Loyal companions stay by side on long path to recovery

Loyal companions stay by side on long path to recovery

Alocal woman has a lifechanging tale of recovery after surviving a head on collision in Keith earlier in the year with her four legged friends.

Mount Gambier teacher Sarah McDowell was travelling home from Adelaide on January 2 when a New South Wales driver failed to give way at a T junction just outside of Tailem Bend causing a head on collision at speeds of 110kph.

As a result of the crash, Ms McDowell was transported to the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) where she was treated for a fractured pelvis, hip and a broken rib.

All three dogs who were travelling with Ms McDowell miraculously survived the accident with her friend Phoebe Judd from Tailem Bend arriving on the scene to collect the dogs and take them to a vet to be checked.

Once checked by veterinarians and given clearance, Ms McDowell was reunited with her assistance dog Cali which she described as “the happiest feeling”.

“We have a very close bond and to actually hug her while she was snuggling into me in the RAH hospital bed was a huge relief for us both,” she said.

“We had both just survived something that none of us should have.

“Being a medical assistance dog, once she was veterinarian cleared herself and after a further five days observation, a friend was able to bring her into the RAH to visit me for a couple of hours a day until I was capable of looking after her again.

“My pain was too immense for the first couple of days to look after Cali in the RAH, she then stayed with me in the hospital for the remaining two days before we were both flown back to the Mount Gambier Hospital by the Royal Flying Doctors Service.”

Ms McDowell said her canine companions have aided in her ongoing recovery.

“The dogs have certainly supported my recovery and have kept my spirits up,” she said.

“I was having vivid flashbacks after the accident, all based around the fact that no one could free the dogs from the travel crates in the vehicle while others were shouting it’s going to go up, meaning it’s going to go up in flames.

“The boot and the back seats had jammed on impact, trapping two of the dogs in their metal crate.

“It was a race against time to free the dogs from the very thing that had also protected them. That panic just kept replaying.

“However, once we were all reunited at five weeks post the accident, my flashbacks instantly stopped. I think I just needed to have all of my dogs back with me to truly believe that we were all going to be 

“I know that I still have many more months ahead of me before I can take the dogs for a normal walk around the lake, however once this pain stops I am looking forward to rebuilding the lost muscle and returning back to a normal active life with my dogs.”

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