August 28, 2015

Aug. 28, 2015 Column

Miracle In Redmond, Oregon

Pre-published in the Spokesman: November 2014
by: Liza C. Little

How could a wandering four-legged gypsy who found herself awaiting rescue in a shelter go on to completely change a life with a miracle that neither he nor his doctors ever would have guessed possible?

Gypsy, a black Labrador, had a grand, unexpected purpose for landing in that shelter - one that would go on to leave a legacy in her path and give someone the gift of freedom.

After several years of suffering from grand mal seizures causing severe depression and anxiety, Patrick Madden’s life was forever changed when Gypsy, a service dog, came into his life. It was soon after they met that he miraculously never suffered another grand mal seizure again!

Spending most days struggling through daily life, never knowing when a seizure would come, Patrick’s life became enslaved by his uncontrollable medical problem. His calendar was filled with doctor appointments, tests, experimenting with various medicines, some causing more harm than good. Depressed and in constant high anxiety, fear of a seizure kept Patrick inside and alone – getting increasingly depressed. 

Hearing about service dogs and how they help many people he began the search for one with hope for a better life. He connected with Prison Pet Partnership, a group that rescues dogs from the humane society and trains them to be service dogs. He met Gypsy --  trained to help someone in the midst of a seizure by taking actions like roll the person over on their side, open doors, grab the phone. But to everyone’s shocked surprise what Gypsy learned to do for Patrick was nothing short of a miracle! 

What began to happen was amazing! Gypsy actually self-learned to detect Patrick’s seizure before it would come. She learned his body signals and become aware of changes in his body chemistry and behavior. When this occurred she would continue to nudge Patrick until he safely sat down out of harm’s way. 

She trained Patrick to notice his own signs and symptoms; Patrick became more relaxed, less stressed and anxious about the unexpected next seizure. He began to go out. His entire life as he knew it had changed!  His seizures began to diminish and for the next 13 years he never had a grand mal seizure again!  

Patrick speaks of how Gypsy helped him prevent suicide as a result of trying new medicine during his earlier days. He says the love and care they shared was strong. She taught him he wasn’t alone, that she really cared and that she needed him as much as he needed her. 

After 13 years together, Gypsy grew old and eventually passed away, but she left a blueprint and paved the way for Patrick’s new service dog, Seamus, who eagerly learns from Patrick what Gypsy taught him. 

Confidence back, Patrick went on to give presentations at schools to educate people as to how much a service dog can help.  He wants to bring hope and let others know the healing a service dog can bring. He invites anyone to call for help and would like to form a support group of service dog owners in Central Oregon.

There really are no coincidences-- people and animals come into our lives for a reason. Gypsy touched Patrick’s life in a way he could never imagine. She gave him a new lease on life and allowed him to see how much an animal can change our lives for the better. He carries on her torch to teach other service dogs and help educate people in a way he probably never dreamed possible. From the rescued to the rescuer, the 4-legged guardian angel gave her gypsy spirit of freedom and courage to another and inspires us to never give up hope.

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