Service dog gives owner new quality of life

Any dog owner will tell you how much they love their pooch, but Teddy the Labradoodle is something really special.

Posted: Mar. 3, 2018 8:23 PM
Updated: Mar. 3, 2018 10:11 PM

COLUMBIA CITY, Ind. (WFFT)- Teddy the Labradoodle is a good boy. He sits, shakes, but most importantly, he knows when his owner is going to have a seizure.

"I have what they call psycho-motor epilepsy, and complex partial seizures... caused by my military service... I took a nasty bump on my head one time," said Gary Bird.

Bird and his family got Teddy about four years ago.

"He would crawl up in my lap, and he still crawls up in my lap at 80 pounds, and got his paws on my shoulder and then I would have a seizure a few minutes later," Bird said.

When Teddy does that he's smelling Bird's breath for changes. Bird was in the military for 18 years. After his head injury life wasn't the same, but with Teddy by his side he has the confidence to do the things he use to do.

"We went to get a pet and he ended up being the savior of my life," he said.

Kay Anderson with PAWS Fort Wayne said therapy and service dogs are changing lives.

"Dogs have a way of being non-judgmental. They love unconditionally. They always bring joy," she said.

Many take advantage of the system, though. Websites will allow people to register their pets as emotional support, therapy, or even service animals.

"You just fill out the paperwork and they'll send you your vest, and send you some kind of little certificate that your dog is indeed an emotional support dog or service dog when really they're not," Anderson said.

Anderson said people pulling stunts make it hard for people like Bird who really need their dogs.

Bird told WFFT he has been in contact with state legislators about people who abuse emotional support, therapy, and service registration.

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