Adopted Dog Brings Hope to Teen with Quadriplegia

After a tragedy, Buddy’s love for his boy helped bring a family back together.

Brandon + Buddy

After 15-year-old Brandon suffered an injury that caused him to be diagnosed with quadriplegia, Buddy, a dog who needed a second chance, became the companion he needed.

"I honestly can’t describe the moment Brandon met his dog except to say that instantaneously Buddy knew Brandon. I mean truly knew him — emotionally, spiritually."

Years ago, I thought I had it all — healthy son, great marriage. My husband and I were incredibly proud of our 15-year-old son, Brandon. He was flourishing in high school — 4.5 GPA, varsity letterman, and such a wrestling star that colleges were taking note. We loved attending the matches. More importantly, he loved the thrill of wrestling, the triumphant “whoop” when he would finally pen his opponent. Our family felt that life was just as it should be — until one day, it wasn’t.

Adopted dog Buddy

We were cheering one day as Brandon was hashing it out with an opponent. Suddenly, he slumped — just stopped moving. My husband and I could not believe our eyes. “He’s just dehydrated,” we thought. “He’s passed out from the heat,” we promised. The crowd’s murmur came to complete silence as the wail of a lone siren pierced the gym only to be joined by a cacophony of police, fire, and ambulance sirens. We rushed to Brandon’s side as we promised he would be okay.

I remember little about the ambulance ride — only my prayers over and over for Brandon to keep breathing. Doctors shared confusing words about Brandon’s prognosis… words like “severe” and “catastrophic.” And then the word we couldn’t believe we were hearing to describe our robust, healthy, 6-foot tall son: quadriplegic.

Adopted dog Buddy

Brandon’s life completely changed that day; gone was his hopeful grin, his contagious laugh, his deep voice. As we learned to care for Brandon, he slipped further and further into darkness and despair. His depression became a palpable presence — a seemingly never-ending pool of sorrow. Until one day Brandon decided to do the only thing he knew would end his pain: he chewed through his own cheek in an attempt to bleed to death.

Desperate to bring some hope into Brandon’s life, we were shocked when he asked for a dog. “A dog?” we wondered. Honestly, we weren’t too hopeful. How could a dog help our son? Still we decided to adopt a poor dog who had been tossed away after his owners moved.

Adopted dog Buddy

I honestly can’t describe the moment Brandon met this dog who we now call “Buddy,” except to say that instantaneously Buddy knew Brandon. I mean truly knew him — knew him emotionally, spiritually — seemed to understand that Brandon was not meant to be disabled, vulnerable. Today, Buddy brings an inexplicable joy into our house—a relieved joy because of the practical ways he helps Brandon. Yet also a contagious joy in the way he connects and communicates with Brandon.

Buddy strategically positions himself so that he is “eye to eye” with Brandon, and their silent
communication is stunning to witness. Buddy knows when Brandon wants to move from room to room. Buddy calms Brandon at night so he can sleep peacefully. Buddy loves Brandon unconditionally, and Brandon loves Buddy with that same fervency. And in the two years since Buddy became Brandon’s constant companion, we once again see that contagious grin, that hopeful smile, and we know that Buddy has brought our son back.

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Vicki won Two by Two Rescue League in Helena, Alabama a 2019 Holiday Wishes award.