“We lived in a constant state of worry not knowing when a seizure would happen.”
Jenka and Kyle have faced unique challenges since their daughter, Leah, was diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder as a toddler. “Leah was a pretty social toddler who became very meek and shy. She would worry about having seizures to the point that it would induce more seizures,” says Jenka.
While the problem seemed hairy, the solution turned out to be furry. “We noticed how she wouldn’t have as many sensory problems when our friends had their dog around,” Leah’s mother, Jenka, says. With their family living on base military housing, they began the research into getting a service dog but decided to wait.
However, their lives changed in 2014. Jenka remembers, “We were in the hospital in October of 2014. I didn’t know what to do. Leah had been diagnosed with epilepsy.” On a tearful call with a friend, “She reminded me that two years prior we had looked into 4 Paws for Ability and I got off the phone with her feeling like she had thrown me a lifeline. By the time we were discharged, I had decided we were going to apply!”
While working to get partnered with their life-changing service dog, Leah and her parents welcomed their first 4 Paws dog, Pias, a service dog in training, and began their volunteer journey.
In January 2017, Leah and her family met Ramsey, a task-trained service dog in medical alert, and instinctively trained to be Leah’s best friend. “What started out as a service dog to alert when Leah had a seizure, has turned into a best friend who has my daughter’s back 24/7. He pre-alerts to her seizures, he alerts when she has them, he grounds her and eases our worry, and he’s her constant companion and her absolute best friend in the world and I wouldn’t change a thing,” says Jenka.
Six years later, Jenka says, “Ramsey has alerted and pre-alerted to tons of seizures. He is so reliable that Leah is no longer in a constant state of worry. Ramsey has given Leah the confidence she needed to make friends. My once shy child has turned into a social butterfly who is amazing at public speaking and has no problems answering questions from strangers about her dog,” said Jenka.
Today, with Ramsey by her side, Leah will tell you “The best part of going to school with a service dog are the dress-up days,” and more importantly, she says “Ramsey gives me the strength to make it through bad days. I’m never alone, and that makes me feel better.”