HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Eighteen-month-old Kinley Golden, her father says, had never been sick a day in her life. Six days ago, that changed in an instant.
The bubbly toddler is now in PICU at Texas Children's Hospital in the Texas Medical Center, recovering from a dog bite that compressed her skull and caused a stroke.
It happened not as the result of a stray animal that targeted Kinley, but at her grandparent's home in Louisiana. The dog was the grandparent's pet springer spaniel, who was calm, well-trained.
"I'd never seen a better dog," said her father, Jeremy Golden.
His daughter was playing with the dog last Saturday night, her grandfather with her, when Golden said he heard his father scream. He rushed outside, saw the dog biting his daughter's head. He tried to pull him off the child, but when that didn't work, he bit the dog.
Kinley was bleeding badly. Golden is an ICU nurse at a Houston-area hospital. He instinctively did what any emergency responder would do, kept pressure on the wound. He and his father drove to a nearby town where an ambulance crew was waiting. She was given a blood transfusion and airlifted to a Shreveport hospital.
During the first 72 hours, the girl suffered a stroke. Eventually she was stabilized and able to be transferred to Texas Children's Hospital.
"She's improving bit by bit," her dad said. "Her face wasn't injured, but she had to have part of her skull removed for brain swelling."
Kinley's mother is a nurse as well, and co-workers have been donating their paid time off to allow the parents to spend time with their daughter. There are also fundraising efforts to help them cope with enormous medical bills.
Golden is a stoic father, who's seen a lot of trauma patients on the job.
"Nothing prepares you for when it's your own child, " he said.
He also has a message for other families. "This was a great dog, but he wasn't raised around children. If your kids are around a dog, you need to be very cautious before you let them anywhere near an animal."
For now, the Goldens are staying by their daughter's bedside, praying for a complete recovery.
"She's a fighter," her dad says. "We know she'll make it."
A GoFundMe account under the name "Kinley Golden" has been set up to help with medical bills.