- Associated Press - Thursday, July 3, 2014

POWELL, Wyo. (AP) - The reality of epilepsy forced Susan Rand to live a secluded life. For years, she rarely went to a public place alone.

“I would never go to the grocery store by myself. I would never wander away from my husband or daughter or son when we’d go somewhere,” Rand said. “Because if something happened, people want to help, but there’s really nothing they can do.”

Rand knows she just has to let a seizure run its course. But in a public place, people around her would panic or call an ambulance if she had a seizure, not knowing she has epilepsy and seizures are a part of her life.

Rand spent long days at home, unable to do what she once loved.

“Before, I was so independent. I could take the world on,” she said. “Once this hit, it was like, nope. I can’t do it. I’m going to hide away.”

Then a dog named Jasmine came along.

Through Canine Assistants, Jasmine is trained for seizure response, guiding, hearing, service and emotional support.

She doesn’t let Rand hide away.

“You have to take her out, you have to take her for a walk,” Rand said. “She makes you go back out into the world, into the public.”

Jasmine is “kind of like a spokesperson,” Rand said. She wears a vest identifying her as a service dog so that if Rand begins to have a seizure in public, people know it’s because of epilepsy. Jasmine stays by her side through it all, and can even let Rand know when a seizure is coming.

Dogs cannot be trained to alert for seizures, but Jasmine quickly picked up on it, Rand said.

“When we got her, there was no guarantee that she would alert,” she said. “We had hoped, but there was no guarantee.”

Shortly after Rand got Jasmine in the spring of 2013, she alerted her to a seizure while Rand was at the Powell hospital. As they sat in a waiting room, Jasmine became very antsy.

“She just would not settle. I couldn’t get her to lay down or sit down,” Rand recalled. “She kept trying to climb on my lap.”

Finally, after failed attempts to get Jasmine to calm down, Rand decided to just lie down on a nearby bench.

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