A remarkable dog has been presented with a special retirement award by the lifeline telecare provider, Welbeing, in recognition of his long and faithful service to his epilepsy suffering owner, Kerrie Graham of Shawbirch, Telford.
Jara, a 15 year old Labrador/Collie cross, was trained nine years ago by the charity, Dog Aid, to help Kerrie whenever she has a seizure. As soon as one occurs he pulls an alarm cord in her flat that alerts the Welbeing Lifeline control centre who then send for assistance. As well as sounding the alarm Jara is trained to fetch Kerrie’s medication and to bring a special ball on a rope which he can use to help pull Kerrie upright as she comes out of a fit.
“He’s a remarkable dog and he even senses when I’m going to have a seizure before any detectable signs appear. He just comes and sits in front of me and stares at me and I know it’s about to happen,” explains Kerrie.
Forty year old Kerrie has suffered from epilepsy since her teens but was recently diagnosed with POTS Syndrome, a rare condition that was only discovered in the past few years. POTS Syndrome means Kerrie’s body can’t control her blood pressure resulting in dizziness, chronic fatigue and seizures, sometimes brought on by the simplest of movement.
“I’m extremely limited in what I can do physically but having Jara has helped me get out of the house. Two years ago my health deteriorated leaving me with more severe mobility problems but even in his old age Jara gives me confidence to go for short walks.
“I also have my Welbeing Lifeline alarm which I wear on me all the time around the house and garden. The service is so good. They don’t just provide an emergency response, they also encourage me to call them whenever I feel concerned about anything. It’s so reassuring having someone at the end of the line no matter what the problem or the time is.”
Jara has also helped Kerrie indulge in her passion for art. “Having him gave me the confidence to go to a special art class in Telford. I love drawing and painting. I can’t describe how much it means to me to be able to do it. It’s such a release from my restricted life.”
Commenting on the award, John England, regional manager for Welbeing, said; “When we heard Jara was being retired we thought we should do something to recognise him for being such a great friend to Kerrie and a vital link with the service we offer.”
Sadly, at 15 years old, Jara is no longer able to provide Kerrie with the physical support she needs. However, she is too attached to him to replace him so he will end his days in retirement by her side.