Special needs is a term which covers a range of conditions in pets. It can include animals who are physically disabled, born with a birth defect, a chronic medical condition, behavioral issues, a breed that is in disfavor, an older animal, a too large animal, one with the wrong color, blind or deaf – this list goes on..
Of course we would all like our pets to be perfect, it depends on how you see them. These animals arrive in shelters and are usually rejected by potential adopters. There fate is sealed when entering a shelter and only on rare occasions do they find a loving home. With a little love and care I believe these animals should have a good home. And so begins the story of my adopted mixed breed, Cookie.
Wanting to adopt a needy dog, my daughter & I went to the local shelter. There we found a year old, large, tan dog who had been badly abused at 6 months old. While walking her in the street, her owner kicked her so hard, he broke her hip. A shelter administrator witnessed the abuse and with the help of police, Cookie was turned over to her. Two surgeries later left Cookie with a slight limp, the leg slightly shorter and not as developed as her other 3 legs and a urine leaking problem due to nerve damage. In spite of her abusive beginnings, Cookie appeared to be a happy dog looking for someone to love. Fortunately, my other dogs accepted her with no show of aggression on either side. Once home, Cookie learned after a short while that I could be trusted not to hurt her. We dealt with the leaking problem (medication) and she receives supplements for her joints. After 2 years of living together, we are both so happy that she has a second chance at the life she deserves.
Whatever issues special needs animals have, within a short time and some little effort, they adjust well knowing they are treasured. They are as loving and loyal as any pet. And I have a sneaking suspicion that they understand that even though they have special needs, they feel safe and secure in a loving home.
If you can physically and financially care for a special needs pet, the next time you visit a shelter, please consider adopting one. You’ll be saving a life and the experience will be its own reward.