Kelly Sears, a 19-year-old A-level student from Essex suffers from a condition known as narcolepsy, a sleep illness that causes her to fall asleep at anytime without warning. She has recently had her life dramatically improved thanks to a specially trained dog called Theo, a 2-year-old cocker spaniel. Theo was first given to Kelly by the Medical Detection Dogs charity, which is currently the only charity in Europe trained to deal with narcolepsy. Kelly and Theo bonded at first sight and in February they started training together so that Theo could live with Kelly and her family long-term.
Since then Theo has been at her side day and night and has been trained to lick her neck and face until she wakes up, whenever she falls asleep. This has made a massive improvement in Kelly’s life as she would be asleep anywhere she fell for several minutes, causing concern if she was out in public. Theo’s licking causes Kelly to wake up within in a few seconds and as he wears a jacket with the words ‘medial alert dog in training’ people are less concerned. When Kelly would fall she would often have minor injuries such as cuts and bruises as she hit the ground. Theo has even been trained to go to fetch help if Kelly hurts herself when she falls by getting attention of people close by and leading them back to Kelly.
Theo was first recognised for his special ability by the charity when it was noticed he could recognise the signs of someone about to have an epileptic seizure. The charity is now trying to help Theo recognise signals in Kelly when she is about to fall asleep, so Theo can warn her beforehand. Thanks to Theo and all his hard work, Kelly feels she now has the confidence to go out on her own in public without fear.