Dog Saves Man Paralyzed in Biking Accident

Austin, Texas


Posted on December 6, 2010 at 9:23 PM

Updated today at 10:21 AM

This story sounds like something out of a movie: A freak accident leaves a cyclist unable to move, so his dog takes over.

Five weeks ago, on Oct. 30, Paul Horton set out for his morning bike ride. As always, his dog Yogi, went along for the run. However, this ride would end like no other and offer proof why dog is “man’s best friend.”

Paul Horton, 57, wound up at St. David’s Rehabilitation Hospital after he failed to negotiate a seemingly little jump from trail to paved road near Lake Travis.

“I had probably done that 100 times, 200 times,” said Horton.

But on the morning of Oct. 30, he did not.

“I went over the handle bars and landed on my head on the concrete … and life changed,” said Horton.

Life changed because he was now paralyzed from the chest down. Horton lay motionless for 45 minutes. With no one in sight, he realized his four-year-old golden retriever, Yogi, who had been along for the run, was still by his side.

“I expected him to behave like Lassie and run down to the police station and tap out my location in Morse code or something,” said Horton.

Yogi did not do that, but did something just about as impressive. Horton’s neighbor, Bruce Tate, recalls walking down Mountain Trail with his wife when they were met by Yogi.

“Yogi is a quiet, happy dog, he’s never noisy at all, but he was barking furiously to get our attention,” said Tate.

The Tates followed Yogi throughout the wooded area and down the hill. When they saw Horton, they called 911. To this day, the Tates wonder what would have happened if Yogi had not interrupted their walk.

“I don’t think we would have seen Paul without Yogi,” he said. “I think Yogi saved his life.”

“For somebody who cannot move and cannot ask for help, you can develop a pressure ulcer, you develop an infection, a clot, and you can die if you are not rescued soon,” said Dr. Juan Latoree, the Medical Director of St. David’s Rehabilitation Hospital. “So I think the dog was critical.”

“He is my hero, I mean he is my hero. It is possible that if he had not done what he did, they might have walked right on by and gone down the road and there is no telling when somebody else would have come by,” said Horton.

Horton has some movement in his arms, hands, and upper body. His rehab specialist says in just a month he has made the kind of progress it takes some patients a year to achieve.

Horton and his wife Shearon are extremely grateful to St. David’s, their friends and neighbors, and most of all, to Yogi.


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