Everybody likes a good story about dogs and how they can inspire and how they can even save lives. Earlier this week at the University of Minnesota, Crookston, students, faculty, staff and the public got to hear firsthand how Terri Krake's 4-year-old dog Brody helps her with everyday life.
Krake, of Minneapolis, seems like an enthusiastic and able-bodied person, but in reality, she suffers from seizures from time to time because of an injury she sustained when she was younger. Because of this she requires the assistance of a service dog.
In the 1980s, Krake was a young deputy sheriff in New Orleans who absolutely loved her job. "Every day was a new adventure," she said.
But that all changed when she was called out one day to the site of a gas leak. Before she could run for cover, the gas ignited and there was an explosion that threw her in the air, only to land on her head. She didn't know it then, but she received a brain stem injury.
Shortly after the accident, Krake began having seizures. For 4 1/2 years, she went through intensive physical therapy and drug experimentation and soon was able to control her seizures. They eventually returned, however, much stronger and longer than before. Fearful of leaving home, she stayed home most of the time except for going to doctors appointments. In 2008, her neurologist suggested that she get a Vague Nerve Stimulator implant, or VNS, which sends an electrical pulse that interrupts seizure activity and limits the maximum seizing time to 5 minutes. This device had a magnet with it so that when swiped across the implant area it would shorten or even prevent the seizures. But Krake was unable to use it since she had no sense of when one would occur.
This was when it was suggested that she get a Seizure Assist dog. Krake applied and was later paired with a 14-month-old lab, Brody. His training included bringing an emergency phone or hitting a Lifeline panic button during a seizure emergency. Brody was also trained to incorporate the VNS and now wears it on is vest.
"When I seize," Krake explained, "he will 'cuddle' with me. He lays across my chest with his nose 'snuggling' my neck. This swipes the magnet across the implant and stops the seizure. Then he barks to get someone's attention."
Krake thinks very highly of her service dog and is grateful for all he has helped her with. Since getting Brody, she has been able to go out in public and even do volunteer work. "He really is a lifesaver," Krake said. "I probably wouldn't be here today without him."
Krake's presentation in Bede Ballroom was held in conjunction with Disability Employee Recognition Month.