The first inductee into the VVMA’s Animal Hall of Fame tonight is Dixie, an 8 year old beagle owned by George Chappell of Windsor, VT.. Dixie was nominated by VVMA member veterinarian Dr. Sandra Waugh.
After losing his wife of many years, George turned to Dixie for friendship and companionship. Her sparkling personality and wagging tail always put a smile on his face even during his time of grief. In September of 2003, Dixie suffered a prolapse of a vertebral disc. This condition left her with no bladder control and she was unable to use her rear legs. She also lost her ability to wag her tail, though not her will to do so. Although the prognosis was very guarded for full recovery, George insisted on giving her every chance possible.
Dixie was hospitalized for several weeks where she received medical treatment, nursing care and physical therapy. Early on, there was little indication that Dixie was regaining the use of her legs. George did not give up, however, and visited her everyday at the veterinary hospital. Dixie was always so excited to see him. Her eyes would light up with joy and she would bark with enthusiasm. Her recovery was slow, there were many set backs and at times it seemed that Dixie would never recover. One day upon George’s arrival, Dixie wagged her tail! From then on, there was no looking back. Dixie was discharged into George’s care for continued physical therapy and nursing care including nice warm soaks in the bathtub. In the weeks following, Dixie regained her bladder control, was able to get up on her haunches and happily pulled herself around using her front legs. Soon she was standing on her own and taking her first tentative steps.
As Dixie recovered, so did George. He knew his wife was always near, giving Dixie and himself the strength they needed to continue on. The devotion between Dixie and George exemplifies the strength of the human-animal bond, which has given them both a reason to live. Their bond is so unique that George’s physician has written directions stating that George and Dixie are never to be separated.
Dixie is an ambassador of good will and an inspiration to all of us. The VVMA is very pleased to induct Dixie into the Vermont Animal Hall of Fame in the Companion Category.