Aussie Mix Creates Brighter Future for Former Jet Pilot

By PetcoFoundation on Mar. 16, 2017


Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Dana McCrory won Central Oklahoma Humane Society in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma a 2016 Holiday Wishes award. 

For 64 years, Mac McCrory was invincible. A self-proclaimed risk-taker with an appetite for adventure, this former U.S. Air Force jet pilot and survivor of two civilian plane crashes was seemingly indestructible, until May 2014, when a malfunction in his heart caused him to suffer a series of ischemic strokes.

Mac spent two weeks in intensive care before moving to inpatient rehabilitation. He was 75% paralyzed. A week into rehabilitation, Mac got more bad news; he now needed cervical spine surgery. He re-entered inpatient rehabilitation for eight weeks followed by 18 months of outpatient therapy.

When Mac returned home, everything was difficult, if not impossible, to do. His world revolved around completing the tasks of daily living. While Mac’s determination never wavered, his progress in balance and mobility began to lag.

Enter MayBelle, a 12-week-old Australian Shepard mix-breed, that we adopted from the Central Oklahoma Humane Society. She had bi-colored eyes and was a brown-furred bundle of energy. She immediately connected with Mac and began leading him through her own brand of rehabilitation therapy.


Shortly after adopting MayBelle, Mac was working on his therapy mat in the middle of the living room floor. MayBelle calmly stepped onto the mat and began to mimic Mac’s movements. As he struggled to roll-over, MayBelle rolled onto her back. When he completed the roll and was safely on his back, MayBelle leaped up to lick his face and offer love and encouragement. When he struggled to move forward by inches on his hands and knees, she crept beside him. She continued licking, wagging and encouraging him to continue this new game she had invented.

Then MayBelle brought Mac a ball. Mac’s surgery and strokes left him with almost no range of motion. Picking up a ball was difficult, so throwing a ball for MayBelle to fetch was seemingly impossible. MayBelle sat quietly and waited while Mac pushed the ball, just barely, forward. She retrieved it from the six inches it rolled, brought it back and placed it in his lap. He pushed the ball forward again. She caught it before it hit the ground. She placed it in his lap again. This time, Mac struggled to stand, made a quarter arm movement and threw the ball a little further. MayBelle had taught Mac how to throw again.

Mac began adding MayBelle’s version of therapy -- rolling, crawling, throwing and retrieving – into his daily routine. Mac’s core strength improved and his shoulder movements became more fluid. Each time, the ball went a little farther.


 MayBelle loves to play ball, but with everyone else, she puts the ball on the ground. With Mac, she places the ball in his lap. She sits sweetly beside him, licks his hand for encouragement and patiently waits as he struggles to pick up the ball. She continues to inspire her brand of therapy.

Her unconditional love has brought joy, laughter and energy into our lives, and created a brighter future for Mac.

Learn more about the Petco Foundation by visiting www.petcofoundation.org.

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