My GSD rescue who rescued me

by Marisa
(Tampa, Florida)

I adopted Theron from a no kill shelter when he was two years old. I was not out to adopt a dog at the time since I was caring for my 15 year old German Shepherd with cancer, but the shelter had asked me to come and work with him. When I walked in the shelter, I saw the most beautiful German Shepherd I'd ever seen. He was malnourished and terrified but I fell in love immediately. He had been imported from Germany by a man who was severely mentally ill and abusive toward him. He was afraid of everything and everybody since he'd had some ribs broken at his former home. He was 70 lbs when I adopted him, and he is just over 100 lbs now. He bonded to me immediately and over the first three months I had him I learned he was not such a neurotic and fearful guy. He was actually patient and very calm (when asked to be).

About 4 months before I got him I had begun to have seizures. They were unable to be controlled by medication and would strike at any time. I once had a seizure while crossing a major intersection in NYC where I lived. One day I was sitting on my bed when Theron ran at me and started barking a high pitched, whiny bark in my face. He actually looked panicked. I got up and was concerned, and when I did this he grabbed my sleeve gently and began to try to pull me down to the floor. That is the last thing I remember. I woke up on the floor with a concussion and I'd bitten my tongue nearly in half. When I woke up, my roommate was standing over me. She'd told me he ran to her room and was frantically scratching on her door and when she'd opened it he started leading her to where I was having a seizure.

This happened two more times before I took him to a friend of mine who is a behaviorist and we took the proper steps in getting him certified. I also get cysts that rupture on my ovaries, and when this happens my blood sugar drops. My dog senses this before it happens as well. I thankfully have not had a seizure in almost a year now, but I still keep my rescue pup with me.

It hasn't been easy, a lot of people start arguments with me. I find many people are terrified of German Shepherds, or consider dogs "dirty" when in fact he's cleaner than most people I come across. I am 29 years old and don't look like I have a disability. I am often reminded that I am not blind, to which I usually reply that he is not a guide dog. This dog has been a blessing in disguise.

Editor's note: Marisa, thanks for sharing about your challenges and how Theron helps you. There is obviously much more education needed for the public to understand what service dogs do. Perhaps Oprah could be persuaded to do a segment...

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