Cienna Ditri was walking again. Her service dog, Piper, seemed barely able to believe his canine eyes.
Brimming with excitement, the 5-year-old wirehaired vizsla is seen in a video creeping slowly up a driveway beside his now-mobile owner walking—albeit in crutches—on her own two feet for the first time in years.
Though far from agile as she inched her way toward the house that sunny summer day, Ditri was walking nevertheless.
We wager her doting dog’s reaction to this development is the most adorable thing you’ll see all day.
Piper excitedly follows his master, Cienna Ditri, 28, as he sees her walk for the first time in years. (Screenshot/Viralhog)
Now, Piper and Cienna Ditri, his owner, will be able to go on walks throughout northern Michigan and surf again, just like in the old days. (Screenshot/Viralhog)
A disability inclusion consultant and model from Michigan, Ditri, 28, has suffered terrible ailments for the past decade. Those include hypokalemic periodic paralysis which rendered her wheelchair-bound for the last several years.
She and Piper used to enjoy hiking the great outdoors of northern Michigan and even surfing and boogie boarding together. Yet even as she lost her mobility, he remained loyal and loving right by her side.
“Piper has the best personality. If I don’t feel well, he will happily spend the day snuggling with me,” Ditri told The Epoch Times. “But if I’m wanting to spend a day exploring, he is just as happy taking it all in and sharing all those little moments together that make life so magical.”
Ditri has featured Piper on her Instagram—which she devotes to showing others what daily life with a disability is like for her. There, they are seen enjoying life to the fullest, before and during her gradually losing the ability to walk.
The two besties, Cienna Ditri and Piper, pose together in a shot featured on their Instagram. (Courtesy of chronicallypersevering)
Cienna Ditri and Piper indulge in a little selfie fun for their very own Instagram. (Courtesy of chronicallypersevering)
Ditri gets the short end of the stick in a playful chip-nabbing prank, courtesy of Piper the service dog. (Courtesy of chronicallypersevering)
Fortune smiled on Ditri when she found a promising treatment for her hypokalemic periodic paralysis at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. Last summer, she and her mother—and Piper, too, of course—made the trip and stayed at her aunt and uncle’s home in California.
They had 14 days to kill between treatments; meanwhile, they anxiously awaited signs of hope. Would the treatments work? Would she walk again?
“It was in California that I took my first few steps,” Ditri said, recalling the milestone moment. “I remember being incredibly overwhelmed with joy and excitement.”
Seeing her shaky but upright walking, Piper was “so joyful, excited, and supportive,” Ditri said. “He is always my biggest cheerleader and it was incredibly special to share that moment—and love-filled moment—with him.”
Her knees buckled under her weight on the driveway next to Piper that August day—which happened to be Piper’s 5th birthday. Piper appeared to share in his master’s triumph, probably anticipating all the wonderful moments that lay ahead, Ditri said.
“I think Piper knew that me learning to walk would make places we couldn’t go before as easily, like enjoying the outdoors on hiking trails or beaches, much more accessible to us,” she said. “And boy does Piper love doing those things together.”
Her recovery is the best birthday gift this service dog could ask for.
Their bond runs deep. Piper has saved Ditri’s life more times than she or her service dog trainer can count, she said. He has been trained to help her pick up dropped items, close doors and drawers, hit accessible door buttons, and get help when she needs it.
Moreover, Piper is trained to retrieve her medication and alert her before she passes out from allergic reactions, or before she has a periodic paralysis attack when her blood sugar is too low, or when she stops breathing.
It’s almost like Piper can read her mind, she said.
“He knows through his trained medical alerts when I’m not feeling well even before I do,” Ditri said. “Simply put, Piper is my very best friend.”