“When we first got the idea for a service dog it was simply for mine and Jon’s benefit. Honestly. I specifically was absolutely exhausted. I had a level of trauma from watching Blake seize at night and being scared to miss one. At one of our neurologist appointments we were told about SUDEP. Sudden unexplained death in Epilepsy. It was a nonchalant conversation about how kids with epilepsy just die in their sleep. Like it’s no big deal. Almost DAILY I see a post in a parents of kids with epilepsy group of another child dying in their sleep from a seizure. Let that sink in for a second. The chances are substantially higher because 95% of Blake’s seizures are during his sleep. I was terrified of not watching him on the monitor all night long. For months I was watching him until midnight and then setting hourly alarms to make sure he was breathing. I was exhausted. I was teaching, taking care of two kids, and trying to just not totally lose my mind. So the dog was for our benefit.
Then as Blake started to get older, he began experiencing more and more issues. Behavioral, developmental, and educational. Jon and I were worried about what his future was going to look like. And we honestly still are. But I want to just give you a little insight behind the scenes.
Blake today attended his speech therapy for the first time with Barnett. Honestly his therapist is amazing, and so we weren’t concerned. However, she in the last few months has asked us to no longer sit in there because Blake was struggling with our presence. So as I drove Blake to therapy today, I was worried about how it was going to go because I can’t leave Barnett alone. We all compromised and I left the room but sat right outside the door watching their session on a camera. I knew if I needed to do anything at any point I could simply open the door and step in. But I never had to. Blake told Barnett to ‘sit’ and ‘down’ and Barnett essentially slept the entire session. Blake was SO proud when it was done. ‘I able to do Barnett whole time!’ Independence.
Additionally, everywhere we go now Blake says to anyone that stops us, ‘this is my service dog! He is a boy. His name is Barnett.’
Those sentences are truly amazing for a kid who was essentially not speaking a year and a half ago. He was talking in two to three word phrases. He would never ever talk to someone in public because he was afraid they couldn’t understand him. But now he’s excitedly walking up to strangers and introducing himself.
Blake also has been melting down multiple times a day for numerous reasons. Either we can’t understand him, he is unhappy about something we did or simply because his brain is just totally overloaded. And now Blake has the ability to say ‘I need Barnett.’ And so we place Barnett over and Blake is able to calm himself down within a matter of minutes. Previously it could be two hours long of him crying and refusing to do anything. And now we’re stopping the issue in a matter of minutes. MINUTES.
So while Barnett may have been for my benefit at first, he is 100% for Blake’s benefit now. He is Blakes independence and chance at being a ‘normal’ kid.
The added benefit is that I just now get to sleep at night, too.
So while I know I have thanked and thanked everyone until your blue in the face, I just want everyone to truly see what a daily difference he is making for Blake and our family. I never could have expected the bond between a boy and a dog to come so naturally so quickly but it has. Barnett in the movie Nashville (that he’s named after) is known for caring about everyone’s health and well being. So how absolutely fitting that he is now taking care of Blake’s health and well being. A miracle worker with 4 legs.
….also, since I get asked this every time we go out he is absolutely worth every single penny of those $17,000. Promise.”
Written by the mother of Blake and Barnett
A service dog team since August 2022