Faithful Companion Restores Owner's Smile
However, Graham just calls him Tucker.
"He's such a good dog," she said of her nine-year-old Sheltie.
Graham has competed in dog shows since 1974. She raised Tucker from a puppy, trained him in obedience courses, and won awards with him. She even submitted Tucker's photo to the Hallmark company, which gave him his own greeting card.
Tucker and Graham were inseparable until she had a severe stroke this year which threatened to separate them permanently.
"I started feeling tingly in my right hand and my right cheek and I knew then it was a stroke," Graham remembered. "I don't have any feeling on the right side. It affected my right side. I couldn't feel anything, including my smile. I couldn't smile or anything."
Graham could not take care of Tucker while she spent more than a week in intensive care and underwent many months of therapy.
"She had to accept that loss of what had changed and she did that in a very positive way," said therapist Annelle Boland.
Now, Graham has regained her dexterity and her dog. After years of taking care of Tucker, he is taking care of her by training to be Graham's service dog.
"He'll open doors, turn off lights, that sort of thing," she explained.
So, Graham has regained her long-time companion and her smile, one that again includes both sides of her face.
"I wasn't smiling, so yes, it's good to smile again," she admitted. "There's a lot to smile about."
In addition to his greeting card, you can also see Tucker on some pet post-it notes which are available at Gerbes grocery stores.