Lincoln the service dog is being trained to assist Gabriela with seizure alert.
“A gladiator, a champion” is how Camille Carrillo describes her daughter Gabriela Mangual Carrillo.
Camille was told that her daughters development in the uterus was not compatible with life. Gabriela is nine years of age now. She suffers from brain palsy and congenital hydrocephalus, among other conditions, and has been battling many different diagnosis since birth.
Three months after birth, Gabriela was discharged from the hospital. The doctor told Camille that Gabriela would never smile, however, in spite of the doctors prediction, Gabriela always has a smile on her lips. Gabriela does not speak or walk, so Camille must devote much of her day and night to the care of Gabriela as well as attending to Camila, her 15 year old daughter. To relieve Camille when Gabriela’s father, David Mangual, arrives home from work his attention is immediately focused on the care of “Gaby”, as he affectionately calls her. “David is very affectionate towards Gabriela,” say relatives, especially Gabriela’s grandmother, Isabel de Leon.
Since Gaby was a year and a half old, she has had convulsions that if not treated in time, may cost her life. These attacks can occur at any time and the only signal to the convulsion or seizure is that Gabriela starts to blink. Camille would spend day and night watching Gaby’s face, just looking for any sign of the next seizure. Camille would watch Gabriela at night with a flashlight, dozing off and on observing Gabriela. The observation was essential for Gabriela’s well being. Her seizures only stopped with medication.
The Mangual-Carrillo family has welcomed Lincoln as a member of the family. Lincoln is a nine month old Labradooodle, a mix breed between a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle, that is being trained to alert to Gabriela’s seizures. He was donated to the family by a breeder in Canada.
When Gabriela experiences these episodes, her head must be moved from side to side, to avoid her choking on her vomit. Before a gesture or minimum sound is made be Gaby, Lincoln is being trained to alert the family that a seizure is happening. Lincoln’s way of reacting to an episode is to look Gabriela in the eye to detect any eye movement and lick her face to identify if there is saliva or vomiting.
The positive energy that is Camille projects is immense. Her attitude toward life is thankfulness. She sees in her small Gabriela a example of strength and a desire to succeed. “I am not special, I am a mom more. Special she is. I feel that God put it in my hands to see what I did with it. It is like my redemption, mine and my family, that is what I feel,” she said. “Gabriela has taught me to be everything I can be, if she can I can.”
Camille is a woman of great faith “sometimes talking with God, and I’ll tell you, Lord, if I had the miracle of healing, even so I would not dare ask it for Gabriela because I know that he gave her as he wanted, that is my reality. Gabriela is as God has willed and that he give me and I gave to his purpose,” said Camille.
Gabriela’s first nine years have been intense for the family. The arrival of Lincoln will be a relief with his ability to help monitor Gabriela. Lincoln needs to additional training and to be certified as service dog, which will take about five months in North Carolina through Highland Canine Training. The cost of his travel and training will be about $14 thousand dollars. For this reason on November 14 there will be a gala at the Museum of Wildlife, 1075 Marginal Ave. Kennedy, San Juan, P. R. In addition the organization Dedicated Animals Serving Humans Always D.A.S.H.A. is raising funds. In fact, the president of the organization in Puerto Rico, Odalis Garcia Colon, has been training with Lincoln on the Island next to John Lugo. John Lugo, a contractor through Highland Canine Training and advocate for D.A.S.H.A. , has been working with Lincoln more intensely with the seizure alert customized for Gabriela and fetching objects to assist the family when needed.
Those interested in helping Lincoln and Gabriela can attend the gala or make a donation through PayPal to prservicedogs.org. More information is also available on the webpage www.prservicedogs.org.