Alert dog Fiona supports young lady suffering from epilepsy

The alpha omega foundation supports "Medical Flair". This non-profit organization specializes in training alert dogs to help people with diabetes or epilepsy cope with their daily lives. Medical Flair takes a new approach: they train dogs from rescue shelters rather than puppies from kennels.

We had the opportunity to speak with Y.C.
She suffers from epilepsy. Her dog Fiona has been living with her and her family for several months. Fiona is still young and not fully trained. We wanted to know from Y.C. what her life with Fiona is like and how her dog's training is going.

Y.C., you suffer from a form of epilepsy in which you experience absences. How did you come up with the idea that a dog could help you to manage your everyday life safely and autonomously despite your illness?

Already as a child I wanted to have a dog. Then I saw the TV show "Incroyable Talent - Emma et Joy". It was really incredible! The two of them inspired me: a dog trained specifically for me might be able to help me! It was difficult to convince my mom of this idea. We had never had a dog in our family before. And a dog takes a lot of time and effort! In the end, my mother agreed.

How did you find your dog?

Stephanie from "Medical Flair" helped me. She looked for a suitable dog for me and found one: Fiona. The first meeting took place in Zurich. And we took Fiona home with us that very day. There was an immediate "spark". Almost like love at first sight. Fiona has been living with us since May 2021. She is always with me and also sleeps in my room.

Fiona should alert you before you have an epileptic seizure. You can then go to a safe place or sit down. When Fiona came to you, she was not yet trained as an epilepsy alert dog. Who trains Fiona?

Under the guidance of "Medical Flair", I do most of the training. Fiona and I meet Stephanie every week to train. Afterwards I put into practice what we have learned during the training session. I work with Fiona every single day. This April, I passed the first exam with her as an alert dog.

How can Fiona support you now, after 11 months?

Fiona accompanies me for four hours a week in privateer school lessons and for one hour in class lessons. The next step is to accompany me to work.

What do you experience when you are out with your dog?

Many people approach me because Fiona is with me. She "opens doors". Thanks to Fiona, I got to know a great young lady. She is a diabetic and has a dog that is trained as a diabetes alert dog. He can warn her of impending hypoglycemia. I learn a lot from the two of them.

Have you also experienced negative things?

Not everyone understands what an alert dog is or what the dog does. My handicap is not as obvious as that of a visually impaired person, for example. That's why it is sometimes difficult to explain why my dog accompanies me everywhere. With Fiona, it became visible to others that I am a person who needs support. I had to get used to that.

What is the best and most beautiful thing about having Fiona?

Fiona is always there, she gives me stability, she senses when I'm not feeling well. Fiona gives me love.

Information on the activities of "Medical Flair"

Epilepsiehund Fiona mit Besitzerin Y.C. (Bild: © Corinne Junod)

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