An Overland Park duo has gone through their fair share of pain. She lost her leg in a car accident. He lost his career, and nearly his freedom. But together they've found true happiness.
To best understand Tim and Dixie's story, people need to know that Tim McHenry adopted the yellow lab mix from a shelter, in 2005, shortly after she had been hit by a car and lost her leg.
It was the beginning of something special.
"She is completely and unequivocally devoted to me, and I don't have a clue why. She rarely leaves my side," McHenry said of Dixie.
Their journey together has been so special that McHenry wrote a book about it.
"There were times when I was writing the book, I just had to put the computer down and say, ‘I need to stop this for awhile' and sometimes I wouldn't write for a couple weeks," he said.
That's because McHenry and Dixie's story is much deeper than just dog slobber and devotion. Little did he know that while Dixie was healing from her life-threatening injury, his life would be turned upside down too.
"When things got really dark for me, she was the tether that I clung to," McHenry said.
In 2006, McHenry resigned as daycare director of a Topeka, KS, church after he was accused of inappropriately touching a child.
"You begin to think everyone is looking at you, and that you're under a microscope," he said. "(It was) frightening to the point I began taking medication for panic attacks and anxiety."
While vehemently denying the charges, he said it was the lowest point of his life. So low that he contemplated suicide.
"I had stood on the banks of a big pond, and decided I was going to jump. I'm a lousy swimmer, so I knew I wouldn't be out there very long. I no sooner than stepped out on that ledge when she (Dixie) decided to go chase a goose," McHenry said.
What's odd, said McHenry, is that never before in the dozens of times they had been to the pond had Dixie ever shown any interest in geese.
"I found myself screaming at her for interrupting my imminent demise, and realizing the absurdity of that moment and then breaking down emotionally between laughter and tears," he said.
In 2007, a Shawnee County jury found McHenry not guilty. Looking for a fresh start he and Dixie moved to Kansas City, where he began a new career working with animals.
"I started a career in dog training and found that every bit as rewarding as what I did before, and the best part is I get to take my dogs to work," he said.
McHenry enrolled Dixie in agility training classes, and the three-legged dog took to it with a passion. When Dixie is now entered into an agility competition, she routinely scores better than her four-legged friends who are usually about half her age.
Life is good for McHenry and Dixie, who've learned to lean on each other during the rough times.
"As long as Dixie can do the agility thing, we're excited about that. Beyond that I'm excited about life in ways that I wasn't before and that, in and of itself, is good enough for now," he said.
Dixie has a busy weekend, she's in an agility competition in Blue Springs, MO.
People can find a copy of McHenry 's book, "A Leg to Stand On" on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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