviors to thwart the poaching operation. When a consultant for the sale of a local winery is murdered, the poachers are suspected—but so is a wine merchant, Kelly’s friend Phil. As Kelly and the Silver Sentinels attempt to root out the real killer, what she digs up might just put her permanently underground . . .