So, you probably know by now that I have a soft spot in my heart for pets with disabilities. I was born into a family that already had a pet with a special need — my mom had a doxie named Pepper who had 3 legs but 4 paws. If you’re trying to work that all out, I’ll explain: One of his legs had two paws formed on it.
When I was about 6, we adopted a shepherd named Bo from our city. His story was he’d begun being trained for police work, but didn’t make the cut. That worked for me because this dog was my soul. I took him everywhere.
When I was in 4th grade, he developed what we assumed was hip dysplasia – though he wasn’t that old. Several fancy tests actually found he had a genetic condition that caused nerve degeneration in his back end and that he would not be a candidate for hip replacement surgery. This was back in the early 1990′s, before wheelchairs and all sorts of canine PT were popular. My dad threw himself into trying to make his own — and Bo tried every single prototype with the patience and enthusiasm only a dog can muster, but none really fit the bill. Thankfully, we ran into someone who knew someone whose chihuahua had a wheelchair — and we were able to MAIL AWAY AN ORDER FORM (remember that, before the INTERWEBS?) and wait patiently for 14 days while they made him one.
The JOY on Bo’s face when he was able to high tail it through the dog park at the same speed as his BFF, our lab/pit/rott mix Hammer, is permanently etched in my brain.
Since then, we’ve adopted a dog with terminal cancer (Ferris), and currently own a 100% deaf spaniel with spine issues (Bailey), another spaniel with joint issues who is currently losing her hearing (Emmie – and her surgery from last year was SO worth it!), and… well, Gizmo. Bless his heart, but we’ll just call him emotionally handicapped, LOL.
So every year, we’ve donated to PetsWithDisabilities.org. A wonderful organization. And then, about two years ago, one of Sean’s childhood friends started their own grassroots adoption/rescue for handicapped pets. They adopted a dog who turned out to have large special needs and she changed their lives — and now, with the help of volunteers and donors like me/you, they’ve grown and are helping do amazing things for animals with special needs all over the globe. Just this little husband and wife team in a small town in the Pacific Northwest — Heath’s Haven Dog Rescue.
And this year, Sean and I were VERY EXCITED to cover the costs of two wheelchairs for two of their dogs who didn’t have their own – and were stuck sharing with another dog, who was currently on bed rest. Somehow making it full circle and gifting mobility to two pups really made my soul sore – and I can’t believe I forgot to blog it so I could spread the word about their wonderful group!
This is Kiwi – a charming, loves-everything, pittie – in her OWN wheelchair! She arrived at HH’s with a broken back and permanent damage to her back end and ability to relive herself:
And Misty – the gorgeous two-tone eyed Husky, third from the left. She was given a second chance at a good life when she arrived all the way from Canada: