MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. -- Service dogs have the amazing ability to improve the quality of life for so many people. They can help the blind, and even predict when a person is going to have an epileptic seizure.
That's exactly what one family is hoping their new pet will do. Leiya Beals is just 8 years old and has been suffering from seizures since she was 9 months old.
Her mother works full time at a gas station to help support two children with special needs. Thanks to a four-legged friend the family got last week, they're hoping Leiya will be able to enjoy life in a way she hever has before.
Loki, Leiya's new puppy, will soon start training to be a service dog.
"He's going to be a really big help," Leiya said.
Leiya was diagnosed with generalized epilepsy, and can suffer a seizure any time and anywhere.
"Her longest one [was] 4 minutes, most of them are about 3-and-a-half," Leiya's mom Jamie Beals said. "And we have a special medication in case they go over 5 that we have to administer and immediately call and ambulance."
Little Loki is giving Leiya companionship, and will also be a crucial way of living with seizures. Seizure service dogs are trained to notice the small subtle changes before a seizure, and alert the owner one is on the way. They can bark and alert that help is needed, and can even fetch medicine.
"Dogs and people have evolved for millennia to work together, so dogs are really experts on human body language," said Jenn Gavin, owner and head trainer with A Pleasant Dog.
Gavin is an expert at training service dogs, and knows the freedom they can give their owners.
"It can give them some independence they may not have had previously," Gavin said. "A lot of people really suffer from their seizure disorders because of their lack to go out in public."
Leiya's family is hoping to raise enough money for the new dog's training and veterinarian bills. They have an account set up at Huntington Bank. If you'd like to help, you can go donate to the "Leiya Loki Fund."