Blind dog plunges 11 stories in Florida and lives to wag its tail

September 07, 1993|By Orlando Sentinel

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. -- It's probably just as well Paco never saw what happened.

The fluffy, white bichon frise, blind from cataracts, wandered off a condominium balcony Saturday and plunged 11 stories to the lawn below. But now he's greeting visitors as though nothing had happened -- if you didn't notice the broken right leg and a few bruises.

"It was quite a feat," said owner Frank Woods, 57, of Orlando. "We call him wonder dog."

The 10-year-old pooch took a wrong step about noon Saturday while lounging on a balcony at Southwinds condominium with Mr. Woods and his other dog, a Yorkshire terrier named Brandy.

Mr. Woods said he was watching Brandy, since laid-back Paco never ventures far alone. Then he glanced at his other pet.

"I saw the tail go over," Mr. Woods said. "I thought it was all over then. I looked down. I thought he was gone."

Richard Turner, a psychology professor at the University of Central Florida, and his wife, Beverly, saw Paco hurtle past their second-story apartment.

"We were just finishing a late breakfast, and out of the corner of my eye I saw something go by the balcony," Mr. Turner said. "I thought it was a surfboard."

When he heard a thud, Mr. Turner went to investigate and found the 10- to 15-pound dog lying on his side and breathing. It had fallen 110 feet.

Mr. Woods, a former engineer, calculated Mr. Paco's speed at 40 mph when he slammed into the grass. Mr. Woods and others said the ground may have been soft from recent rain.

Southwinds residents flagged down Volusia County lifeguards Mark Brown and Curt Szabo.

"I'm a canine lover myself, so we thought we'd do what we could do," Mr. Brown said.

With a little ingenuity, the pair fashioned a stretcher from a human leg splint they cut down the middle.

Paco was delivered to Smyrna Veterinary Hospital, where Dr. Andy Mozlin treated the dog for the broken leg and a bruised bladder.

Dr. Mozlin said he once cared for a cat that fell nine stories, but that he had never seen anything like this. Paco went home eight hours later, after Dr. Mozlin found no signs of internal bleeding.

"It's incredible, but he left here tail wagging," Dr. Mozlin said.

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