During my years
in animal welfare work - I served as
of the American Society for the
of Cruelty to Animals - I have heard
stories about the power of the human-
One of my favorites is about a girl and
her very special
When the girl
was born, her parents were stationed
with the U.S.
Army overseas. The tiny baby spiked
a fever of
106 degrees and when they couldn't help
her at the
military base, the baby and her family were flown home to the United States
where she could
proper medical care.
fever kept recurring, but the baby survived. When the episode was
over, the child was
13 different seizure causes, including
She had what was called Multiple Seizure Syndrome and had several seizures
every day. Sometimes she stopped breathing.
As a result,
the little girl could never be left alone.
She grew to
be a teenager and if her mother had to
go out, her
father or brothers had to accompany her everywhere, including to the bathroom,
which was awkward for everyone involved. But the risk of leaving
her alone was too great and so, for lack of a better solution, things went
on in this way for years.
The girl and
her family lived near a town where there
was a penitentiary
for women. One of the programs there was a dog-training program.
The inmates were taught how to train dogs to 1) foster a sense of competence
and 2) as a job skill for the time when
the prison. Although most of the women had serious criminal backgrounds,
many made excellent
and often trained service dogs for the handicapped while serving their
mother read about this program and
the penitentiary to see if there was
could do for her daughter. They had
no idea how
to train a dog to help a person in the
but her family decided that a
animal would be good for the girl, as she
social opportunities and they felt she
a dog's company.
The girl chose
a random-bred dog named Queenie and, together with the women at the prison,
trained her to
be an obedient
had other plans. She became a "seizure- alert" dog, letting the girl
know when a seizure was coming on, so that the girl could be ready for
I heard about
Queenie's amazing abilities and went to visit the girl's family and meet
Queenie. At one point during my visit, Queenie became agitated and
took the girl's wrist in her mouth and started pulling her towards the
living room couch. Her mother said, "Go on now. Listen to what
Queenie's telling you."
The girl went
to the couch, curled up in a fetal
facing the back of the couch and within moments started to seize.
The dog jumped on
and wedged herself between the back of
and the front of the girl's body, placing her
ear in front
of the girl's mouth. Her family was used to this performance, but
I watched in open-mouthed astonishment as the girl finished seizing and
Queenie relaxed with her on the couch, wagging her tail and looking for
all the world like an ordinary dog, playing
with her mistress.
Then the girl
and her dog went to the girl's bedroom as her parents and I went to the
kitchen for coffee. A
later, Queenie came barreling down the hallway, barking. She did
a U-turn in the kitchen and
racing back to the girl's room.
a seizure," the mother told me. The girl's father got up, in what
seemed to me a casual manner
whose daughter often stopped breathing, and walked back to the bedroom
must have been evident on my face
girl's mother smiled and said, "I know
thinking, but you see, that's not the bark Queenie uses when my daughter
I shook my
head in amazement. Queenie, the self-
proved to me once again how utterly foolish it is to suppose that animals
don't think or can't communicate.
This beautiful midi entitled "Guardiaan
Angel", is an original composition and performance by Mary Hession.
It retains her sole ©copyright and is used with her full permission.
Visit her wonderful site Living