On your way to class, you may have noticed someone walking around with a black Labradoodle.
You may have asked to pet the dog, and after being denied permission, you may have wondered why.
Well, that Labradoodle’s name is Esther, and she has one very important job, which is to protect Mary Schuler.
Schuler is a Ferris psychology sophomore and is a reactive hypoglycemic, which means she has low blood sugar and could have a seizer at any time.
“Esther can give me about a minute warning before I have a seizure,” Schuler said. “My blood sugar will drop really low pretty quickly and she will give me a warning so I can sit down so I won’t fall and hit my head.”
According to Schuler, blood sugar is a smell and Esther is a natural alerter, which means Schuler did not train her to do that part. Esther could be picking up on a seizure or an increased heart rate by smell or sense.
When Esther catches on to a seizure, she will get really close to Schuler while keeping eye contact, head-butt and start pawing. If they are walking, Esther will stop in front of Schuler and paw at her again.
When Schuler does have a seizer, Esther will lay on top of Schuler to help get her out of it. Esther has caught on and helped Schuler through four seizers this year on campus.
Being a college student and needing a service dog is not that much different according to Schuler; it is like having a toddler with you at all times.
“It might be different in a sense that I have special dietary restrictions, a dog and times where I can’t be out and about like everyone else,” said Schuler.
Schuler said her friends have been very accommodating and sometimes change their plans to coordinate with her health.
“Esther is a teenager so she is kind of a punk right now, and she sleeps during my classes or she will just sit quietly under my desk,” said Schuler.
When Esther is off duty, which means she does not wear her vest, she loves to run, play catch, chew on bones, eat scrambled eggs and watch T.V.
According to Schuler, Esther is very professional when she has her vest on and is very playful when her vest is off.
“She is a completely different dog when her vest is off, but she still does her job,” said Schuler.
Schuler said Esther loves to work.
“She loves to carry things, so when she gets antsy I will give her my keys to carry in her mouth so she feels like she is doing something,” said Schuler.