It is not merely a cliche’ that one must look for the rainbow after a rainstorm.
Once upon a time, a perfect little smooth fox terrier puppy was born in California. Her spectacular face was half-black and half-white; even one eye had black eye lashes and the other had white ones. She was lucky puppy who got to fly first-class to her new digs in Minnesota (a family friend brought her home with him after a business trip). “What a gorgeous, perfect puppy”, everyone on the plane remarked.
Piccadilly was a smart, spunky, and agile dog. She quickly learned tricks such as jumping through a hoop, playing dead, and rolling over. She could leap from chair to chair as easily as a squirrel jumps from tree branch to tree branch. Her family said, “She is so smart, clever and athletic that we should make her a circus puppy. Maybe she could perform at half-time at an NBA basketball game someday!” Her family had seen other dogs perform at half-time at the Target Center so they had big plans to take her to agility school so she could learn all of those nifty maneuvers.
Then one day, something terrible happened to this perfect fox terrier. It started out as pain in her right paw. Within 12 hours, it had progressed into full paralysis on the right side of her body. Piccadilly was suffering from a spinal cord stroke (an FCE, to be exact). This once nearly perfect show quality dog laid on her side, panting and unable to get up. Her doctors said she would probably never be the same and they warned that her course of rehabilitation would be extensive. Was she worth keeping or was it best to just let her go?
The family decided to help her recover. At first, Piccadilly could not move at all. She had to be supported to eat; stood up to go outside; and have her position adjusted to prevent cramping. Every day, her paw would be poked with a dry spaghetti noodle to see if she could feel anything, anything that would indicate some hope of recovery. Two weeks went by before she reacted at all. Progress was nearly undetectable until one day, a months later, she took her first steps….backward! Her family worked with her faithfully and she even went to the only canine physical therapist in the midwest who had an underwater treadmill for dogs! She recovered well but not completely. Indeed, she was never the same. Her course of rehabilitation resembled that of many patients who have a stroke, make progress but never return to normal. Such was Piccadilly’s fate.
So what ultimately happened to this perfect little puppy who had a big stroke and was never the same? She became the Fabulous Rainbow Puppy who accompanies her master on home therapy visits to people who have had a stroke just like her. Most patients want to see, “the dog who had the stroke” and when she limps into a room as if she were a queen, the bond is almost instant. Many dogs have been trained to visit elderly or disabled individuals. None are like the Fabulous Rainbow Puppy. She is one of them. No one dreamed that this stroke would make her so perfect.
This story is true and her colors are real. I know this to be so because she is mine.