Injured Tennessee Woman and Great Pyranees Help Each Other Heal and Walk Again
Are you ready for a real-life tearjerker? If so, keep reading.
Thanks to WBIR.com for this touching tale.
Love Dogs make a difference in East Tennessee woman's life
By: Beth Haynes, Reporter
After a near death experience, a dog and an East Tennessee woman find each other.
Charlene Caswell, a recovering quadriplegic was told she would never walk again. Due to a hip injury, a homeless dog named Schotzy was facing the same reality. Just after Valentine's Day, the two found each other. Now, they are walking together.
"I was so touched," says Charlene Caswell about the first time she and her husband Peter saw their two Pyrenees dogs. "We looked at each other and said, 'Oh my God, these are the dogs we have to get.'"
Now, Charlene and Peter and their four legged companions Yeti and Schotzy are one big happy family.
"Hi Schotzy. Hi sweetie," says Charlene as she pets the female Pyrenees on the head. "Yes, you're a good girl."
Even though Charlene and Schotzy are practically inseparable now, finding each other took years, perseverance and tremendous heartache.
To fully appreciate their relationship, we wind the clock back to a winter day in February of 2006.
"I remember the whole thing," says Peter.
"We happen to hit a patch of ice," adds Charlene. "And, the truck that we were in flipped over."
"I remember landing... asking her if she's all right," says Peter. "I sat there for 30 minutes before the ambulance got there holding her head."
"I couldn't really move anything," says Charlene. "I couldn't feel anything."
In a split second, life as Charlene and Peter knew it changed. Charlene's neck was broken. Within hours, she was in surgery at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
"As the clock ticked, I was freaking out," remembers Peter. "I thought, 'Oh, my God, this can't be good.'"
"They felt like the chances were that I would be in an electric wheelchair for the rest of my life," says Charlene. "It was really, really scary."
"It's a complete nightmare. You just can't believe it," adds Peter. "But, what's amazing about it, she never believed it... never!"
"There was something inside of me that said, you know, I'm not gonna give up," explains Charlene.
Days later, she was rehabing at the Shepherd Center, a catastrophic-care hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.
"Within about a week or so, we noticed that I started to have sensation and then movement on my left side," says Charlene.
Her spirits remained high. Weeks later, Charlene and Peter made a pact.
"We looked at each other and said, 'You know what, you don't shoot for 50%,'" says Peter. "So, I looked at her and said, 'You're going to walk out of here.'"
"And, I said," remembers Charlene. "'I'm not only gonna walk, next year, I'll be hiking.'"
After 4 months, Charlene, a quadriplegic, was well on her way as she walked out of the Shepherd Center.
"I've never been in the wheel chair," says Charlene. "At this point, I'm using a cane, sometimes walking without a cane."
On Valentines Day, February 14th, 2007, Charlene and Peter were given another gift.
"These 2 dogs come on Channel 10," says Charlene about a story that aired on Live at Five.
It featured two Pyrenees dogs at the Young Williams Animal Shelter in Knoxville, Tennessee. They were taken there after being found near Carson Newman College in Jefferson City. The female was badly injured. When the dogs first got to the shelter they were placed in separate kennels, but on Valentines Day, they were reunited.
"They told the story about them being separated," remembers Charlene. "And, her not doing well because she missed having him with her."
That reminded Charlene of her own recovery, and how critical Peter was to her own success.
"I couldn't have done it without him," says Charlene.
"Of course, the fact that she was hurt endeared her to Charlene even more," says Peter.
"I was like we can heal together," says Charlene. "We can do therapy together."
And, that is what the two, Charlene and Schotzy, have been doing together ever since. Charlene and Peter adopted both Schotzy and Yeti. Schotzy had life saving hip surgery. Now, she and Charlene are walking together.
"You can't imagine how much the two of them are the same," says Peter about Charlene and Schotzy.
"To see her run with Yeti is wonderful," says Charlene. "Even the Doctor said it was a miracle that Schotzy's hip went back into the socket. She still limps a little, but so do I, but we're both working on that together."