Jakob Hawkins is a typical 15-year-old who likes skateboarding and playing his guitar. But since he was 5, the Mesa teen has been plagued with nightly violent seizures during which he thrashes around and frequently injures himself.
His mom, Kathleen, whose room is next to his, rushes in as soon as she hears him.
“He’ll stand up and throw himself on the floor,” she said. “I have to restrain him before he injures himself more.”
Jakob, who goes by Jake, has complex partial epilepsy.
As soon as he closes his eyes, he’s susceptible to the seizures.
The light at the end of the tunnel came earlier this year when Jake and his mother discovered Paws With a Cause, a nonprofit organization that helps match specially trained assistance dogs to those in need.
Jake was accepted to receive a seizure response dog from the organization.
The dog will be trained to alert Jake’s mother when he’s suffering a seizure.
“Having the dog would give us a lot more peace of mind,” said Kathleen, a single mom who works as a massage therapist at a Mesa chiropractor’s office.
The dog will also help Jake lead an independent life.
The dog would allow Jake to live on his own in the future, and can be trained to push a button on a box to call 911 if Jake is unresponsive.
“I think it’s going to be a milestone for me,” said Jake, an East Valley High School junior. “I think it will be lifechanging, and I am ready for it.”
Jake will get either a Labrador or a golden retriever as soon as funding becomes available, said Amber Abbott, a field representative for Paws With a Cause.
Although Jake and his mother are not expected to come up with the more than $18,000 needed for the assistance dog, the sooner the money becomes available, the sooner Jake will have the dog.
Paws With a Cause relies on private donations, and there is no government or insurance funding available for assistance dogs, Abbott said.
“We’re super excited for Jake, knowing it will totally increase his independence and security, knowing that he’s safer at night,” Abbott said.
“He’s a really neat kid and he’s super excited. When I brought our demo dog, Licorice, out to meet him, Jake did really good with him and played ball with him,” she said.
Jake and his mother are planning a fundraiser concert and golf tournament, and are looking for donors to Paws With a Cause on his behalf.
“I’ve met several people with response dogs and seen how it helps them,” Jake said. “Paws was friendly and open to my concerns, which was something that is really important to me. I’m really looking forward to getting a dog that works with me.”
To help Jakob Hawkins’ obtain his seizure response dog, call (800) 253-7297 or visit www.pawswithacause.org