Dog with Neurological Disorder Finds the Perfect Family to Help Her Thrive

Tilly shows her pet parents that when it comes to life changes, a little love and tenacity goes a long way.

Rachel + Tilly

Tilly was born with a neurological disorder, but found the perfect pet parents to help her thrive.

"Tilly has a neurological disorder. My husband is a special education teacher, and I’m a physical therapist assistant… we just couldn’t let her go."

Change is hard. I’m not sure I know many people who eagerly await big changes. Adopting a dog brings change: in our case, our dog has completely changed our lives.

Tilly the dog

Adopting wasn’t ideal. We lived in a rental at the time, and always said we would wait until we had a house of our own before we brought home a pet. We lived across the street from the shelter and I followed them on Facebook with the hopes of volunteering. Next thing you know, I’m sending a video of the sweetest little pup to my husband. She’s different. She has a neurological disorder. My husband is a special education teacher, and I’m a physical therapist assistant… we just couldn’t let her go. We wanted to help her, but we had no clue how much she would help us.

Tilly the dog

By the grace of God, we are the lucky ones chosen to love on Tilly girl. She immediately starts teaching us the value of perseverance as she continues to try and try again with walking on hardwood floors and learning to climb stairs. What she can’t do physically, she finds a way to tackle it mentally. It has been amazing to watch her transition and grow.

Tilly the dog with family

Another change came about. Moving away from the town we love with family and friends all around was one of the hardest things, and that’s what we did when my husband received a coaching job he couldn’t turn down. As excited as I was for him, I was dreading it. Like I said, change is hard. Because of Tilly girl, I am greeted everyday with the most wiggly welcomes and constant love. She gets me out of the house and into the sun. She sits on the couch with me and cuddles. She doesn’t know I’m in a new town with no friends. She doesn’t know that sometimes all I want to do is curl into a ball and cry. She loves me and wants to be with me.

Tilly the dog at the beach

Tilly expects cuddles and play time. She’s beat all odds and worked so hard, and she expects the same of me. She’s company when my husband is gone for 12-14 hours a day during football season. I don’t know that I could do this transition without her. Instead of feeling lonely, I know that I have her there to push me outside and to challenge me to love as she does. She doesn’t meet a stranger: instead, Tilly shows the same love to everyone. She’s taught me to be patient and kind, not to give up, and to love fiercely. She’s something that we never knew we needed, and she was given to us at a time that I would need her most.

I’m hopeful that soon I will love my new town. As it did with Tilly, it will take time to transition and grow. And I know Tilly will be by my side every step of the way.

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 Rachel won Greenville Humane Society in South Carolina a 2018 Holiday Wishes award.