My Dogs Have Saved Me From Myself

I know that taking care of animals can be tough at times, but the benefit we gain from having them in our lives is priceless!

When my narcolepsy started becoming worse, I brought home a chihuahua puppy and called her Karma. She was so tiny, and I was so afraid of hurting her! I knew she would be perfect for a service dog, and I was excited to see what she was capable of.

Training a service dog with my limitations in mind

My first plan of action was to potty train Karma to go in a litter box. People thought I was crazy when I mentioned it, yet they were also intrigued. None of my friends or family had ever heard of a dog being litter box trained!

I knew my limits and I knew I may not be able to get up and take her out when she needed me to. This was a big concern for me, as I did not want to put her in the position to hold it too long and injure herself. I also wanted to avoid any "accidents" from happening in the house.

The training process

First, I put shredded paper in a box and had it in my front room. Every time I saw her sniff and look for a place to potty, I lifted her up and put her in the box. I kept her close to me in that room for a few days, and eventually she started going over to the box and doing it herself!

After a week or so, I started moving the box slowly out of the room and to its permanent location. After a month, I slowly started adding litter to the box. Eventually, the box was filled with litter, and it was second nature for her to use it. This proved invaluable for the next 14 years I spent with her.

Training my dog to recognize narcolepsy symptoms

My next step in training Karma was to teach her to wake me up when I fell asleep sitting up. This was extremely challenging. I had to train her to know the difference between falling asleep uncontrollably and sleeping in my bed.

It was quite the process; however, we did it! If I fell asleep in a sitting position, whether it was on the couch or in a car, she would lick my chin. I don’t know how many times she saved me from myself! She was such a blessing.

New training with a new dog

Karma was with me for 14 years. She was always by my side and helped me through many sleepy situations. When she passed last year, I was lost. I felt like I had lost a part of me. I depended on her more than I realized, and her presence is missed to this day.

After much consideration, we did get a new puppy, and I plan to teach her some of the same things Karma knew.

NeeNee is bigger than Karma was, so the litter box was not an option. After a lot of thought, we decided on a doggy door. This way, she can go outside when she wants, and there is no expectation of me to do it each time.

There will never be another Karma, but my new helper NeeNee will eventually be trained.

My dogs give me purpose

If you are thinking about getting a pet or are apprehensive about it because of your narcolepsy, I want you to know there are solutions! The love and attention they give us is important for our well-being.

My dogs give me purpose each day. They also comfort me when I need it. It can be a lot of work, but the rewards certainly outweigh the effort.

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