Maddy Sehorn is the owner of a special kind of dog named Moe. The communications and sociology major from Virginia Beach, Virginia, is the proud owner of a Whippet; however his purpose in her life is so much more than that of a beloved pet.
Moe, a white, medium sized dog with similar features to a grey hound, is trained as an epilepsy and emotional support dog. In other words, he’s a service animal.
The Americans with Disabilities National Network defines a service animal as, “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.”
Working alongside Maddy since 10 weeks old, Moe has been trained to comfort her in times of emotional distress and anxiety, as well as protect her from injury in the case of a seizure; Maddy suffers from grand mal seizures and petit mal seizures.
Grand mal seizures are a specific type of seizure that involve a loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions, whereas petit mal seizures are a smaller-scale seizure that involve a brief or sudden lapse in attention.
But how can an animal aid a human in the event of a seizure? Maddy explained that Moe knows to get under her chin and turn her head to the side to prevent her from choking and to protect her from surrounding elements.
Anxious on her first days on campus with Moe, Maddy said, “Tech has been such a supportive community. I have 80 sorority sisters in Delta Zeta who welcomed us both with open arms. He is our living mascot.”
She went on to explain that there are little to no restrictions, but as a precaution she keeps a binder of documentation and Moe’s certification on hand at all times in the case that someone object to Moe’s presence.
Often times, strangers approach Maddy and Moe out of a “natural curiosity” of her “unseen illness” and ask why she needs a service animal. Other times people want to immediately pet the adorable Moe.
“I can never tell older people no, but if it’s a kid, I try to explain that he’s working and educate them about service animals,” she said.
According to anythingpawsable.com, “The simple answer for not petting a service animal is that the animal is there to keep his/her partner safe. When the animal is distracted he is not paying attention to his job and his disabled human handler could very easily get hurt, ending up broken and bleeding. You can’t pet service animals because it’s distracting, and if a working animal is distracted because of something you do and their handler gets sick or injured, it’s your fault.”
“He has made a huge impact throughout personal changes; he is a constant and he keeps things interesting,” Maddy said. “He plays dead and likes to lick random things.” Maddy beamed when talking about the now eight-month old Moe.
To keep up with the daily activities of Maddy and Moe, follow them on Snapchat: maddy_sehorn95.