Dixon the Dog Overcomes Paralysis and Gets a Second Chance at Life

Written by Tiffany A. Lacey, Executive Director of Animal Haven

At Animal Haven, we try to express every day the importance of pet adoption. There are so many statistics that make the case. The main one being millions of cats and dogs are euthanized each year in city shelters. But what we find works even more effectively to influence people to consider adoption are the personal stories. A little paralyzed dog named Dixon is one of these. Our staff person Sandi Schiffman told his beautiful success story in the written word, and we followed it up with a video. We dare you to not adopt after reading and watching his heroic story.

Photo Credit: Kendra Mara

One of the many services at Animal Haven that we are most proud of is the ability to take special needs animals. Dixon is a perfect example of a shelter animal with limited options. He was paralyzed from the waist down, which made him very hard to place with any family or shelter. Luckily, there are places like Animal Haven that will help with the recovery and placement of these special animals. And you can help too. Each time you adopt, you open a space for another cat or dog to find a loving home.

Please adopt your pets. Our staff wear shirts every day at the shelter that state, “Adoption is the hip option.” But more directly stated, it is the ONLY option. Dixon is living proof of why everyone should adopt a pet.

Here is his story as told by Animal Haven staff person Sandi Schiffman:

I remember when our executive director Tiffany Lacey called and said we were getting a 5-year-old paralyzed Dachshund. My gut reaction was no, don’t take him. He will end up holding the record for the longest stay at Animal Haven. But Tiffany has a soft spot for hard-core cases, so in came Dixon. She asked me to take the lead on his care. I didn’t want to get involved because it would break my heart. But one look into Dixon’s eyes and I knew I didn’t have a choice. Dixon came to Animal Haven very overweight and paralyzed, his back paws raw with open sores from dragging them. But his spirit was in excellent condition.

With the incredible generosity of our supporters, Dixon began an aquatherapy regimen on a treadmill and in a pool. Special wheels were donated so he was able to “walk” the mile to and from therapy. Additionally, we had several dedicated volunteers who worked with Dixon, massaging him and taking him for walks. When Dixon first stood on all fours to eat, we were almost in tears with excitement. But the day he was in the store while I readied his wheels, and he suddenly started walking around on his own!

I still worried about him getting adopted, until one day, a couple with two Dachshunds and a cat contacted us about adopting him. They lived in Cape Cod! He would have a yard to play in, beach to take long walks on, siblings to play with and humans to adore him. I went from worrying that this dog would never be adopted to thinking he could quite possibly be the luckiest dog in the world.

Watch Dixon’s journey from rehabilitation to adoption here:



Animal Haven is a nonprofit organization that finds homes for abandoned cats and dogs throughout the Tri-State area, and provides behavior intervention when needed to improve chances of adoption. Founded in 1967, we operate an animal shelter in Manhattan. We also provide programs that enhance the bond between animals and people.

Photo Credits: Kendra Mara


Jim Ven
Jim V2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Tammy knight0gibbons

Dixon has enriched our lives in ways we cannot begin to describe. He is the most tenacious, loving and funny little guy. We are so grateful for all that Animal Haven does each and every day for animals, all animals. Dixon stands out for sure, but make no mistake, he is one of many they work these miracles with. Please adopt!!

Tammy, Sean, Dixon (9), Matilda (8), Daisy (18) and Calvin (18)

Carrie-Anne Brown

great story/ending, thanks for sharing :)

Kamia T.
Kamia T4 years ago

GREAT GREAT story! I'm so glad to see a dog being rehabilitated. Truly heartwarming. Wish there could be so many more like him.

Manuela C.
Manuela C4 years ago

He's adorable!

Katherine Wright
Katherine Wright4 years ago

AWESOME...and yes I'm using all caps because this story just makes me SO HAPPY!

Sarah N.
Sarah N4 years ago

such a beautiful ending for such a beautiful and deserving little angel ... so happy for Dixon!

Meta Reid
Meta Reid4 years ago

The re-mapping of the brain is an amazing process. Brain plasticity was beautifully fostered by the therapy given Dixon. (It would have been interesting to see the motor activity map change) New neurons can grow and change brain by activity; please read "Train your Mind Change Brain" by S. Begley if you want to know more about human brain plasticity.

Carole R.
Carole R4 years ago

Nice story.

Andrew C.
Andrew C4 years ago

What happened with Dixon is a true miracle. Thanks to Animal Haven for taking him in and treating him so well so he could get the second chance he deserved!