Prepare yourself for an amazing story and tale of strength and courage!
Doug: Introduce yourself and your dogs!
Laura: Hiya! My name is Laura Beck and I am dog mom to two German Shepherds, Lady and Strider. They are my saving grace, all my laughs and all my smiles. None of us knew our lives would drastically change at the end of last year, but it has. We are fighting to keep life as adventurous as possible. Even with me now being paralyzed from the waist down.
Lady loo is our rescue. We adopted her November 19, 2013. She had heartworms, half her right ear, was more than 30 lb underweight and had extreme anxiety issues. She now is heartworm free, normal weight, but still struggles with anxiety. Strider is our sable Czech GSD (working line) who was bred by the amazing Angie Young of Camelot Shepherds in Soddy Daisy, TN. He is my absolute best friend. We play like kids and his humor keeps us on our toes. He literally does things to make my husband and I laugh, I can’t spend enough time with him. I always want more.
D: If you don’t mind, please tell us about your accident –
L: For Thanksgiving of 2016, my husband and I went down to Baton Rouge to spend time with our family and brought the dogs along as most of our time was spent at camps with the fam; tons of land and animals for them to chase. We finished up with a birthday celebration for my husband on Nov 28 as his birthday is Nov 29. His dad begged us to stay home due to the nasty weather we would be driving through. Jacob and I were headstrong about leaving that night because we wanted Jacob to have a relaxing birthday.
With our two dogs and all our gear packed up, we headed off in the rain. I fell asleep without a seatbelt on, and Jacob was fueled by Red Bull. At 11:55pm we hit a puddle of water that sent our car into a fury, hydroplaning, flipping twice and rolling over a tree. The roof of the car went into my head; Jacob initially thought I was dead and my whole memory from the night is black. I can remember voices and sounds but no more than that.
Jacob told me he opened the liftgate after and Strider jetted off to the woods in the median and sat, terrified. Jacob finally coaxed him back. The tow truck man let Jacob and the dogs sit in his cabin area of his truck until they got me out with the jaws of life. Luckily, Jacob and the dogs left with no scratches or breaks. (Strider has struggled with major PTSD from the wreck. He now has serious anxiety when there is a storm. If we are in the car and it is raining, he climbs in the front seat on my lap. In the house he curls up in a ball wherever we are, pants heavily and sweats from his nose).
The tow truck man took Lady and Strider for us and Jacob came in the ambulance with me. That night family rushed to the hospital in Jackson, MS. From there I wouldn’t see my fur babies except on FaceTime for two months. I would also be told that I suffered a spinal cord injury that has left me paralyzed as a quadriplegic. Which means almost no finger movement and absolutely no movement waste down. I was and still am heartbroken. Our biggest hobby is hiking with our dogs. I still don’t know If I will ever walk in the woods again. I don’t know if I will ever get to use my hands fully again. We would be in hospitals and inpatient for two months. Through all this there wasn’t a day I didn’t miss snuggling and playing with with my pups.
D: How did the dogs first react to this? Did they jump all over you in the wheelchair like – “Hey mom! What’s going on?” I know mine would!
L: February 5 we went to pick them up. They were INSANE; jumping over my wheelchair, licking me, grabbing my neck and legs with their paws. It was such a sweet reunion. They were curious about the wheelchair, but they seem to be getting used to it. Strider is having a rough time considering we’re having to re-train a lot of what he has learned.
I now am currently away from them again for rehab at Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA. It is so hard to be away from my pups as they literally keep me mentally stable. My stint here started April 11 and will go until June 16.
D: You do a lot of training with them, tell us about that.
L: I cannot wait to get back to them and continue working on Strider’s training. We do lots of obedience, protection and control training. He is so smart. It takes just a few sessions to teach him new commands. A lot of this has to do with the bonding we have with each other. I believe your bond and friendship with your dog is the most important aspect before beginning strong control training. The stronger your bond, the more your dog will want to work for you. I believe German Shepherds are one of the smartest breeds, as well as one of the most intuitive and empathetic breeds. However, at the end of the day your dog won’t have fun training if you’re not. The wheelchair does create a barrier in ways but as long as I push past this barrier with all my fight, Strider will too.
We are going to continue training and being active through all this. I will not give up. No, our lives will never be as easy or simple again, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a REALLY great life.
D: Do you think there’s something special about Shepherds and their ability to provide us with comfort after an accident like this?
L: I’m lucky to have two of the best friends who are covered in fur and give slobbery kisses. They know when I’m sad, when I’m in pain and they are there to cheer me up or just sit next to me. They are my family and I wouldn’t change a single thing about either of them. A dog is the only thing that can love you better than you love yourself. Both Strider and Lady keep me fighting daily to be the best quadriplegic dog mom I can be.
D: Any last thoughts?
L: If anyone has further questions please feel free to DM me on Instagram (@beckpack4).