By Libby Hopkins
Octavia Stoppa, owner of All About Beauty in Brandon, has always been the person who helps anyone in need, even if the one in need is a dog. She rescued her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Poodle mix dog while she was at a friend’s house. The dog, which later became “LeLe”, was tied up in her friend’s backyard. Her friend didn’t want the dog and told Stoppa she could have her. “She knew I was sad because my dog had died not too long ago and I was willing to take her,” Stoppa said. She took LeLe into her home and the two were inseparable. Little did Stoppa know that LeLe was going to repay her for rescuing her by saving her owner’s life.
One night this past December, LeLe started acting strangely and would not let Stoppa sleep. “She would not let me got to sleep that night,” Stoppa said, “I thought she wanted to go outside so I let her out.” Stoppa then went to use the bathroom herself and that’s when she collapsed on the bathroom floor. She suffered a stroke. Her husband found her on the bathroom floor and called 911. Stoppa was in the hospital for weeks. She lost the use of her left side. The doctors are confidant that Stoppa will fully recover; it’s just going to take some time. If it wasn’t for LeLe being persistent and not let Stoppa go to sleep, she may have suffered the stroke in her sleep and died. “I saved her, so she saved me,” Stoppa said.
Dr. Christy Layton of Timberline Pet Hospital and Resort in Plant City has seen dogs trained to do a number of jobs from being seeing-eye dogs to medical alert dogs. “Medical alert dogs are trained to alert their owners to an upcoming medical condition such as low/high blood sugar in Diabetics, heart attacks, seizures, or even strokes,” Layton said. Although Layton is not Stoppa’s veterinarian, she feels that LeLe was responding to the subtle changes she may have noticed in Stoppa and she was trying to call her attention to it. “This is a wonderful story about the human-animal bond and it just proves that we do not fully understand the complexities of the amazing bond many of us have with our pets,” Layton said.
Stoppa still has a long road ahead of her in her recovery and she is thankful for all the help she has received from the community to keep her business running in her absence. She goes to physical therapy three times a week to help her walk and regain the use of her arm. LeLe is by her side every step of the way in her recovery. “Since the stroke, she has been very protective and won’t leave my side, especially in the bathroom,” Stoppa said. All About Beauty is located at 102 Mason St. in Brandon. Timberline Pet Hospital and Resort is located at 1704 Walden Village Ct. in Plant City.