Evan Moss’ seizures come quietly in the night. When they strike, the 7-year-old’s parents have to give him medicine to make them stop, or risk brain damage. But to do that, they have to know they are happening. Lisa and Rob Moss live in fear of missing one.
The seizures are so silent that even if Rob and Lisa sleep in the next room with a baby monitor to listen, they can’t hear them, so Evan sleeps with them in their bed. “We go through life pretty much not well-rested and with a strong addiction to caffeine,” says Lisa Moss.
But a service dog specially trained to detect seizures and alert Evan’s parents could help insure that Rob and Lisa don’t miss a seizure and also make it possible for Evan to sleep in his own bed. The catch? A dog like that costs about $13,000.
To raise the money for the dog, the family discussed the usual options: a 5K run, a dinner with a band, a lemonade stand.
As almost an afterthought, they came up with the idea of self-publishing a short book Evan had written as part of his application for the dog. Initially, they modestly hoped maybe they could sell 150 at $10 apiece. But Evan has now sold 10 times that many copies of the 26-page “My Seizure Dog”. A July 24 book-signing alone drew an estimated 650 people to a local coffee shop, and at one point Evan’s book ranked 125th in sales among all the millions of books on Amazon.
And as it turns out, none of the profits from book sales needed to go towards the cost of Evan’s dog, because donations alone have topped $26,000 — more than twice what the Alexandria, Virginia boy needed for his dog. The additional thousands of dollars, plus proceeds from the book, will now make up the difference between what four other children’s families have raised and the cost of their service dogs.
Evan’s dog, which will be trained by the nonprofit 4 Paws for Ability on how to pick up a scent-related chemical change in Evan’s body that precedes a seizure, will be ready for the family to pick up next June. The dog will be either a poodle or a poodle mix, Lisa Moss says, because poodles are less likely to aggravate her dog allergy.
Since Evan’s dog hasn’t yet been selected by 4 Paws, the Mosses don’t know how it will alert them to an impending seizure. Some dogs bark, others nudge parents, says Karen Shirk, the nonprofit’s founder
Still, Lisa Moss says, “that’s a really big task to put on an animal. At the beginning, we’re basically going to have a boy and a dog in our bed. At some point, Evan will be back in his own bed with a dog.”
As for Evan, he’s already making plans to write “My Seizure Dog 2” after he gets his new companion.