• Sarah Vible and her seizure-alert dog, Rosebud, in her neighborhood in Milton, Del. Rosebud can detect an epileptic episode about 15 minutes before it occurs. MICHELLE GUSTAFSON FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

    By  Aili McConnon

    Sept. 12, 2019 11:06 am ET

    Sarah Vible almost didn’t finish college because of her epilepsy.

    During her sophomore year, the frequency of her seizures increased until she was losing consciousness several times a week.

    “I didn’t want to go to class because I was nervous about something happening,” she says. She decided to drop out of school midway through her second year and moved back home to Delaware.

    But Ms. Vible, now 25, returned to college and graduated. She is working today in a crisis-management center for adolescents in Delaware. And she owes it all, she says, to a 57-pound yellow Labrador named Rosebud.

    Rosebud is a service dog trained at a nonprofit called Canine Partners for Life in Cochraneville, Pa. The dog can detect when Ms. Vible will have a seizure about 15 minutes before it happens. She lets Ms. Vible know with a whine or a bark and then lies down with her owner until the seizure is over.

    Seizure-alert dogs are part of a growing class of service animals that can detect warning signs of epileptic seizures and diabetic emergencies and identify other medical conditions. Demand has surged, according to trainers and training centers—some of which now have long wait lists—as recent scientific studies have started to confirm the dogs’ efficacy in helping their owners.

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