Seizure alert dog Wadsley is helping Brogan Evans to get back to the lifestyle she enjoyed before she was diagnosed with epilepsy.

Before wonder-dog Wadsley came into her life, Brogan Evens was struggling to cope with up to four seizures a day.

Now, recently married Brogan, aged 23, can look forward to a near-normal life, safe in the knowledge that Wadsley will give her a 100 per cent 48-minute advance warning of an oncoming epileptic seizure.

As well as gaining profound peace of mind, Brogan has been able to resume an active lifestyle and can now go swimming and climbing mountains. She can even play rugby – with Wadsley sitting by the touchline and making sure she’s safe to continue by giving her a clean bill of health at half time!

Brogan developed epilepsy at the age of 17, when at one stage, she had up to 14 seizures a day. The cause was unclear, but she remembers sustaining a head trauma when she was 13 when, doing a back flip, she landed on her head and had to spend time in a neck brace.

At that time she was given the all clear; however since then she has suffered an array of problems, and her hopes for a career in the army as a dog handler had to be shelved.

“My life before Wadsley was miserable; I was depressed as hell,” says Brogan. “I was on medication but it wasn’t working, nothing was working. I knew what life was like before and I wanted that back. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t have a bath or a shower in case I had a seizure and drowned or fell and banged my head. I couldn’t cook or leave the house; so many of things that people take for granted I wasn’t allowed to do any more.

“I missed the independence I had before epilepsy.”

Brogan applied to Support Dogs for a seizure dog when she was 20, but due to huge demand the programme was closed at that time, and she didn’t hear anything for two years.

“Support Dogs was the last port of call for me, but I had given up hope a week before someone from the charity rang me to invite me to their open day,” says Brogan.

That phone call was the beginning of a completely new chapter of Brogan’s life. With the help of her Support Dogs’ instructor, Brogan and Wadsley began intensive training. Brogan says that it was always easy to put her absolute trust in Wadsley as the smart, fox-red Labrador never missed a seizure, right from the start.

She says:” He picked it up so quickly. I met Kevin, Bodie and Wadsley, who were all prospective dog partners, and had three seizures while I was at the training centre and Wadsley knew something was wrong – he was staring intensely at me.”

Although she had grown up with dogs, Brogan found it difficult to adapt at first to being with a canine companion 24 hours a day, but gradually the pair formed a successful partnership, graduating in February this year. Her seizures have reduced to about eight a month, with Wadsley alerting Brogan by persistently nudging her with his nose.

Brogan moved to Birkenhead to live with partner Sam, a firefighter whom she married in November last year, and after completing an apprenticeship in sports coaching is now looking for a job. The couple enjoy long walks on the beach near their home, and climbing mountains, and Brogan has started to swim regularly, with Wadsley acting as lifeguard on the poolside.

After getting consent from both her GP and neurologist Brogan has also started to play rugby union for local club Birkenhead Park Panthers. She is not worried about the risks of having a seizure during a game as Wadsley is inevitably on hand.

“Because he is used to going everywhere with me he has separation anxiety and wants to run around and have fun with me when I play rugby and barks when I leave him with someone on the touchline, so I got him a small pop-up tent to sit in during the game,” explains Brogan.

“He can still detect a seizure even though he can’t see me. Games of rugby are 40 minutes each half so at half time I run over to his tent and he lets me know if me if I’m OK or if I’m going to have a seizure - if the latter I get in the tent with him and have the seizure.”

When he’s not working Wadsley loves running around on the beach just being a dog, but “when he has his jacket he is the most focussed sensible dog ever.”

Adds Brogan: “Having Wadsley has made a massive difference to my confidence levels – people are always coming up to me and talking about him, which I’ve now got used to and enjoy. And I’ve had a huge improvement to my quality of life.  All the things I couldn’t do before I can quite happily do now. My mum bought me a bath bomb for Christmas because I could have my first bath, and of course Wadsley was in the bathroom, keeping an eye on me.

“The number of serious seizures has gone down – I have two to four a week – partly because I’m less stressed, and because I’m able to go out and live my life, which I couldn’t do before.

Emotionally I’m in a much better place too, and none of that would have happened if it wasn’t for Support Dogs and my best friend Wadsley.”