When you are told that your young son has a brain aneurysm, you as a mother are devastated; but when she was told that he had another one, you are now facing hell. These are the words that Yasmine Zep used to describe how she felt when she was told that her son Leo suffers from multiple brain aneurysms. He was only 3 years old when he was first diagnosed. After the second aneurysm, Zep was told that he would suffer strokes and have seizures. During one of his stays at the hospital, the one thing that seemed to help get him get better was Love on Four Paws, which is an organization that has dogs that are specially trained to visit sick children and adults in the hospital.
According to Zep, when the dogs would come in, Leo would light up, begin to walk, and was even able to get the dogs to do a few tricks. Watching her son's demeanor change whenever the dogs would visit convinced Zep that they needed a dog at home.
"Henry is an amazing dog," explains Zep. "I had no intention of getting Henry. Henry picked us; we did not pick him. He was on a "kill list." He is undoubtedly Leo's best friend. They have a connection deeper that I could have ever imagined."
Zep says that when Henry is at home, he and Leo play just like a regular boy and his dog, but when he puts on his service therapy vest, he (Henry) becomes all business. Henry's job is to detect when Leo is about to have a seizure and, according to Zep, Henry's ability to detect is a natural talent and that it happened by accident.
"The reason a dog is able to detect a seizure is that dog smells the smell that your body is going to put out before it has a seizure and the dog learns to associate that feeling and the smells with the actions that happen to you," explains seizure detection dog trainer, Bob Taylor. "The dog can tell that these are not normal, these are abnormal and the dog will alert."
The fact that Henry is always with Leo gives Zep peace of mind and the ability to relax a little knowing that he is always on the job. She says that Henry is a part of the family and that he goes everywhere with Leo. She says that Henry is "extremely loveable, kind, and patient." She says that he still has a little puppy in him so he is super playful. She contributes Leo coming out of his shell to Henry joining the family.
"I believe that our connection with the dog is one of the most vital connections we can ever have," says Taylor. "I believe in the power of healing that the dogs have. It's a very strong thing and a very important part of my life."