SHELTON — Most people would panic if a 4-foot boa constrictor draped around their neck gave them a squeeze.
Daniel Greene, 46, credits the snake's embrace for helping him live a fuller life. So much so, in fact, that he has vowed to fight a tabled proposal by the federal government that would prevent him and many others from taking what they consider their service animals into stores and restaurants.
He said use of his reptilian aide gives him greater confidence when he leaves home.
"I was walking around playing Russian roulette a lot of the time," he said of the period before he began using the snake, named Redrock, as a service animal.
Greene, who lives outside Shelton, suffers from epilepsy, a neurological disorder characterized by unprovoked and reoccurring seizures. He said the snake, its reddish-brown body draped around him like a necktie when he's out in public, senses when a seizure is imminent and gives him a light squeeze. The warning gives him enough time to take medication to head off the attack, alert someone it's coming or move to an area where the thrashing is not disruptive.
Greene blacks out during these episodes, but his wife, Karen, said the snake's warning has headed off about a half-dozen seizures in Redrock's five months with Greene. This month, Greene has had four seizures at night — she refuses to let the boa constrictor share their bed — but none during the day.
"It's very rare now that he has had a seizure during the day," she said.
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