As Paul Horton, a 59-year-old retired mechanical engineer, rolls his wheelchair around his Austin, Texas, home, his six-year-old golden retriever, Yogi, trails closely behind him. Yogi and Horton, who was paralyzed from the waist down two years ago in a cycling accident, have always been buddies, but now there is an unbreakable bond-all because of the day that Yogi ran away.
One October morning in 2010, Horton, an avid outdoorsman, climbed onto his mountain bike and took off through his neighborhood near Lake Travis. Yogi came along, as he had every morning for nearly three years, trotting happily beside his master. The two-mile route wound through hilly suburban roads to a narrow, forested trail. Shortly after turning around to go home, Horton approached a nine-inch-tall curb where the trail met the pavement. He had jumped the curb dozens of times before, but on this morning somehow didn’t get enough height, and the bike’s front wheel rammed the curb and twisted sharply. Horton, who wasn’t wearing a helmet, flew over the handlebars, slamming headfirst into the pavement. He was knocked unconscious. When he came to, he found himself lying crumpled on the ground near a cul-de-sac half a mile from home.
Photo courtesy of Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman