Watch hero dog who can sense when her epileptic owner may have a seizure and can even alert others to help

Annie has been described as her owner Matt’s best friend

Meet Annie the dog, she’s much more than a pet or her owner’s best friend - she’s her saviour.

That’s because the five-year-old border collie-husky mix can sense when owner Matthew Nielsen, who has epilepsy, may be about to have a fit.

Annie’s heroic actions have been caught on CCTV from within her family home. Matthew’s wife Catherine has also described Annie as her husband’s best friend.

Hero dog Annie can sense when her owner Matthew Nielsen will have an epileptic seizure in bed at night.
Hero dog Annie can sense when her owner Matthew Nielsen will have an epileptic seizure in bed at night.
Hero dog Annie can sense when her owner Matthew Nielsen will have an epileptic seizure in bed at night.

A important helping hand

Annie sleeps in the family bed which means she is always close to Matthew, aged 32.

She has an ability to sense when he is about to have an epileptic fit, which means she wakes up fully herself and then wakes Catherine, age 31, who quickly takes charge of the situation.

Annie’s incredible senses are particularly important to the couple as Catherine suffers from hearing loss, which can sometimes make it more difficult for her to identify when Matthew is about to have, or is having, a seizure.

Catherine said: "Matthew had experienced two other seizures that night. I am deaf in my left ear so I put the dog on the bed with me, just in case Matthew had another seizure.

"I can’t always hear Matthews’s seizures and when he started seizing the dog alerted, which woke me and I was able to help Matthew with the seizure."

A constant companion

Catherine said Michael and Annie have a very special relationship and they are "best friends".

There have been many times when Annie would not leave Matthew’s side as she could sense something was going to happen.

Annie showed signs of being able to detect and alert the seizures a year after Michael started having them.

Catherine said: "She started showing signs of being able to sense the seizures about a year ago. She typically comes to get me when Matthew isn’t feeling well or starts having a seizure when I’m not there.

"Matthew’s seizures put him at an extreme risk for Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP). Having a dog who is able to alert us to seizures helps us keep Matthew safe. Nothing can eliminate that risk but the dog helps reduce that."

A dramatic change in lifestyle

Matthew’s life has drastically changed since his seizures started in 2020. He went from being active every day to sleeping 20 hours-a-day and he now fully depends on Catherine for care.

Catherine said: "The seizures have taken away his quality of life. He is an army national guard vet who had a strong career in construction and he is now completely dependent on me for most of his care."

Catherine works for the local government in Carson City, Nevada, USA, while Matthew’s career in construction has been put on hold after his epilepsy worsened.

She said: "He started showing signs of having seizures randomly in 2019. He had his first tonic-clonic/grand mal (seizure) in 2020. We’ve seen many doctors and finally landed with the best doctors and team in the country at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

"He has focal refractory temporal lobe epilepsy with status epilepticus. We don’t have answers as to why the seizures are happening but he just underwent a major brain resection where they removed his right temporal lobe, amygdala, and hippocampus,

"It’s called an amygdalohippocampectomy."

Viral video

The video has gone viral since Catherine shared it earlier in October 2022, and the couple say they are grateful for the awareness they could bring to seizures and epilepsy.

Catherine added: "We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to share information about epilepsy. One in 26 people have it but most people have never witnessed a seizure or know what to do when it happens.

"Some people don’t believe that dogs can alert, but I’m just thankful they’re not in a position to have to know what this is like. I do hope that through watching the videos on our page that we can save even just one life."