Sophie is 18 and suffers from Hypermobility which means that her bones can dislocate for no reason, even if she is just sitting down, although usually it is the result of a fall or using her walking frame.
We provided Sophie with a dog called Alice because Sophie had lost all of her friends and given up school, (having been fit and able at 14), she was housebound after losing all confidence and self esteem.
After having her dog for a year, Sophie now goes out into the community in her electric wheelchair, goes on regular holidays with her mother and has restarted her studies at college.
A common side effect of Hypermobility is POTS which is a reduction in blood pressure to the brain causing dizziness or fainting, in Sophie’s case either effect can mean that she falls over and dislocates her bones which often results in a visit to hospital. In order to reduce the consequences of POTS we have trained Alice to recognise the onset of an attack by warning Sophie 2-5 minutes before an attack is due, giving Sophie the opportunity to sit or lie down to avoid another fall. We have trained Alice to react to a change in Sophie’s body odour which is too subtle for humans to detect, it is simply another example of how we are learning that dogs can be so helpful in improving the lives of us all.