WARNER ROBINS, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Milk-Bone donated a service dog to a young woman diagnosed with epilepsy on Wednesday.
Rachel Hixon was presented with a service dog at the Robins Air Force Base commissary during a donation ceremony.
She's like any other young person you'd ever meet. She likes to have fun and play Nintendo Wii.
But there are times when the fun stops and she has difficulty doing every day routines.
That's because she suffers seizures and she was diagnosed with epilepsy.
Milk-Bone, the dog food brand, wanted to do something special for Rachel and her family, so they introduced her to a service dog named Henry.
Henry is a "spokes-dog" for the Canine Assistants program that provides service dogs to people with disabilities for free.
Hundreds of families apply for a furry friend, but they're wait-listed for up to five years.
J.D. Fenessy is the National Sales Director for military for Del Monte Foods, Milk-Bone's parent company, and says military families needed a little help to receive a dog.
"With the defense commesary agency and with Milkbone, we get 78 dogs a year specifically for the military, we get them moved up the list and their on the wait list a year maybe two years," Fenessy said.
Rachel's dad is a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel and her brother is currently serving in Afghanistan. Her mom, Robin, has to constantly check on her to make sure she's ok, and she says adding a new member to the family will be a big help.
"I've never had a dog that big so they're hoping to give her one of the larger dogs to kind of help with her balance, so it's going to be a good size dog," Hixon said.
Henry won't be going home with Rachel. His owner, Kevin Ballance, works for Canine Assistants and explains how she'll be able to pick her own dog that will be trained to turn lights on and off, open doors, and also alert someone when she's having a seizure.
"Often times I would say that most of our dogs end up being able to anticipate seizures up to 30-45 minutes in advance," Ballance said.
It takes about a year to train one of these dogs and once Rachel is paired with the perfect pooch for her,
She and her new companion will be headed to a two-week Canine Assistants training camp in Atlanta.
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