DOBBS FERRY, New York (WABC) -- After weeks of training, a service dog hopes to bring new life and independence to a young girl from Westchester County who faces a unique challenge.
Eleven years ago, Maddy Patino was born with a rare neurological disorder called congenital central hypoventilation syndrome.
"Maddy's had a nurse for every night of her life in her bedroom and as she's gotten older she is looking for more independence," said her father Michael Patino.
Initially, she wore a tracheotomy that would be hooked up to a ventilator at night since Patino is unable to breathe on her own while sleeping.
"Unlike with the typical sleep apnea, she won't wake up on her own. She will just stop breathing," Michael Patino.
At age six, a pacemaker was implanted to control her diaphragm, which is regulated by the device she wears like a purse while awake but requires a nurse to keep a watchful eye overnight, every night.
"It's a lot having someone in your home every single day, or every night even. So sometimes it gets a little crowded," said her mother Rachelle Stephens.
Their service dog Pike was trained by the organization ECAD in Connecticut, which specializes in pairing service dogs with individuals facing unique challenges.
Pike is trained to alert someone if Maddy Patino stops breathing and the machine begins to emit an alarm, because every second counts.
"He will barrel into the room if the door is closed, he will kick it open, he pounces on me, and he will rub his head into my chest and paw at me until I wake up," Michael Patino said.
Now with Pike, better days are in store.