Golden Retriever Can Detect 12-Year-Old Boy's Seizures Before They Happen

"Dopey has become an extra set of eyes for us," said Dawn Ramage-Voss, the mom of 12-year-old Britton, who suffers seizures regularly.

The phrase, "dog is man’s best friend" might be an understatement for this golden retriever, who can detect his 12-year-old owner’s seizures before they happen.

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Meet Dopey, the canine savior of Britton Voss, 12, of Clearfield, Utah.

“They are best friends. When we go somewhere, Britton knows that Dopey goes with him,” his mom, Dawn Ramage-Voss, told

Britton was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome when he was just a toddler. In addition to suffering from seizures, the 12-year-old is also developmentally delayed, and functions at a 2-year-old level, his mom said.

“He has to be watched around the clock to make sure that if he has seizure he doesn’t fall and get hurt,” she explained.

But, since adding Dopey to their home in 2013 Ramage-Voss said many of her worries have been dispelled.

“Dopey has become an extra set of eyes for us,” Ramage-Voss said. “He will come to us, nudge our hand, then walk to Britton [if he is about to have a seizure.]”

In addition to alerting a nearby adult when Britton is in trouble, Ramage-Voss said the 4-year-old golden retriever will also open doors, retrieve medication, find Britton if he is lost, and block Britton from walking outside or down the stairs after a seizure, when he is disoriented.

But, it’s not only Britton’s ailments that Dopey has learned to respond to.

Ramage-Voss said the dog even alerted to her blood sugar dropping, and when a neighbor had a seizure.

His teacher, Melissa Lovell, told the golden retriever once also responded to one of Britton's classmates, who was having a seizure.

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“The students love him and see him as an extension of Britton. They understand that he is working and he can’t be pet,” Lovell said. “There are a few [students] that find great comfort in simply looking at him. He is a calming source for everyone, including myself.”

During Dopey’s off-duty hours, however, he acts as welcome companion for the boy. They cuddle whenever Britton is having a bad day, and they sleep in the same bed at night.

“Dopey has become another member of our family,” Ramage-Voss said.

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