Two years ago (August 2018), Charlie Hooper wrote this letter.
Dear Oscar Project Committee:
As a thirty-two-year seizure sufferer, and epileptic, I am interested in having a “Seizure Dog” by my side. The Oscar Project canine will give me the freedom to do things I love and give back to my family and the community.
Over the years, my episodes have gotten steadily worse. Thirty-two years ago, I was averaging between five to six seizures a year. Those occurred nocturnally, after I went to bed. Then, suddenly, in 2001, the seizures came more frequently. I was a police officer and the seizures started to occur at work. The seizures increased to between 50 and 80 a month. My life drastically changed. Since I could no longer drive safely, I had to stop working my job on the police force.
I am a college graduate with a degree in Criminal Justice. I worked as a police officer with a local department in Maryland. I loved my job and would be doing it today, if things had turned out differently. My seizures ended my criminal justice career. I was able to sign-on as a retail security manager at Lowe’s, which helped for a time with our family income. Over the next few years, though, my seizures spiked to over 1,200 per year, which finally ended my working career.
I have two sons from my first marriage and now am the father of a step-son and two grandchildren. My wife, Steph, is my personal caregiver, the family breadwinner and my personal hero. Since we have been married, we have never gone on any type of vacation. Steph works a weekly ten-hour shift at Walmart in York, and I am at home during the day.
I receive a small monthly amount of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. I am stuck at home every day, unable to do things that I enjoy. I can no longer go for walks on trails or in local parks, without a companion. I have lost the freedom to go to places alone and take nature photographs. I cannot visit family or friends whenever I want. I can’t cook over a hot stove and can’t walk around the block or go shopping by myself. I miss the independence of being able to do things on my own!
I have had pet dogs my entire life and love having them around. I realize that a Seizure Dog from the Oscar Project will be different and its mission is to prepare me and protect me when a seizure is occurring. I know it is not a pet. I am committed to treating the dog as my “Caregiver,” when my wife is at work. I know that having a Seizure Dog by my side would give me the freedom to do things on my own. That freedom means so much to me: I will be able to photograph the beauty around us. I value the contributions I can make to my community and my family with a Seizure Dog at my side.
Thank you for your consideration of my case.
Two years later (August, 2020) and Charlie is still waiting for a Caregiver dog from the Oscar Project. The complication of many seizures, the Covid-19 outbreak, and the current best-dog, Jaxon, who is already an untrained family canine, have all collided. We are now delayed in a deep freeze: the transfers of any new dogs are on hold indefinitely. These trained seizure dogs will not find new homes until 2021 due to the Corona virus.
We know that in these strange time, it is a small thing to wish for, to pray for, to yearn for — a new seizure-trained dog, but for Charlie’s sake, we do in fact make that profound prayer.
When the world is safe, we encourage bringing on new dogs!