The holidays have been on hold at Terry Ellrick's St. Petersburg home ever since his guide dog, Abbey, was swiped by a car a day before Thanksgiving.
"My whole world just ended. When she got hit, I got hit at the same time," Ellrick said Tuesday.
Abbey was hit by a car along 5th Avenue North in St. Petersburg. The driver of the car never stopped and St. Petersburg Police still don't have a suspect.
"I taught Abbey to love. And I love. There's no hatred in our life. And if the driver would come up right now, Abbey would go up to her, or them, or him, whoever...Abbey would give them a kiss," Ellrick said.
Still, the impact from the accident left the service dog facing the fight of her life. Vets at Tampa's BluePearl Animal Hospital had to perform an emergency surgery to repair a tear in her abdomen that was leaking poisonous fluids throughout her body.
"They were loving her 24/7. BluePearl did not give up on her. It was day and night," Ellrick said.
The constant care, paid for through community donations, turned out to be a "tail" of success. After a week's worth of separation, Abbey was finally returned to her counterpart's trembling arms.
"You're going home to Daddy! Wanna go home with Daddy, huh?" Ellrick squealed during the emotional reunion.
Now, Ellrick says they can finally get to celebrating the holiday season. His home and heart are complete, with his four-legged family alongside him.
"The true meaning of Christmas now is having her home. It's the best thing I ever wanted," Ellrick smiled.
Abbey's extensive care was paid for entirely through community donations. BluePearl Animal Hospital tells FOX 13 the total cost of care added up to $7,000.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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