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Dog Alerts Hospital Staff To His Owner’s Seizures

Written by: Dina Fantegrossi
Dina Fantegrossi is the Assistant Editor and Head Writer for HomeLife Media. Before her career in writing, Dina was a veterinary technician for more than 15 years.Read more
| Published on July 5, 2017

A dog named Thorr demonstrated the remarkable bond that develops between service animals and their humans this weekend when he alerted hospital personnel to his owner’s repeated seizures. Thorr’s main responsibility is to help Erik Lamont Skousen, who suffers from cerebral palsy, with balance and mobility. But doctors and nurses say that the dog rushed from Skousen’s room at Sitka Hospital in Alaska on at least three occasions seeking help for his seizing master.

“The dog ran up, nudged me twice, made sure I acknowledged he was there, and took off back toward the room,” senior ward clerk, Ryan Huddlestun told Alaska Dispatch News.

Skousen refuses to let his condition slow him down. He has had 20 different surgeries to improve his mobility by transferring and lengthening his tendons. Hiking, hunting and fishing in Alaska is a lifelong dream he achieved 11 years ago when he moved to Sitka.

“You’ve got to live life, got to enjoy it,” Skousen said.

Give me 40 days and I’ll be back to, this my normal egotistical sarcastic asshole perfect me! ( I’ve got to remember my…

Posted by Eric Lamont Skousen on Friday, June 30, 2017


It was after one of these fishing excursions with Thorr last week that Skousen found himself hospitalized with painful muscle contractions. Thorr has been allowed to remain by his side during his stay. The big Yellow Lab is three-and-a-half-years-old and nearly 100 pounds – something that comes in quite handy when acting as physical support for six-foot-three, 240 pound Skousen!

The seizures are a new part of Skousen’s condition – starting this past January after his father passed away. Although Thorr is trained to seek help if his master falls and to sense the chemical changes that indicate an upcoming seizure, he has never been put to the test in a sensory-overload setting like a hospital.

Michele Forto co-owns Alaska Dog Works, the Willow-based company that certified Thorr as a service dog. She says that most dogs need to be given a command in order to run for help. In this case, she believes the incredibly close relationship between man and dog definitely played a role.

“When the recipient and the dog have a good symbiotic relationship, things happen, regardless of any kind of training,” Forto said. “Dogs do magical things.”

Skousen himself attributes Thorr’s heroic actions to what he calls “his Superman thing.” The pair will remain at Sitka hospital for another 10 days, then fly to Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage for neurological testing to figure out the reason for the seizures.

Thorr will keep vigilant watch at Skousen’s bedside all the while.


H/T to Alaska Dispatch News

Featured Image via Facebook/Eric Lamont Skousen

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