Jim and I got the one thing we wanted for Christmas this year when our dog Gifford rallied after a very scary illness.

If you've never heard me talk about Gifford, let me give you a little background. He's 2 years old and is a mix of German Shepherd, Husky, Hound, Springer Spaniel, and who-knows-what-else. We named him Gifford after noticing that the black stripes on his nose looked like melting hot fudge and his coat was vanilla-colored on the bottom and butterscotch-colored on the top.

The end of last week, Gifford started having seizures, which is, apparently, not unusual for dogs these days. No seizures are good, but most dogs have less serious seizures that cause their legs to stiffen and their bodies to go rigid. However, Gifford had grand mal seizures, complete with whole-body tremors and loss of control of his bodily functions, followed by a period of pacing during which he was partially blind, so he'd run into walls and furniture. It was horrifying.

We took him to the vet, who prescribed two medications for us to take home, that they hoped would stop the seizures. But we were cautioned that he may have suffered brain damage and we may never really get him back. The vet didn't seem very optimistic but wished us well. During last week's vacation from work, Jim and I spent that first 24 hours hoping and praying that he'd get better, while accepting the fact that he may be gone by Christmas.

But we underestimated the strength of our 2-year-old mutt. By midweek, he was nearly back to normal. The biggest hiccup we've found is that he's reverted to his puppy days, in some ways. We had to train him to go potty outside again (although he picked it up very quickly) and he's lost all sense of our yard boundaries and often trots off to meet the neighbors. In addition, he doesn't run much anymore, which was one of Gifford's favorite things to do. But we believe he'll get that back, in time.

I've never been one much to believe in miracles. But Gifford has changed my mind. His recovery was a true Christmas miracle and we're so blessed that he found his way back to us. He'll be on medication for the rest of his life, but it's a small price to pay for having our boy greet us every day with his big doggy smile.

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