Sunday, May 24, 2009

Community helps boy get a seizure alert dog

JJ Krentz lights up when he walks in the room and sees his new dog. Liza is just as excited, rushing to sniff him, tail wagging furiously.

But Liza is no ordinary dog, and this is no ordinary routine. JJ has Dravet Syndrome, and Liza is specially trained to sense when one of the many seizures the disorder causes is about to strike.

JJ's mom, Tiffanie, says those seizures can be more than just frightening. She says if they are not stopped quickly, they can grow into life-threatening events.

Community donations helped the Krentz family purchase Liza. Tiffanie, her husband Keven and JJ met Liza in February for two weeks of training before bringing her home. Tiffanie says the results so far are amazing. If Liza sniffs JJ and senses an impending seizure, she'll bark or paw. She did it when they were training and has done so at least once a week since they've been home. She's been right every time - and hasn't missed any either.

"It's unbelievable that an animal can sense something like a seizure," Tiffanie says.

Liza gives them as much as an hour and a half warning. It gives them time to get JJ to a safe place to prevent injuries from falls.

It's so successful, they're gradually working Liza into JJ's routine at Easter Seals Capper Foundation's Kidlink Preschool Program. Teacher Linda Burger says the children have gone through some training. They've read stories about working dogs versus pets and have had Liza into the classroom for periods of time so she can get used to working with children around her.

At home, Liza is opening up a world of possibilities. Tiffanie says they're looking forward to going to the park or boating and not worrying about being stuck without help should a seizure suddenly strike.

"Tha'ts important," Tiffanie says, "We want him to be as normal as possible."

Evening as a Child
The Krentz family will be featured guests at the Capper Foundation's "Evening as a Child" fundraiser
6 to 10 pm
Saturday, April 25
Kansas Expocentre
Tickets: $50 (available at door)


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