Dolly the Dog Helps Stroke Survivor Take Steps to Healing

Helene’s stroke left her unable to swallow or walk. Then she adopted Dolly, a sweet senior pup who brought joy to Helene’s recovery.

Helene + Dolly

Helene, an 84-year-old stroke survivor, was on her path to recovery when she met Dolly, a senior Chihuahua who helped her make strides toward a healthy, happy life.  

"Dolly and I take three to four walks a day as a part of my recovery. She puts purpose in my days."

“Take her to Grandma” were the words that saved my life. 

As a stroke survivor at age 84, I didn’t have much motivation. My husband, 89, and I had been searching for a companion at our local shelter for a while. We decided to stop by during a large adoption event. 

We’d visited a couple times before, so the staff at Providence Animal Center sort of knew me. The wonderful ladies working saw us and before I was able to say a word, we were standing in front of a small, senior Chihuahua named Dolly (they called her “grandma” because of her age). Dolly had come from a shelter in Arkansas. The shelter was overcrowded and needed to be evacuated due to flooding from a hurricane. Dolly’s eyes were large, and her tail was wagging. And it didn’t stop, all the way home. As soon as we put her in the car, Dolly was one of us.

Not that long ago, I couldn’t swallow. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t walk. Now Dolly and I take three to four walks a day as a part of my recovery. She puts purpose in my days. Many a morning, I would like to stay in my nightgown, but knowing I have to walk her gets me out of bed and dressed, and when we’re out, I see other people.

Literally, Dolly keeps me going. Sometimes I just don’t feel like moving, and I know she has to go out. When we’re out, I forget all of my aches and pains. My life would be so boring without her. I think it’s good for older people to have some purpose – to have another living thing. Dolly’s human to me.

Each year, Petco Love Stories invites adopters to share how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by Helene won Providence Animal Center in Media, Pennsylvania a 2021 Love Stories award.