Puppy Senses Kid's Impending Seizure But Can Also Help In Different Ways

Mar 01, 2023 by apost team

They say dogs are man’s best friend, but what happens when that friend also has the serious job of keeping you alive?

For 7-year-old Charlie Clode, his assistance dog, Elton, has not only become a constant companion but a beloved buddy and best friend. According to Charlie’s mother, Melissa Clode, the young boy has not only autism but also a severe heart condition.

“He was born with a severe heart condition, without a connection between his heart and lungs. So, he had a lot of heart surgeries to make him survive initially. During those heart surgeries he had a couple of strokes. He lost 20 per cent of his brain and he was very critical for a while, and the brain damage has caused him to have seizures,” Melissa, whose family lives in Canberra, Australia, told QBN City News. 

Melissa decided an assistance dog would best help Charlie and found the perfect fit in a chocolate labrador named Elton. 

“It’s been wonderful, right from when Elton was a little puppy Charlie has had a number of hospital admissions, so we have been… able to bring Elton in for short stays,” she added.

She said while Elton has already alerted the family to a few seizures already, it’s also what Elton does after that really helps her son.

“After Charlie has a seizure and he’s had some oxygen and some rescue medication, Elton will hop over his body and give him like a big hug but it offers deep pressure, Charlie often feels like he’s falling after a seizure so it’s like a big hug from his best friend,” she said, and added, “We spent a significant amount of time making sure we picked a dog with the right temperament to do this kind of work for Charlie.” 

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According to Canine Partners for Life, assistance – or service – dogs are trained to be able to alert humans of an impending seizure as, at that moment, “the human body gives off a different scent although it’s still unknown exactly how a dog can detect this.”

“(Elton’s) alerted us to most of Charlie’s seizures by barking,” Melissa said. She added Elton has since become an invaluable addition to her entire family.

“I’ve kind of really enjoyed the process of Elton, having this many hospital admissions, giving resuscitations to my son and sometimes being told he’s not going to make it, we as parents get a lot of our own trauma so actually being involved in the process and training Elton and having him as part of our family and our medical team has been pretty awesome.”

In January 2023, Elton earned the title of the Australian Dog of the Year’s people’s choice award. 

“I don’t think we’ve ever won a popularity contest, but Elton’s clearly tugging at heartstrings and that’s a good thing,” Melissa said following a public vote via Facebook.

For the Clode family, watching the bond between Charlie and Elton grow has been an emotional journey.

“Elton will sleep either next to Charlie on the ground or up on the bed, depending on what Charlie wants, and he is always watching him, so having a little friend in Elton that he can do everything with is quite cute,” Melissa stated.

She also told ABC News she would “love to see every single long-term medically compromised child in Canberra have a dog on the end of the bed,” as Charlie had benefitted tremendously from Elton’s care and attention. She said:

“He protects Charlie. What comforts Charlie is getting a big hug from Elton. He brings light to very hard times.” 


How adorable are Charlie and Elton together? Do you share a bond with any special animals in your life? Let us know and don’t forget to pass this on to all the animal lovers you know!

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