Saturday, November 17, 2007

Service dog for seizure stricken patient is now missing!

With a voice still hoarse from hours spent calling for Blossom, Melanie Stripp described the days since her lifeline ran away.

The borough woman, who has epilepsy, lost her medical alert dog Nov. 2. Blossom somehow got out of a fenced yard behind Stripp's home in the 700 block of South Broadway. The golden retriever was spotted as recently as Thursday but has yet to come home.

Stripp has spent most of the last week looking for her. "This isn't just a regular dog," Stripp said, holding back tears. "She is my lifeline. I can't do it without her."

The HAWK radio station is offering a $700 reward for whoever finds Blossom, a white and brown dog trained to warn the 32-year-old if she is nearing another seizure.

Stripp said she suffers from grand mal seizures, which include convulsions, and petit mal seizures, which she said are more like short dazes. Stripp said if she's about to have a seizure, Blossom licks her face or paws at her.

Debbie Schaser, the founder of Canine Hearing Companions, a Vineland, N.J., nonprofit organization that trained Blossom, drove through the borough Friday afternoon. "We're going to get her today," she said. "I know we are."

Medical alert dogs are "really tuned into people" and can sense medical complications before they happen, Schaser said. Schaser said the dogs grant independence since their owners can rely on the dog for safety, rather than other people.

Eric Nelson of Phillipsburg, a 46-year-old with epilepsy, has been accused in recent days of taking Blossom. He wants people to know he didn't. He just owns a similar dog. Homer, Nelson said, has "saved my life over 300 times He gives me a lot of self-esteem, a lot of confidence to go out independently."

That's what Stripp is missing right now. Despite a few dazes, she wasn't sure she's had a seizure since Blossom left. Still, she said, "At this point, I'm so scared that when I'm home by myself I'm going to have one. And she's not there."

Reporter Douglas B. Brill can be reached at 610-759-0508 or by e-mail at


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