How a Service Dog Helps Migraine Advocate Candace Camper

Migraine
August 12, 2022
August 12, 2022
3
minutes
How a Service Dog Helps Migraine Advocate Candace Camper

Service dog handler and patient advocate Candace Camper first was paired with her medical and mobility service dog, golden retriever Clea, in 2019.  Since connecting, Clea cracked open Candace’s world, empowering her to do and see more, something many chronic migraine patients are unable to experience.  Because of Clea, Candace maintains a full life of independence and adventure, with the pair often venturing through Chicago as Candace works and visits the local sites.  Having Clea by Candace’s side provides critical on-the-go care she otherwise would not receive without her service dog, and their incredible bond is palpable through their videos shared on Tiktok and Instagram.   

In honor of National Dog Month, we chatted with Candace about what it’s like to be a service dog handler and how service dogs can greatly improve the life of a chronic migraine patient.  

NH: What is a service dog handler? 

CC: A service dog handler is the disabled person that uses the service dog to mitigate their disability or the guardian/attendant of a disabled person that handles the service dog.

NH: How long have you and Clea been paired as a handler and service dog? Is she your first service dog? 

CC: Clea is my first service dog, and we have been paired together since 2019.

NH: What service dog training program did you use? 

CC: A service dog training program in Indiana.

NH: How long did it take for you to get Clea after applying for a service dog? 

CC: I applied for the program with my doctor's recommendation and was accepted in late 2017. Clea and I were matched in mid 2019.

NH: Was Clea originally trained for migraine? 

CC: Clea was originally trained as a medical and mobility service dog for a different neurological condition, but many of the tasks that she was trained for are also beneficial for me during my migraine attacks. 

For example, Clea does item retrieval, med retrieval, deep pressure therapy and can alert a family member in the home. These tasks help during migraine attacks and with side effects related to my migraine disease.

NH: What tasks are most helpful for migraine? 

CC: When a migraine attack strikes at home, Clea will grab my migraine toolkit which includes medicines, emesis bags, instant ice packs and other tools. She can also grab a drink from the refrigerator. Clea will use her body weight to apply pressure to my legs called Deep Pressure Therapy. 

While in public, Clea wears a mobility harness that allows her to provide balance assistance, and forward momentum pulling. She can guide me to a seat, to the exit, and to a safe spot. She will also perform deep pressure therapy, while I am in a sitting position.

NH: What’s something that Clea picked up that is helpful during your migraine attacks? CC: The tasks that Clea performs for migraine that are most helpful are deep pressure therapy, medicine retrieval, dropped item retrieval, balance assistance, and forward momentum pulling.

NH: What tips do you have for people who are interested in getting their own service dog for migraine? 

CC: Service dogs are a great addition to a treatment plan for anyone with chronic migraine. If you are interested in a migraine alert or response dog, I recommend talking to your doctor to get their opinion. This will help you decide if a service dog will be best for you in the long run and what tasks may be most beneficial for the dog to be trained. I recommend doing research on different programs, and training options and finding the best thing that works for you and your lifestyle.

NH: What’s something you wish people understood about the relationship between service dogs and their handlers? 

CC: I wish people understood that service dogs change lives and service dogs save lives. Ignoring a working dog is not just practicing self discipline but showing the utmost respect to the disabled person. I am bringing a dog with me in public because she is trained to help me and I need her. 

To learn more about Candace and Clea’s incredible connection, follow them on social media. 

Candace and Clea on Tiktok

Candace and Clea on Instagram

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Cannon Tekstar Hodge
Head of Content and Social Strategy
About the Author
Cannon Tekstar Hodge is the Head of Content and Social Strategy for Neura Health. She also is a chronic migraine patient and migraine advocate.

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