In the spring of 2008, Noelle Rivero announced to her parents, Tina and Dave, “It’s time!” When they didn’t understand, she further explained, “It’s time to start our Service Dog company!"
Noelle was diagnosed with epilepsy in her infancy and grew up under the close watch of her parents. No matter what she was doing, her parents were close by in case a seizure might occur. Even at school she was watched closely, where an aide took the place of her parents. This close monitoring naturally became an annoyance as Noelle got older and began seeking more independence, making her parents incredibly fearful. At that point, Tina began looking into getting a Seizure Response dog for Noelle.
As she searched, however, she continuously ran into closed doors; organization after organization refused to place one of their Service Animals with a ten-year-old child. After researching the laws surrounding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Tina and Dave discovered they could legally train a Service Animal for Noelle themselves; and they decided to do just that!
Tina and Dave began taking classes and learning everything they could about Service Animals and training. They eventually found and purchased a beautiful Golden Retriever who Noelle named Scarlet. As they began training Scarlet she also developed the ability to alert to seizures in advance, something that is not currently possible to train. Scarlet became Noelle’s first Service Animal just two years after Tina learned she could train a dog herself.
At this time, Noelle was able to reduce the frequency of her seizures from 3-4 a week down to 1-2 a week as the combined result of Scarlet’s alerts and a Vagus Nerve Stimulator or VNS (an implanted device that is something like a pacemaker for the brain). Scarlet consistently alerted to seizures 45 minutes in advance, allowing Noelle to use a magnet to activate her VNS and/or call for help. “I would say five to seven times a year, Scarlet saved my daughter’s life,” Tina says.
Scarlet gave Noelle the independence she’d always wanted, allowing her to start dreaming of what she would like to do when she grew up. “I want to train dogs for people like me,” Noelle announced to her parents one day. This dream didn’t change as Noelle got older and it was shortly before she graduated high school that she informed her parents, “It’s time!” Noelle’s Dogs Four Hope, a non-profit organization, was founded a few months later in September, 2008.
Today, Noelle is the President of a unique company that focuses on placing Service Animals with children. She is raising her first daughter, who just turned 3, and is her next Service Animal. She is an inspiration to all who meet her and says her biggest reward is seeing our dogs help people like her.