Foster Dog Helps High School Student Recover from Brain Injury

Cali found her paw-fect match in a pup named Mozi.

Cali + Mozi

Cali, a high school gymnast and pole vaulter, finds healing with the help of an adopted dog named Mozi.

"One day, when I was sick and exhausted after a five-hour neuropsychological test, Mozi came running over and snuggled right up with me. He knew I wasn’t feeling well and gave me exactly what I needed: unconditional love.”"

Two years ago, I was pole vaulting when I fell to the track and landed on my head. While recovering, I was hit in the head with a lacrosse ball, sustaining another concussion/brain injury. In addition to conventional treatments, my amazing doctor thought outside of the box and suggested that I consider getting a dog. So we began fostering puppies with Companion Pet Rescue.

Adopted Dog Mozi

“Shadow,” our seventh foster, came to us coughing, lethargic and glassy-eyed. After a month of
nebulizing, syringe-feeding and sitting with him in a tent with a vaporizer, he passed his vet check and went home with his adopters. By no fault of his own, he was returned to the rescue a few weeks later. We couldn’t let him go again, so a couple of days later he became our first four-legged family member.

Adopted Dog Mozi

“Shadow” was quirky and smart, much like the character “Mozzie” in White Collar. We changed the spelling to Mozi so it matched mine (Cali), and we became best friends. I believe we’re the paw-fect match — we even share the same adoption month and birthday.

Adopted Dog Mozi

I haven’t been headache-free since my injuries, and for months was unable to walk without help. I had to “retire” from contact sports, and required medical homebound tutoring during my senior year of high school. As a competitive gymnast and pole vaulter, I found my slow recovery more than difficult. Mozi became my 24/7 motivator — helping me with my physical therapy by bringing me for walks, assisting me in practicing hand-eye coordination by playing fetch and helping me build cognitive skills as he needs a schedule and reminds me (loudly) if I’m not on track. One day, when I was sick and exhausted after a five-hour neuropsychological test, Mozi came running over and snuggled right up with me. He knew I wasn’t feeling well and gave me exactly what I needed: unconditional love.

Adopted Dog Mozi

I committed to college for a physical therapy program but decided to defer a year. Watching my friends leave for school could’ve been a very lonely experience, but I have Mozi by my side and we do everything together. We hike, go to sunflower mazes and beaches, and he even helps me learn how to bake again by studying with me (and occasionally chomping on cookbooks… he’s a puppy!).

Mozi knows that he can always count on us, and I know that I can count on him. Whether it’s the look he gives me when he squeaks his toys, the way he wiggles his whole body and shakes his head when he sees me, or the way he holds onto my arm like he’s giving a hug, he certainly knows how to make life a little brighter.

My injuries brought a ton of unexpected change to our lives, but adopting Mozi was the best change I could’ve asked for. We knew we wanted to help him, but I never imagined how much he was going to help me.

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 Cali won Companion Pet Rescue & Transport in Jackson, Tennessee a 2019 Holiday Wishes award.