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Poppy's epilepsy sixth sense turns her into an internet star

By David Young

Published 28/08/2015

Poppy the wonder dog - the Labrador who can sense when her owner is about to have an epileptic fit - has become an international media sensation thanks to an internet video uploaded by her owner, Bangor woman Shannon Locke.

In the video the life-saving pooch, whose astounding abilities first featured in the Belfast Telegraph just over a month ago, is shown licking Shannon's mouth to prevent her choking on saliva as her fit takes hold.

Poppy's sixth sense told her to alert Shannon that a seizure was on its way 15 minutes before the event.

That gave her owner time to set up her camera, get into a safe position on her bed, and film the whole thing.

Shannon (23) was diagnosed with severe epilepsy after suffering a massive attack at 17. When Shannon's condition was at its worst she was having up to 20 seizures a day, forcing her to drop out of school and become housebound.

Shannon says she has been overwhelmed by the reaction to the short video, made as part of a Queen's University research study into how dogs detect oncoming epileptic fits.

"I'm still in shock. It's just been insane, but brilliant at the same time," Shannon said.

The student added she was proud to be part of the vital scientific research project, and urged anyone who can participate to get in touch.

Poppy (2) was trained by leading canine expert Neil Powell from Newcastle in Co Down.

Along with scientists at Queen's, Neil is currently conducting a research study to find out how she does it - and to see if other dogs could be trained to sniff out seizures.

A scene from the video showing Poppy providing comfort during the seizure
A scene from the video showing Poppy providing comfort during the seizure
Shannon Locke with Poppy

"It's very exciting. There are so many people all over the world that suffer from epilepsy and dogs can help. We need to find out how they do it, and we will," he said.

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