When Shannon Locke, aged 22, posted a video of herself having a seizure with her seizure alert-dog Poppy by her side, the footage went viral and now she has raised awareness of epilepsy to millions of people worldwide.
Shannon’s seizures began at the age of 17 in the form of tonic clonic seizures, absences and myoclonic jerks. Before Poppy came along Shannon wouldn’t leave the house.
I used to be housebound because I’d have multiple seizures every day. It’s all thanks to Poppy – she gave me my confidence back. I will go out now, have a coffee in the morning and do some shopping because Poppy gives me a warning before I have a seizure. Sometimes it can be up to half an hour in advance. This gives me time to ring my dad to pick me up, or to get safe.
Now Shannon has Poppy a lot has changed.
There comes a point when you have to say: ‘I have to stop letting this condition hold me back.’ I honestly think without Poppy I would still be depressed.
I originally got Poppy as a companion and then I noticed her behaviour was out of sorts. I started to realise that she was sensing my seizures. We contacted a dog trainer who was studying the behaviour of dogs and how they can detect seizures in people and he trained her.
When I first got Poppy my confidence started to grow, it started small and maybe I’d just go outside for a short while, but now I can go out all day with no anxiety.
Shannon is delighted about the impact her video has had.
I really appreciate how many lovely messages I’ve had from people all over the world.
There was a lady from Australia that told me she had been housebound for three years. When she watched my video she went outside for the first time in all those years.
Poppy and Shannon have become a global hit helping others cope with epilepsy in a number of ways.
Poppy is now part of a ground-breaking study whereby experts at Queen’s University in Belfast are looking into how her abilities could help others with epilepsy throughout the world.