Pitbull mix dog helps Albuquerque teen with epilepsy

Posted at: 10/25/2013 10:05 AM
By: Heather Mills, KOB Eyewitness News 4

An Albuquerque teen is making strides and living more carefree all because of his best friend. Man's best friend, that is.

Diagnosed with epilepsy just a few years ago. Dezmond Hill no longer has to worry when his next seizure will hit. Now he knows, and the unlikely pairing is breaking down all kinds of barriers.

It's between periods and the halls are bustling at Rio Grande High. Dezmond Hill is on his way to class. Shadow is right by his side. "He knows when it's time to work, by if he's on the leash or if he's in his vest," Dezmond said.

Shadow is a three year old Pit Bull mix, adopted from the City of Albuquerque's animal shelter. Initially adopted a year ago; just as a family pet; now he's a service dog and a savior. "He's saved my life a bunch of times," Dezmond said.

Dezmond was diagnosed with epilepsy a few years ago. His mom, Jennifer, says it's scary because a seizure can strike anytime. "We have no warning signs. The only chance of a warning sign we have is Shadow," said Jennifer Solis-Ball.

Shadow can sense a seizure before it happens. Dezmond says he'll playfully nip at him. Knowing that, gives them peace of mind. "If I fall, to where I am trapped somewhere, he will grab onto a piece of my clothing and drag me out of that place or he'll flip me over," Dezmond explained. He said, "I'm not going to let epilepsy stop me."

And it hasn't, because of Shadow, who's breaking down barriers of his own. "Everybody is always like, oh those are those fighting dogs that you see on TV," Dezmond said. But Solis-Ball says that's not the Pit Bull she knows and loves. "They're loyal, they're smart and they will do anything for their master. Let's take that and use that, "I'll do anything for my master" and use it save my son's life."

Shadow is a savior and a companion.

Shadow did go through a lot of training to become a service dog and it's a continual learning process. But, Dezmond and his mom say they're just happy to show the world any dog can do it. That's why they created "Paws for Epilepsy." It's an organization dedicated to educating people that a pound pup can become a life-saver.