Tom Fucik has found a unique way to honor the memory of his best friend.
On Saturday, Aug. 21, all net proceeds from the Millstone of Iola Mills will be donated to the Humane Society of Waupaca County and Fox Valley Humane Association.
Fucik’s best friend was Mikey, a golden retriever. The dog saved his life in 2002.
Mikey was rescued by the Millstone owners Tom and Melody Fucik in 1994 as an abandoned animal. He was found wandering in Waupaca County and was placed with the Fucik family through the Fox Valley Humane Association. Shortly before Christmas in 2002, Mikey returned the favor by saving the life of Tom Fucik.
Feeling ill, Fucik went to bed to rest. Mikey detected Fucik was losing consciousness and repeatedly nudged him and barked to keep him awake. Mikey’s behavior was out of character. Once fully awake Fucik realized he was losing control of his right side and called for help.
“Somehow Mikey knew I was in trouble and not just sleeping,” Fucik said.
Following a battery of tests, he had surgery the next day at Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah. Afterward, the neurosurgeon relayed that Fucik would have lost his life if he hadn’t been kept awake to seek help.
Fucik is here today, a healed man due to the love and attention of a big yellow dog who had been discarded by someone else.
The neurosurgeon was handling two other cases like Fucik’s that Christmas.
“I was the only one who fully recovered,” Fucik stated. “I like to think it was due to the actions of my buddy.”
It was not an easy recovery. Fucik had to relearn how to walk, how to talk, how to think. Mikey was his constant companion during this time.
On Aug. 21, 2007, Mikey died at the estimated age of 15.
“On Mike’s last day, Melody and I made a promise to Mike that we would make sure his life meant something,” Fucik stated. “In Mike’s memory we want to help make sure other animals don’t have to start life as he did.
“This is the time to remember – because I can,” he added.
The Millstone is part of an historic complex of buildings set between Lake Iola and Main Street. They include an 1860 gristmill, the original engine house and the sawmill office, all listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Millstone restaurant’s decor utilizes salvaged architectural materials from beautiful old buildings set for demolition. The original turbine was rebuilt and put back to work in 1999 producing electricity from the waters that flow under the mill.
The Millstone specializes in handmade Italian ice cream, gelato, and features casual dining, an espresso bar and locally brewed beers. Located at 300 Main St., the Millstone opens daily at 11 a.m. For more information, call 715-445-2989.
The Fuciks purchased the Iola mill with the long-term plan of fixing it up and retiring in Iola. Before Fucik’s surgery, he ran three businesses and worked on the mill in his spare time. He served as business manager of the Golf Foundation of Wisconsin and Golf Course Owners of Wisconsin, and was a stockholder and manager of Crystal Springs Golf Course in Seymour.
“That all began to change in 2002,” Fucik stated. “Thanks to Mikey, I’ve been able to start over with my new focus being the Millstone and Iola Mills!”