(02/25/19) The Crossett Community helped one of its own receive life again. Through various fundraisers, some residents in the town were able to fully donate funds to Felicia Toler for a service dog.
“I’ve been in the pit and felt like I had no hope at times in my life,” said Toler.
She has had seizures since she was 15. She visited doctors all over the United States to try and diagnose her issue but there was never an answer.
Soon, she found relief when she visited the Mayo Clinic. They diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder, stemming from being sexually assaulted as a teen.
“I kind of thought PTSD was something for soldiers,” said Toler.
She’s been through shock treatments, several therapies, and even went to Chicago three times for experimental stellate ganglion blocks, similar to what’s given to soldiers. Still, nothing was able to relieve her of her sudden episodes.
“I just pass out,” Toler said. “Usually it’s just if I hear, smell, or feel anything that is fearful to me.”
Toler is married with two daughters. She’s lost all independence as a working mother and wife.
She decided to take action though when she heard about service dogs. One simple facebook post put her in contact with Tim Franks from On Command Training Academy in Joplin, Missouri.
That post in Decemeber 2018 led the community to take action as well. #BringEverettHome was a phrase coined by many to help Toler get a newness of life.
“This gave me hope,” she said. “My community raised all the money.”
Her service dog, Everett, is an alert dog that is trained to assist Toler when she’s having a seizure. The ultimate goal is for Toler to change the way she thinks when she’s in stressful situations. Everett will provide her assurance that everything will be okay.
“He’ll become a velcro dog,” said Franks. “He sticks to you like glue regardless of what’s going on.”
Everett will be Toler’s trusted companion and guardian. He’ll be able to help Toler redirect her focus, create space for her in public and eventually alert Toler’s husband, through a device, when she does have a seizure.
“There’s going to be a point where he is going to know me so well and start sensing my fear and my anixety that he’s going to be able to calm me and I will eventually not pass out anymore,” said Toler.
Franks will come once a month for the next four months to help train Felicia and Everett. Once they get that bond, they’ll be a certified team.