When a local elementary school decided to include a photograph of a young girl’s medical alert dog in their 2019-2020 yearbook, hearts around the world melted. This heartwarming event occurred in Louisville Kentucky, at the St. Patrick Catholic School. The girls name is Hadley Jo Lange, and her service dog’s name is Ariel. So when Hadley Jo opened her kindergarten yearbook on May 15th, she was absolutely surprised and thrilled to also see a photo of Ariel, right beside hers. Not only that, but the school also included Ariel on their faculty page. This act of kindness and inclusion touched off a series of articles about Hadley Jo, which in turn served to enlighten people concerning epilepsy and the importance of service dogs for the disabled.
Hadley Jo’s Story
Hadley Jo suffers from epilepsy. According to the Mayo Clinic, epilepsy is a medical condition which causes affected individuals to experience seizures due to abnormal brain activity. When the individuals have seizures, they can experience behavior changes or even pass out. As you can see, this puts the individual at risk of physical injury or even drowning if no one is near, and that’s where service dogs like Ariel come in: They alert those around them, that a seizure has occurred.
According to her mother, Hadley Jo experienced her first seizure at 17 months of age. Doctors at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center stated that Hadley Jo’s seizures were the result of her abnormal brainwave activity. Since then, young Hadley had to accept the fact that these seizures would remain with her the rest of her life. Years ago, that would mean a life of uncertainty, fear and even isolation, but not today. Today, Hadley Jo’s future is a good deal brighter due to her beloved, 4 year old chocolate Labradoodle, Ariel. In fact, Hadley Jo’s mother told a CNN reporter that Ariel has saved Hadley Jo’s life!
This dog has really saved my daughter’s life. I don’t know how I could ever thank Ariel as a mother. She goes with her everywhere, to school, rides the bus with her, goes to her dance classes and soccer practice. She always has her eyes on my little girl. It’s a huge sense of security. Ariel works as service dog for Hadley Jo, and performs this function 24/7, never leaving her side. According to the Epilepsy Foundation (https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/seizure-first-aid-and-safety/seizure-dogs), a seizure dog, like Ariel, has been specifically trained to recognize when a seizure is about to occur. If one does occur, they either stand over their owner, or are trained to go for help. They function as an alarm system for the affected individual.
Dogs can bark to alert family members, then either stand over the individual or lie next to them, so no one accidentally injures the person. Other dogs are trained to operate a device which sounds an alarm. These dogs can also be trained to come between the owner and the ground, somewhat softening the blow if the owner falls to the ground.
Ariel performs these tasks beautifully. Whether in school or in the home, Ariel keeps constant watch over his little charge. When in school, Ariel stays up close to Hadley Jo at all times. He’s been trained to use his senses to alert adults when Hadley Jo is about to suffer an episode. When one does occur, Ariel barks then proceeds to lie next to her or comes between her and the ground if she’s about to fall, never leaving her side, until assistance arrives. .
Hope For Hadley Jo Project
Hadley Jo’s parents soon learned the love and security Ariel brought into their life was an invaluable gift. But they also realized that not every family could afford an Ariel of their own. After much thought and consideration, they developed the Hope for Hadley Jo Project, a non-profit that assists people in obtaining service dogs of their own. Let’s face it a massive amount of attention, care and training goes into each service dog. This means just one service dog can cost somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000 dollars.
It’s evident that few people can afford such a dog. That’s where Hope for Hadley Jo steps in. The project works closely with the Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana to help those individuals get the funds they need. They specifically assist those who have surgical or drug-resistant epilepsy. If you’d like to help the Hope for Hadley Jo Project get service dogs to those who need them, please call their office at 502-637-4440 or visit their donation page.
Service Dogs Provide an Essential Service
Ariel is Labradoodle, which is a mix between a Labrador and poodle, and acts as Hadley Jo’s medical alert dog. Service dogs are those dogs who have been schooled to perform certain activities to aid people with various disabilities. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, a disabilities can range from emotional or psychological to physical issues. Basically, whenever an individual suffers from an affliction that limits their ability to perform acts of daily living. These service dogs are there to ease the restrictions that they fact on a day to day basis, as well as offer them the companionship they so desperately need.
Ariel is just one example of a service dog, as each service dog is unique, and trained to respond to the needs of their particular owner. For instance, if an individual is deaf, but also suffers from an emotional, psychological or mobility issue, the dog would be trained to assist that person. Ariel, for instance, is a medical alert dog, so he’s trained to respond to seizures. Other types of service dogs include::
- Guide dogs for the blind
- Hearing dogs for the hearing impaired
- Mobility dogs for those who have trouble walking
- Psychiatric service dogs for those with psychological disorders
When her school included Ariel in their yearbook, it was a true act of kindness and compassion. Service dogs like Ariel currently assist thousands of people regain much of their life back, as well as their dignity. If you’d like to learn more about service dogs, the breeds involved, what they are trained to do, and how to obtain one, then check out the American Kennel Club’s guidelines. They have everything you need to know, in one convenient location. Because of Ariel, Hadley Jo now has a chance of living a normal life, one without worries or isolation, and that’s a good thing, indeed.