Service Dog Will Help Warner Robins Woman with Seizures

6:29 PM, May 15, 2013   |    comments
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A Warner Robins family learned they'll be gaining a new family member next year.

It will not be the kind that needs lots of help from mom and dad, but one that will offer a child independence.

The Hixon family will soon meet their new Canine Assistant.

At the DeCA Commissary at Robins Air Force Base Wednesday, Rachel Hixon looked a bit overwhelmed.

The grocery store had planned a ceremony for her, and reporters were asking her lots of questions.

She looked relieved when Henry, a labrador retriever wearing a vest, walked in.

Rachel immediately reached out to pet him and smiled.

Her father, Tommy Hixon, says she rarely warms up to people like she does to animals.

20-year-old Rachel has a genetic condition that causes seizures.

Hixon said, "Really, almost, she just freezes."

That's been happening since Rachel turned three years old.

Tommy Hixon says those seizures will continue the rest of Rachel's life, but the ceremony at the base commissary was about making them less scary.

He said, "The dog will be able to alert to seizures to come let myself or her mom know it's going on to provide the care necessary to help her through the seizure period."

Milk Bone and a nonprofit group near Alpharetta, called Canine Assistants, made it possible.

Canine Assistants trains the dogs. Milk Bone sponsored the nearly $25,000 price tag that comes with that, plus the dog's lifetime care.

Henry will not be Rachel's dog. He is "spokesdog" for Canine Assistants, but Rachel will get a dog similar to Henry in about a year.

Training for the dogs takes about 18 months. Rachel will need 2 weeks of training too, so the pair can make the best of their new life together.

Rachel said, "He is going to help me with my seizures."

Milk Bone sponsors at least six canine assistant dogs for military families each year.

Rachel's dad is a retired Air Force Colonel. He now works as a civilian contractor at Robins.

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