One thing that most people love about dogs is the loving bond they have with their owners. This is especially true when that dog becomes a hero and saves a person’s life. The intelligence, heart, and loyalty of a dog really come through in these situations. And although there are many relationships between dogs and owners that are less than heroic, it is these stories that bring home the beauty of one’s relationship with their pet.
The love that exists between Paul Horton and his Golden Retriever, Yogi, exemplifies this kind of relationship. A November 2012 Reader’s Digest article
tells the story of Horton cycling accident and the miraculous role that his precious Yogi played in saving his life. Since the accident, their bond has only strengthened and the two are nearly inseparable.
There was already a strong bond between them prior to October 2010. One morning that month, Horton decided to go for a bike ride. Horton, an outdoorsman and athlete, grabbed his mountain bike, climbed on, and went meandering through his neighborhood near Lake Travis, Texas. Like every other morning when Horton prepared for a ride, Yogi’s ears perked up. He looked at his owner and followed Horton outside. Together, the two raced through the neighborhood feeling the cool, fall breeze and getting the exercise they both love.
They continued along hilly, suburban roads until they arrived at a narrow, forested trail. They continued through the tall trees until Horton made a quick turn to head home. At the edge of the forested trail and suburbia, a 9-inch curb stands tall where the path meets the pavement. Usually, Horton easily jumps the curb with plenty of air space and lands feet ahead. But on this morning, he didn’t quite get enough air to clear the curb. His front wheel rammed into the concrete and while his bike stayed put, he flew over the handlebars and landed on his head. He was knocked unconscious and remained crouched and injured on the ground for some time. He was about a half mile from home.
Yogi the Golden Retriever, of course, was right next to his owner, and he was eager to continue on. Once Horton woke up, he tried to get up but blood filled his mouth and paralysis kept him from moving. But he could speak and he used his words to communicate with Yogi. “Go home,” he said to his companion, “Go get Shearon.” Shearon was the name of his wife, a name that Yogi understood. He also understood the words “Go get” and “Go home”. But Yogi refused to leave. In fact, Horton continued to repeat those words for 45 minutes commanding Yogi to leave. Finally, the dog did as his owner instructed and he ran for some help.
On his heroic run home, Yogi ran by neighbors that knew Horton and his dog well. They thought it curious that Yogi was running the neighborhood alone, without his beloved Horton. Yogi ran up to them and within seconds ran away again, far enough as though to communicate, “Follow me”. He continued to return and run away, until the neighbors understood. Yogi led the couple to where Horton lay.
The neighbors called for help and soon Horton was at a nearby hospital. His first two visitors were his wife and his dog.
Two years later, Horton continues to recover from his paralyzing accident. Although a wheelchair limits him, his physical movements have improved. Just like the muscles in his legs, the relationship he has with his Golden Retriever has only gotten stronger since the accident.