There’s a particular quote spoken by Elizabeth Barrett Browning about her cocker spaniel, Flush, that I can fully relate to. She said, “His ears were often the first thing to catch my tears.” I, like many dog owners, adore my dog; she is my best friend, my confidant, my inspiration. She loves me unconditionally and I couldn’t imagine my life without her in it.
Vicki Lynn Jurney-Taylor would share my sentiment. Taylor has spinal muscular atrophy and has been confined to a wheelchair since she was a child. At age 53, she has defied the odds as doctors predicted she would have passed on long ago. She is the only individual in the United States who has this disease and is still alive.
Taylor is an avid animal lover and as her health deteriorated, her passion did not. Eight years ago, she formed Pet Pals of Texas to help the elderly and people with disabilities keep their pets. Volunteers have assisted over 1,000 clients care for their pets while on fixed incomes.
Taylor credits her inspiration to her Chihuahua, Summer, who she rescued from a puppy mill. Summer barks to alert Taylor’s husband and live-in assistant when Taylor has trouble breathing as she is on a ventilator.
Summer is a contestant in the El Rey Fido competition hoping to raise money for the Humane Society of San Antonio. Once neglected and close to death, Summer is now living the life. She has a stylist, photographer, and numerous high fashion outfits. Taylor hopes Summer’s participation in the contest will change “the perception that pets are disposable” and draw attention to San Antonio’s no-kill initiative.
Taylor said of Summer, “Spiritually, she has shown me how to love unconditionally” (KSAT.com, 2/15/12).