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The quest to find a seizure alert dog for their teenage son Cody has led to success for Pakenham Campus teacher Scott Wallace and his wife Tracy.
Cody Wallace, 14, was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour and hydrocephalus (excess fluid on the brain) 12 years ago. He has since undergone multiple brain surgeries and lives with constant seizures. The family raised money two years ago for a seizure alert dog to help with Cody’s care and has been waiting since then for the right dog to be found.
Last month – after an exhausting and stressful process – the Wallace family was granted an exemption to travel to Queensland so they could be trained to handle their special new family member – Lulu the SmartPup.
The initial outbreak of COVID-19 had meant the placement of Cody’s first dog was cancelled. Without the recent exemption to travel to Queensland, he would have lost Lulu too.
“We spent two weeks in quarantine – during that time, I taught my classes via Zoom while my wife and son counted down the days until we were out of quarantine,” said Mr Wallace, who is Head of eLearning and Information Technology at the Pakenham Campus.
He said the family had a weekend to enjoy the sun and sand before the intense training began. By the end of the week, Lulu had passed her Public Access Test and was ready to move to her new home.
“Getting home wasn’t without its challenges… three cancelled flights and the fourth delayed certainly tested our patience,” Mr Wallace said.
This video shows a small part of Lulu’s training. She has responded to a t-shirt that has Cody’s seizure scent on it, her bark is to alert the family of a change in Cody’s condition.
“Knowing that Cody has a companion who can detect the slightest change in Cody’s health will definitely have a positive impact on our entire family, moving forward,” Mr Wallace said.
A seizure alert dog costs $30,000 for its initial training and more than $5000 a year to maintain its training, diet and overall health.
Lulu the SmartPup is a welcome addition to the Wallace household
Scott Wallace, who is Head of eLearning and Information Technology at the Pakenham Campus
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