Maxwell–Medical Alert Service Dog

Dog Is My Co-Pilot
By Deanna Vaillancourt-Thompson MOT OTR/L, November 2020, Updated March 2021
medical alert dog

Maxwell Smart has been my medical alert service dog for 11 years. He is 12-years-old and in semi-retirement while his 5-year-old brother Jaxson (also a rescue) learns to handle Maxwell’s responsibilities. He has some big paws to fill.

Maxwell was rescued off a very busy freeway after being thrown from a car window as the previous owner drove off dumping him to die. I had a stick shift Mustang and saw him on the inside shoulder in pure fear. I stopped and yelled at him to get in my car. He did and clung to my shoulders and chest the rest of the way home.

As my dad says he fell into a gold mine. I was in the process of already waiting for a program service dog for nine months with no dog in sight. So I did my research and got help from a professional trainer on how to train Maxwell to be my much needed service dog. It took him about one-and-a-half years to become a full service dog and he has been my guardian angel since.

I’m an occupational therapist in a skilled nursing home where he brightens the days of many patients and staff. He has earned his AKC Title “Distinguished Therapy Dog” as he’s touched so many lives over the past ten years. He has also saved my life with the service dog aspect of his career. He is able to detect incoming sugar level crashes, incoming migraines and PTSD symptoms. He is my heart dog.

Photo: Deanna Vaillancourt-Thompson