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:



Be a Good Human.

May 22, 2014 · 3 comments

I had a moment in Target the other day.

Just one of those weird little moments where the universe reaches out and reminds you to get off your high horse and slow down, breathe, and be a tolerable human.

You ever get those?

Last Friday, one of our cats went missing.

I’d been a hot mess. As I should be. It put me on edge and drowning in worry and being frustrated that it was one of those “out of my hands” situations. I had all the worst thoughts (I’ve watched a lot of serial killer beginnings type shows, mmkay?) and it was eating me alive that all I could do was obsessively notify everyone on this half of the planet to be sure if they found him, they’d know to call me — but that I had zero control over whether someone WOULD find him or that zero harm had befallen him.

So my daily mission was endless flyers, endless emails to postings and shelters and rescues and vets, and endless papering of neighborhoods.

I was on such a mission on Monday. All I wanted in the world was to get home so we could assemble giant, laminated, BRING HIM HOME yard signs and then plaster the entire neighborhood with them. But I needed to get gas first. And then I needed to go to Target because we were out of tape for more signs. And I left work behind schedule.

Target was PACKED. My frustration rose. I popped into the only feasible line, the 10 Items or Less lane. There was only a mom and her teenage son in front of me and they were being handed their receipt. I WAS IN LUCK.

Except the cashier, a kid in his mid-20s whose lines I have avoided whenever possible because he will talk to each person for six hours and you will literally stand there for 5-10 minutes after someone gets their receipt, waiting for him to shut up long enough so that they can leave and you can buy your tampons and GTFO.

So he’s asking the kid about his big college plans and the kid is answering, and they’re yammering on, and it’s all I can do to not tap my foot and roll my eyes and sigh loudly and BE THAT PERSON that I never am. I am usually an angel. But CAN YOU HURRY THIS UP BECAUSE OMG MY CAT IS OUT IN THE BIG WORLD WITHOUT ME AND I HAVE SIGNS TO MAKE AND NO ONE CARES. When I hear the cashier say he’ll be moving to another city to attend classes at this one college, because they offer the “best classes for my autism.”

PUNCH to the Be-A-Human-Face.

So this kid, in all his awkward social glory and over-chatting weirdness, is autistic. And, likely, these elongated sort of one-sided weird interactions he has with people and all his stuttering stem from that.

And then I felt like an asshole. And my entire mood shifted to grateful, pleasant, understanding. Just this weird physical lightness and a mental reminder that we’re all human, we all talk too much, and that even without the autism, we should all just calm down a bit and let the little stuff slide.

So I put my stuff on the belt and he grins. I grin. And he goes, “How, how, how is your (makes lengthening motions with his hands and I have no idea where he is going with this), your TALL husband?”

Well knock me over.

He REMEMBERS me. AND Sean. Taken aback, I said Sean was good, and he grinned and nodded and followed it with, “I haven’t seen you guys in FOREVER!”

He rang up my tape, and we talked about his anxiety about his upcoming move to the college 4 hours away – it’s his first time away from home and his uncertainty was palatable — and I hoped the lady behind us would let it slide as well.

And then I told him he’d BE FINE, and wished him luck, and headed home feeling just a little bit better about everything.

(And in case you’re wondering, Runaway Cat is now home and grounded for life!)


I was digging through our study this afternoon because I needed to re-purpose a plastic drawer organizer thing into our linen closet because I saw this on Pinterest and have reached a new level with my Type A-ery by doing things like labeling our medicine cabinet and folding Walmart grocery bags, but that is besides the point here. I also came across a stack of old photos – you know, the kind that went onto actual film and you paid like $15.00 to develop in 60 minutes, heyyyyy – and they swooned my heart because they were of beloved pets that have crossed to the Rainbow Bridge. And god forbid I do something that I don’t feel a need to post on the interwebs, I immediately scanned them for sharing!

This is Bo, an amazingly patient, loving, protective, tolerant 100+ lb German Shepherd we rescued from our shelter when he was a few years old. He is one of my “childhood pets”, the ones who make my childhood memories, and one of my first special needs pets. When he turned 9, we thought he was developing hip dysplasia, but several tests later showed he was developing lower body paralysis and wouldn’t be a candidate for hip replacement surgery. He became our first “wheel chair dog” – and is the reason we donate annually to Pets with Disabilities! And I was totally wearing underoos, but I’m like 6 here, so… modesty patch!

This is Hammer, after MC Hammer, and we ended up his family after some neighborhood kids could no longer keep him. Part rottie, part pittie, part lab – all chunk and love. We had more tea parties than I can count, more adventures than I thought possible (including sailing the Pacific on a routine basis wearing a stupid hat?), and ruined more of my dad’s nice shirts playing dress-up than I care to recall. He lived to the ripe ‘ol age of 17 and passed away in his sleep – he deserved nothing less.

This is Michelangelo, our duck. Yes, our duck. He was part of one of those horrible school ideas of having kids raise eggs that hatch (YAY – the miracle of life!) and then the class finds themselves with a bunch of baby ducks no one wants. My mom couldn’t bear the thought of where they might go and thus, we kept ours. He spent his years consistently untying our shoe laces and was quite convinced he was one of the dogs.

This is Ferris and Sean. I say that together because that’s how they worked. Though he had a dog growing up, Sean didn’t really become an “animal person” until he met me and I drilled it into rubbed off on him. 😉 We scoured the shelters of Southern California for his ‘first’ dog. Although I reminded him that many dogs are so excited to be out of their kennels that they take a few minutes to warm up to potential adopters, Sean had decided his first dog would run right to him and want nothing but kisses. On a repeat trip to a shelter in Orange County, we came across Ferris, who we had somehow not seen the day before despite his being there. He was old, he stank, and he had clear tumor growths along his mouth. In fact, he was so ill that the shelter vet had decided he wouldn’t have much longer to live and he wasn’t for adoption. But a volunteer missed that tidbit on his info card and out Ferris came — and like a scene from a cheesy Disney movie, he ran straight into Sean’s arms with sloppy, hideously scented kisses. Sean decided there was no way this little senior citizen would die alone, confused, on a metal table in the back of the shelter and deserved his last days to be spent with a family. After a very long conversation with the staff vet, a lot of begging, a big warning that he was on his way out, and a special waiver – he was Sean’s. He came home that night, hanging his head out of the window, not a care in the world – he was saved and he knew it. And he would have nothing to do with anyone else — Sean was his boy and that’s all he cared. We didn’t have long before his cancer progressed past where it could continue to be treated, and a little over a month after adopting him, Ferris passed in the arms of his final family. He was loved.


Hello world! I’ve been away from the blog and completely absorbed in life lately — with my biggest focus being Emmie’s recovery from her dual surgeries the last few weeks. 🙂

Before we decided to do the surgery, I Google’d like a mad woman to find experiences and footage of other dogs who had also undergone femoral head ostectomy (FHO) surgery, but couldn’t find any of a dog that was undergoing both FHO and patella surgery at the same time (in fact, though many other surgeons had done it, our vet had not and we were both a little unsure at how long the recovery would take). So I decided to document hers and throw it on YouTube for other owners who were doing their own crazy Google searches!

Ignore all of my overly cheesy “GOOD GIRL!” right into the mic — oops, I was a little too enthusiastic for her progress! 😉 Also don’t mind the fact that Gizmo has learned he loves nothing more than to be the focus of every photo and video and sneaks into everything. And ignore my “I’m a nice wife” commentary in the pool video… Sean, ever self-conscious, whispered, “I’m not in this, right?” and I nodded no… then forgot we were trying to not make comments and blurted that out. Sigh. Videographer I am not.

24 Hours Post-Op: Very groggy, a lot of spaced out wobbles, but she was standing!

3 Days Post-Op: She surprised everyone by deciding she could use the leg about 2 weeks early.

And had to be reminded that no, she couldn’t climb stairs or conquer the world. 😉

4 Days Post-Op: More “Ahead of the Game” footage.

To get an idea of how ahead of the curve she was, most dogs don’t even begin to “toe touch” the ground until about Day 14-16. She was so ahead of the game that she actually overdid it and lost all confidence that she could use that leg – and we had about a two week set back that worried everyone to the point we ran some basic physical therapy tests early to ensure there was no nerve damage and was indeed all in her head (it was).

5 Weeks Post-Op: Hydrotherapy Begins!

One of the toughest obstacles, outside of convincing the dog the leg still works (which consisted of doing physical therapy exercises at home 4x a day), is rebuilding the muscle that inevitability gets lost during the few weeks of recovery that the leg is utilized less. Luckily for us, Emmie loves to swim and swimming is the top rebuilding method for these type of surgeries, so once we got the green light? We set up a 36″ deep temporary pool and begin doing swimming exercises several times a week in conjunction with her walks.

So far she is doing well. She’s still on sporadic pain medication as one of the toughest parts of this surgery was the fact that the lone leg she was left to rely on was just as bad as the one we were fixing, so she gets a little sore. We’ve got a few more months of therapy and focusing on getting as much from that leg as we can for optimum success, but I already feel it was worth all the money and stress — and stress it has been. It’s definitely a commitment to do the physical therapy at home, to carry a dog up and down stairs four bajillion times a day, to watch her struggle or hurt or be unsure of herself. How do I know it was so worth it, though? She wags her tail far more than she has in the past year or so – a clear sign that her constant pain has at least reduced by half! 🙂


Here’s a little infographic goodness for your Thursday! 🙂