Seizure alert dog for young Central Texas survivor finishes first 6 weeks of training thanks to community’s support
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The family of a young cancer survivor is expressing their gratitude to friends, family, and even strangers after their beloved dog completed her first six weeks of training to become a seizure alert dog.
Miracle, a German Sheppard, just returned from the training, which took place mostly in El Paso, to help learn how to sniff out seizures early for 8-year-old Emma Beth Greenawalt, of Waco.
The first grader at St. Paul’s Episcopal School was diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer when she was two.
Emma Beth first had surgery to remove the tumor in May 2016, followed by chemotherapy in June and the beginning of 30 rounds of radiation that November.
She was declared cancer free, but because of the brain surgery and resulting scar tissue, she began suffering from absence seizures, which involve brief, sudden lapses of consciousness.
Emma Beth underwent recent testing that showed she was having more than 300 of these seizures in only 48 hours.
The training for her service dog will last around three years and cost roughly $20,000. The Greenawalts, however, don’t have to stress over finances, because an online fundraiser raised it all.
“Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like a simple ‘thank you’ wasn’t enough to express how thankful you felt?” Emma Beth’s mom, Missie wrote on behalf of her and her husband, Micah.
“Micah and I feel an overflow of gratitude and wish we could repay each of you for the support you have shown Emma Beth and Miracle.”
Miracle just completed the first session Monday. Most of her time was spent in El Paso, but the trainer and dog did return to Waco a few times so the dog and Emma Beth could work together.
Missie said the first session mostly focused on obedience.
“The basic obedience training she completed and then certain commands she learned like eye contact and reading body language so she could read Emma Beth’s body language,” Missie said.
Missy said the training will progress each session but says there is already a noticeable change in the family’s four-legged member.
“Absolutely, she’s a very different dog and she knows already she has a job to do,” Missie said. “It’s just very impressive and just to see within a first few weeks that she’s just a different dog. Miracle is doing so well in her training.”
Miracle will stay home and rest for the next month before returning to Far West Texas for her second session.
Emma Beth joins her family in thanking everyone for their kindness.
“Thank you everybody for helping Miracle be my service dog,” she said.
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