How This Min-Pin Saves Its Owner, Every Day

What do you think of when you hear the word “service dog”?

Yeap, a dog with a harness that says “service dog”, most likely help guiding a person on a wheel chair or a blind person. That’s the traditional roles that service dogs play.

Not this miniature pinscher. Meet Isabella and her min-pin Josephine (a.k.a Jo-Jo).

PawshPal met the two when Isabella first entered Josephine in the November 2010 Pawshmate Cute Dog of the Month contest.

We found Isabella’s story fascinating: it turns out Josephine is capable of detecting Isabella’s oncoming seizures. In fact, Isabella didn’t even know at first when Josephine was first brought home as a puppy.

So without further ado, here’s Isabella’s story of Josephine in her own words:

Many people have no idea that there are service dogs beyond just seeing-eye dogs.

We got Josephine (Jo-Jo) about 4 years ago, as a ‘lil pup. She and I were instantly bonded. We picked her out of a litter of 5. I saw her, and felt she was the one.

After about a year, I had to have a total hysterectomy (surgical removal of uterus) at 26 years old. Overnight everything changed with my body. About 3 weeks after the surgery, I had my first grand mal seizure. I was out of town, and my Jo-Jo wasn’t with me. We didn’t know at the time what the issue was, but soon, I had another.

I remember nothing until waking up, and there was Josephine, laying on my chest, licking my face. I just figured she knew something was wrong, but never imagined all she was capable of.

I rapidly began having more grand mal seizures, as well as petit-mal ones as well.

My neurologist came back with a diagnosis of epilepsy. I was scared to even leave the house, as one time, I had no idea one was coming (sometimes I get an “aura” and sometimes I do not). I fell on the floor, lying there bleeding, until I was found.

As I started having all these seizures,I noticed that Josephine would always get very upset,and antsy right before (a seizure), jump on me until I would lie down, and she would get on my chest, and stay there until I came to.

We began to suspect that she could detect my seizures beforehand. My other dogs did not show this aptitude in any way.

I began doing my research about seizure alert dogs. (A seizure alert dog can’t be trained to “sense” an oncoming seizure.)

Well, as time went on, it became clear that Jo-Jo had that gift. And so, it just went on from there. She has been my service dog ever since! She is by my side 24/7, every second of the day.

She sleeps right under my covers at night, and follows me around the house, even when I go to the bathroom. She’s always “on duty” here at home. But she knows when I put her special vest on her, that it’s time to go somewhere, and work.

She goes everywhere from grocery shopping, movies, church, restaurants, on airplanes, everywhere.

She even goes with me to the hospital, and when I have had surgeries, she lies in the hosptal bed with me, right up until they wheel me in to the actual operating room itself, and is there when I wake up!

If she senses an oncoming seizure, she will start to act up, bark, climb on me, and tug at my clothes. Once I sit down, she will put one “arm” around either side of my neck, as if hugging me, and stays that way until I lie down, and just stay on top of me, until I wake up, so to speak.

She can warn me anywhere from 2 to 15 minutes or so beforehand. She never fails to warn me, and so now, I feel more comfortable going out of my home, and doing everyday things. I stopped working when this all started. With my husbands income, I don’t need to. But if I ever decided to go back, Josephine would be right there with me, no matter what.

She was bred once before she was spayed, in the hopes of bearing a puppy/or puppies that could become a service dog for others.

One of her pups became a service dog, his name is Carter (after Dr. Carter from the show ER). He became a service that we donated to a man who had a bad stroke, and has terminal brain cancer. Two of them we kept, that’s Tallulah-Belle, and Lillian. They show some signs of sensing oncoming illness, but nothing like Jo-Jo.

We have Josephine, 3 other Miniature Pinschers (two are her offspring), as well as one HUGE 7 month old Saint Bernard that’s already 130lbs at only 7 months.
So, needless to say, the household is crazy. They all love to play, except Josephine, who from time to time, will join in the playing if I’m in the same room. But that’s not often.

We encourage her to really play more, but she just isn’t interested and wants to be right beside momma. She is obviously my “favorite”, and does get favored over my other pets, although I adore them all.

But Josephine is even more spoiled than the others, gets the best of everything, and gets more treats than she should, which is why she’s so….fat.

We are working on that right now.

She’s my world!


Isabella has graciously volunteered to answer any questions about her or her dog Josephine. If you have any, please leave them in the comment box below.

PS: Do you have any interesting stories about your dog that you’d like to share with fellow animal lovers? Leave a comment below (with the email address field filled in) and we will contact you.

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Showing 3 comments
  • Ariel

    I know this is a really old post but I was wondering if u had any puppies that could help my daughter she has epilepsy?

  • Deanna Thompson

    I have a 7 year old min pin, Maxwell Smart. Naturally alerts to my low blood sugars, migraines and PTSD. He’s an angel from God. Since working with him I’ve been able to return to work and get off disability. The support I get from him has connected me to a non profit group for people with mental illnesses Psychiatric Service Dog Partners. If you google it and go to our donate page and donate what you can from now to December 1, 2015 the donations will be matched dollar to dollar. This group is a huge support system and I look forward to the yearly conventions.

  • Nicole K

    I know this is an older article, but I have a question for Isabella (if she’s still up for answering any). My boston terrier Charlie has a gift with my epilepsy, and like you were saying about Josephine he lets me know when it’s time to lay down or prepare. Most of the seizure alert dogs I’ve seen are labs or retrievers so I’d like to know if you ever get questioned whether or not your dog is “really” a seizure alert dog because of her breed? Thanks! Adorable little girl, by the way.

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