Evie the epilepsy hero

Source:  Cook Strait News – Nikki Papatsoumas (Journalist)           

Evie the epilepsy hero

A one-of-a-kind dog is helping to raise awareness about epilepsy - not just for humans but for her canine friends. Five-and-a-half year old Evie the Jack Russell was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 14-months-old.

Her owner, Jennifer Jarden, said while most dogs with epilepsy get put down, as it was difficult to treat them, Evie had quickly become part of the family and it was never an option.“She’s just part of the family, I couldn’t do that to her, we love her too much.”

Jennifer said Evie suffers from seizures once every three months, but with the help of her vet and other pet owners in similar situations, she has learnt how to manage Evie’s condition. This includes avoiding rosemary in foods, certain shampoos and strenuous exercise.Evie also takes the same medication prescribed to humans who suffer from the illness.

“It’s a real commitment. We never know when it is going to happen. It is quite unusual in New Zealand to come across a dog that is epileptic.”

After learning of Evie’s condition, Jennifer started attending meetings run by Epilepsy New Zealand and also began to host support groups for parents with children who suffer from epilepsy.

Through her connections with Epilepsy New Zealand, Evie has become a poster dog for the organisation, helping raise awareness around the illness.

“Because it is a unique story we can reach a wide audience, there are people that are animal lovers that don’t realise dogs have epilepsy…it’s all about awareness.”

Gillian Davies from Epilepsy New Zealand said she had come across dogs and cats with epilepsy before.

She said it was “wonderful” to have Jennifer and Evie on board. “Evie is such a gorgeous little dog and it’s a wonderful way to introduce what epilepsy is. Learning about what epilepsy is  the biggest thing.”

During March, Epilepsy New Zealand encouraged people to wear purple to raise awareness for the illness, Gillian said. “We want to help people understand that epilepsy is not just having a seizure… it’s a way of life and learning how to manage that way of life.

“For people with recent diagnosis for family members it can be a hell of a shock. It is great to be able to go out and talk to them and make their lives easier.”

For more information, head to www.eplilepsy.org.nz

For more information on Evie’s story, head to Jennifer Jarden’s Facebook



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