“I love to be me! At the dog park, I run around just as easily as the other doggies. Unlike them though, I have some awesome wheels attached. That’s what makes me so special. Nothing is going to slow me down. Vroooom! I’m so happy that my human decided to care for me and see beyond my missing legs.” — super dog
Hip hop hooray to our pets with special needs because May 3rd is National Specially-abled Pets Day! Today is a day to, not only celebrate our unique pets with disabilities, but also to raise awareness that pets of special needs can lead good quality lives. Pets are resilient and easily get past their shortcomings. Ahem, or dare I say, our shortcomings…it’s all part of responsible pet ownership.
A specially-abled pet is any pet that faces a challenge due to perhaps a birth flaw, disease, injury, or age. Animal disabilities vary including blindness, missing limbs, diabetes, or even suffering from emotional problems. Nevertheless, our special friends are still capable of providing us with love and usually require only a bit more extra care and attention. This can include medications or a special diet, which may mean a greater financial commitment.
Don’t be fooled though! These pets are usually very able. They tend to develop greater senses than your average pet and are frequently very open to adapting to their environment. We just need to be able to keep up with them as they readjust to life. It’s important to keep in mind that it’s their differences that makes them one of a kind.
If you’re considering adopting a pet, see if a specially-abled pet would be right for you. Specially-abled pets are overlooked at shelters because people assume that they will require too much care. An astounding quarter of the nearly four million animals that are put down in shelters each year are specially-abled. However, with little adjustments, a pet with special needs can provide the same amount of affection to a family as any other pet.
There are a few things to consider before potentially adopting a specially-abled pet:
- Ask the shelter if the pet may require medications, surgeries, or ongoing medical procedures. You’ll want to be financially prepared for that.
- Do some research to see how to “pet proof” your home. We’ve listed some helpful hints below for you to check out.
Here are some tips in adjusting your home for your special friend:
- Your house needs to be easily accessible for your pet. If your pet has trouble walking, maybe a bed on the second floor isn’t a good idea.
- If your home is fair game for your furry friends, set up ramps on your furniture so your pet can get on and off with ease. They want to share those comfy couches with you too.
- Choose doggy or kitty doors that are open to the floor so your pet doesn’t need to step over any barriers. We don’t want them missing their yard time.
- If your pet has impaired vision, a childproof gate at the front of the stairs is appropriate. We wouldn’t want our friends tumbling down.
Beyond “pet proofing” your home, there are other things to consider that are of value. If your pet is deaf, you’ll need to learn commands in sign language. If your pet is vision-impaired, you’ll want to avoid moving around the furniture in your house too much.
A personal experience:
Skippy was my first dog when I was about 4 years old. He was a beautiful, brindle colored mutt. Loyal, he was always by my side. When I started pre-K he’d escape our yard waiting outside the school. He was very smart. I loved him so much.
Our home got broken into one day. He attacked and ran the thieves out but in the process he was stabbed and run over. His back legs were broken beyond repair; they were amputated but he survived the ordeal. I remember helping my grandmother care for him day and night until he was strong enough to get back up.
As he gained his strength back he’d pick up his rear, balance on his front legs and would go wherever he pleased. He kept up with the best of them without a problem. Nothing stopped him. Not having his rear legs didn’t face him one bit. We lived in a multi-level home. We arranged for everything to be at the lower level. He wouldn’t have it. He easily and quickly adapted to the environment. Sometimes he’d raise me to the top of the stairs. I’m not telling who won. Skippy lived to the age of 16.
The only challenge with caring for a specially-abled pet is a personal challenge. The pet is just fine.“
So today, in celebration of our pets with special needs, let us take a moment to appreciate our friends we may not usually think about. Here, at KirinGie.me, we love all animals and have a special place in our hearts for specially-abled pets.
Do you have a fun or touching story to share about a special needs pet? We’d love to hear from you.