“If you talk to any dog mom they will tell you their dog is their world, but my dog actually gave me my world and continues to do so everyday. You see, Piper is my medical alert service dog. He performs alerts to give me prior notification when I am about to pass out, have low blood sugar, have stopped breathing, or am having a mast cell reaction that can end in anaphylaxis. He has saved my life countless times, and I have him to thank for my ability to sit here and type this.
Piper means the world to me, but it wasn’t always that way. Piper originally joined my little family because my previous service dog, Opie, developed a type of autoimmune meningitis that causes seizures. My world came crashing down and I certainly didn’t want another dog entering in it, especially not when my furry best friend who saved my life was fighting for his own. After a week without a service dog and almost as many emergency room visits as there were days, my mom called my geneticist in tears. I had smashed my head on our glass coffee table while passing out, waking up without the nearest idea of what month it was and having re-tore my retina. He made the decision quickly. I needed a new service dog if I wanted to keep living.
Thankfully, the entire time my service dog trainer had seen my need for another dog. She matched my specific needs with a breed and had an appointment lined up to go test a litter of wire-haired vizsla puppies. I came home that evening with Piper. I would love to tell you I confidently faced this new chapter in my life, but the truth is I spent that evening crying, making everyone else hold this new puppy, and trying to wish it away.
From the start Piper was the most adorable puppy you had ever seen, had a personality that was bigger than the sun, and took to his training like a fish to the sea. Within weeks he was alerting to my hypoglycemia and before I passed out. I poured my time into this puppy knowing he was what was going to keep me alive, but was still not willing to offer him a permanent home in my heart.
One evening, I had been battling the stomach flu and made my way to the bathroom as quickly as I possibly could (sorry for the TMI). Events like the stomach flu aggravate my postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and had a history of making me pass out even more than normal.
Piper scampered behind me into the bathroom and I had just barely made it to the toilet when Piper threw one of his big puppy paws into the air to signify I was about to pass out. The last thing I remember was yelling for my mom. While I was unconscious, my mom raced up the stairs and into the bathroom, only to be shocked by the sight that met her. My tiny puppy had grabbed onto my sweater and was pulling with all of his might in the opposite direction to keep me from falling off the toilet and getting yet another concussion. He kept up what he was doing until he saw I was safely in my mother’s care.
I am happy to report ever since that day Piper has had a very large part of my heart. This March, I had a big milestone in my life: I made it a year without going to the emergency room and I owe every bit of that to this amazing dog! Now, when we face obstacles in life, Piper and I turn to each other knowing that by trusting and relying on the other we can get through anything. Teamwork makes our dream work!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Cienna. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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