Seizure response dog gives young Georgia woman hope, independence
ATLANTA - Rosalie Brown has a shadow, and his name is Rolex.
"Meeting him and getting him was one of the happiest days of my life," Brown says.
Because life before Rolex wasn't much of a life at all.
"I've never really felt safe," says the 24-year old. "Which, I can't really explain to you, what that's like to be scared all of the time, like every second of every day."
Rosalie has epilepsy, unpredictable seizures that can hit at any time.
Some are so small you might not even notice them.
"On a good day, I have around 50 a day," Rosalie says, of the minor seizures.
Some are so violent, Rosalie hurts herself.
"It feels like you're brain just exploded inside your head," she says.
She has dislocated her shoulders so many times that she knows how to put them back in place, by herself.
"I dislocated my shoulder on Saturday, and now I will be in this sling for 6 weeks," she says.
The seizures mean the 24-year old school library assistant can never be alone. Ever.
She lives with family, has never been able to drive.
"I haven't taken a bath in years because you don't want to have a seizure and drown," she says.
But Rosalie life changed in April of 2015.
After 4 years on a waiting list for a seizure response dog, her epilepsy worsening, Canine Assistants called.
"I was having 300 of those small seizures a day," Rosalie says.
The Milton non-profit that trains and provides service dogs at no cost to recipients with disabilities had two trained seizure response dogs that might be a good fit for Rosalie. They asked her to come meet them.
But anyone in the room that day will tell you Rolex chose Rosalie.
They opened the door, and he walked in, dragging his leash behind him.
"He kind of sniffed around," Rosalie says. "And then came directly up to me and picked up the end of his leash and handed it to me. And, he jumped in my lap and buried his head in my chest and would not move."
With that, Rolex became her partner.
If Rosalie has a seizure, Rolex is trained to go alert the nearest person. He'll tug at their clothing, pulling them to Rosalie. He can also bring her the phone, or push a button that automatically dials 911.
But it's not just that.
Rosalie says Rolex can sense when she is about to have a major seizure.
"They don't know if it's a tiny electrical impulse the dogs pick up, or if it's a scent," she says.
The first time it happened, she says, he started whining and crying and licking her. When she didn't respond, he went and got a friend, and brought her to Rosalie.
Within minutes, Rosalie had grand mal seizure, one of the big ones.
These days, they're inseparable.
"I don't spend longer than a few minutes without him," Rosalie says.
When Rolex isn't on duty, he's all play, like any other young dog.
But, when he's working, he is completely focused on Rosalie.
And he's the reason she can come to work here in the library at Notre Dame Academy, and feel comfortable, and in control.
"I feel like he's a part of me," Rosalie says. "We're a unit; we're a team."
And Rosalie knows Rolex, the dog who chose her, will be here, no matter what.
"He's not only changed my life," she says. "He's probably saved it."