Plano toddler with epilepsy in need of service dog
By Jane Donahue For Sun-Times Media October 13, 2013 8:54PM
Meadow Loy, 2, of Plano, was diagnosed with epilepsy in January. | Submitted
On the web
To learn more or to donate to Meadow Loy’s fund, visit www.giveforward.com and enter “Meadow Loy.” In addition, donations are being accepted by Trinity Church United Methodist in care of Meadow Loy, 2505 Boomer Lane, Yorkville, IL, 60560.
Updated: November 15, 2013 6:27AM
A dog might be man’s best friend, but for Meadow Loy, a pooch will be a life changer.
“It would be a blessing and would really improve the quality of her life,” said her mom, Jessica Busche. “It would help her be a normal child just like everyone else.”
The 2-year-old Plano girl was diagnosed with epilepsy in January.
“Meadow had some developmental delays and was seeing other doctors to try to figure out why,” her mom said. “I had mentioned to the neurologist that she was crawling and then all of the sudden she would ‘face plant’ (on the ground). He said that sounded like a drop seizure, which was the first type of seizure that was noticed.”
Drop seizures have a quick onset and recovery. A child having one might be walking or playing and then suddenly falls to the ground. The episodes last only a few seconds before the child resumes activity, but the potential for getting hurt during a drop seizure is great.
While exploring options to help Meadow, Busche learned about 4 Paws for Ability, a nonprofit comprehensive service-dog organization that “strives to take the ‘dis’ out of disability.” Since 1998, the Ohio-based group has been providing highly trained assistance dogs to children — most of them younger than 10 — from around the country.
“A 4 Paws dog is trained to the specific needs of the individual,” said Whitney Hitt, 4 Paws community and media relations director. “While many organizations provide a long list of services they cannot or will not provide, 4 Paws has always been inclined to accept virtually any challenge.”
In addition, the organization provides dogs to children without a minimum age restriction.
“This allows our dogs to help kids at a time when they’re still developing, and also allows us to service a community often turned away by others,” Hitt said. “We often hear that (the dog allows) a child to feel safe sleeping on their own, in their own bed, sometimes for the first time in their life.”
Busche said a dog — one that is specifically trained in seizure alert and response — will warn them when Meadow is about to have a seizure. The advance warning will allow them to get her to a safe location, and ultimately help Meadow have the opportunity to lead “a more normal life.”
The average cost of a service dog is $22,000. The recipients are required to raise $13,000 and 4 Paws supplements the difference through donations, grants, annual appeals and other fundraising activities.
“Once we raise the $13,000, we send in all the paperwork, and they start training multiple dogs,” Busche said. “Then we go to Ohio for two weeks and train with the dogs, and at that point, they see which of the dogs is most compatible with her.”
Family members and friends have rallied around the little girl, in hopes to raise enough funds to cover the cost of the dog. From prayers to a raffle to a bake sale at the church they attend, Busche is grateful for the outpouring of support.
“We are a church and, as Christians, this is what we do,” said Audrey Orton, who helped coordinate a bake sale at Trinity Church United Methodist in Yorkville. “Meadow is a member of our church, and she has a need for a therapy dog. We are doing what we can to help her.”