Demi & Bear
Dancing again thanks to a Bear’s nose…
By the age of 21, Demi had already suffered from 2 heart attacks, had heart surgery twice and regularly passed out without warning, anywhere and at anytime. Her conditions of Sinus Node Disfunction and PoTS caused her heartbeat to be uncontrollably high sometimes and drastically low at others and proved impossible to control with medication. “I basically gave up as there was no way forward”, says Demi. “I felt like I was constantly losing. I lost friends, my degree and my confidence”.
Demi had planned a career in dance but without warning became unwell, so the life she had planned became impossible. While her friends progressed with their lives, she felt stuck. “It was horrible”, she says, “I wanted friends to invite me to places knowing I might actually go, rather than friends not even bothering to invite me as I would probably cancel or not be able to go anyway”.
This determination to control her health and recover her life, drove Demi to search out MDD. “I wanted to be reliable, not a liability or a burden. I hoped a dog companion would help me control my health so I could live the life I so badly wanted to live”.
Bear, a black Labrador, was the first Medical Alert Assistance Dog Demi met, but she found the training hard and if not for the support and encouragement of their trainer, might have given up. “As much as I adored Bear, and things seemed to be going well, I was always prepared for it not working out. I remember that I couldn’t bring myself to refer to him as ‘my dog’ and I didn’t say ‘when Bear moves in’. It was always ‘if Bear moves in’. Bear himself wasn’t consistent throughout his early training and after initial success at alerting, he could be distracted by other dogs and then fail to alert. Demi was so upset she asked Debra, their trainer to take him back, as she couldn’t stand to become more attached to him when she felt the partnership was failing. However Debra’s calming influence and experience along with super high value corned beef treats soon had Bear back on track and he hasn’t missed an alert since
Life with Bear has meant that Demi, who is now a dance teacher, is able to run her own successful dance school. “I can get up and demonstrate things. My dancers all know Bear’s alert and sometimes even tell me that Bear wants me to sit down. He is a very well loved part of our dance family”.
He is also an important confidence giver to the rest of Demi’s family, who no longer have to worry that she might have passed out and hurt herself. They all adore Bear and agree that he does an incredible job keeping Demi safe.
Demi describes Bear as super cheeky and she loves his personality. “I don’t know if our bond would have been so strong, if he had been the almost perfect dog I initially envisioned. It’s the best feeling in the world having a beautiful, furry best friend by my side, helping me manage my health.
I love my life. I have a purpose. I have confidence. I feel happy”, says Demi.