Service Dog Runs For Help For His Human In The Hospital

An Alaskan man with cerebral palsy found out that his service dog was even more extraordinary than he thought when the dog, a Labrador Retriever named Thorr took his training one step further to alert nurses that his human needed help.

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Thorr’s owner, Eric Skousen, was in the hospital because he had been bedridden for several days with muscle contractions. Thorr stayed with him in the hospital, and when he recognized a seizure in Skousen, ran down the hospital hallway to the nurses’ station to let someone know help was needed. Thorr nudged senior ward clerk Ryan Huddleston twice, ensuring that he had her attention and bounding back to his owner so that she would follow and help.

Huddleston says she’s never seen anything like it, though it isn’t the first time that Thorr has let doctors and nurses know about Skousen’s impending seizures. Thorr is trained to recognize chemical changes in his owner, and those changes typically happen during a seizure. He’s also trained to look for help should that happen, but knowing to go straight to the nurses’ station for help when his human is already in the hospital, even for a service dog.

Michele Forto is the co-owner of Alaska Dog Works, the organization that certified Thorr as a service dog. Forto says that dogs are trained to get help, but most often, it’s done on command, not of the dog’s own cognizance and initiative. Forto says it’s obvious that Thorr and Skousen have a close bond.

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Skousen was born with cerebral palsy but his father always instilled in him that he could do just about anything he wanted regardless. Skousen takes Thorr with him everywhere and the two are avid hunters, fishermen and hikers despite Skousen’s disability. Skousen has had more than 20 surgeries in his life to allow him to live life to the fullest and he’s had a few service dogs in his lifetime.

Forto says that dogs can do magical things, and clearly, Thorr going beyond what even a trained service dog would do shows that he’s not a typical service dog. Then again, Forto says that Skousen isn’t the typical client her service dogs go to.

Skousen and his father were very close, and always talked about fishing in Alaska together. Prior to his father’s death in January, the last seizure Skousen remembers was nearly 40 years ago. His sister believes the seizures he’s been having are the result of the stress from his father’s death, and Thorr has really shown himself to be life-saving as the seizures have happened.
Even when Skousen was in the hospital already! Good job, Thorr!
[Source: Alaska Dispatch]

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