Antonio was a regular, happy nine-year-old child going out to dinner with his mother in Nicholasville, Kentucky, when his whole life changed.
As the pair were driving down the street bopping along to the music, a stranger fired multiple bullets through the window of the family’s SUV, hitting Antonio in the head. After 18 days in a coma and five brain surgeries, Antonio awoke but he didn’t remember his own name. He had to be retaught how to eat, speak and walk.
Antonio’s day-to-day life now includes seizures, migraines, balance issues and other related health difficulties. An artificial skull covers half of Antonio’s brain, and an unexpected fall from a seizure could easily threaten his life. Antonio fought to survive, and his strength and bravery led him to where he is today, along with the support of an amazing German Shepard named Alice.
Service Dog Alice was a beacon of hope for Antonio and his family as they were going through an unimaginable situation full of pain, fear and uncertainty. Alice empowered Antonio to feel confidence in himself again, while also keeping him safe physically. Alice assists Antonio with his balance issues and will push up against him to keep him upright. She also senses seizures before they happen and will alert Antonio and his family fifteen minutes prior, so they can prepare accordingly. This ensures he remains safe and doesn’t injure himself during an episode. Antonio attends school again now, with Alice by his side.
Alice’s dedication to Antonio is inspiring and gives him the physical assistance and mental courage he needs to move forward with his life. The two train every day, which is especially important given Antonio has no short-term memory. They also play soccer together, and just hang out. Alice is Antonio’s best friend and guardian angel. She encouraged him to come out of his shell following the tragic, senseless incident, and she literally and figuratively saves his life every day. She is a loyal and loving hero.
In 2019, five-year-old Alice was named the 2019 American Humane Hero Dog. Alice is a heartwarming reminder of the powerful role dogs can play in human’s lives, especially during a difficult time. Do you have a hero dog in your life? We want to hear their story!