Stephanie and Red Fred

Written by Stephanie Ruggerone

In the movie œSeabiscuit , trainer Tom Smith states, œYou don ™t throw a whole life away just because it ™s banged up a little .  Oh how I wish more people would view the world this way!  While I have loved many animals in my life, it is the ones who had œspecial needs  that have taught me the most valuable lessons.

Our animal companions do not feel sorry for themselves nor do they expect special treatment.  Regardless of the origin of their œdefects , by birth, illness or injury; they forge ahead with life and find ways to overcome disability.  They possess the same devotion and love as normal animals but we often discard them because they don ™t look right or require a little extra care on our part.  While some of these wonderful creatures may require additional financial means, most simply need someone to accept them as they are and allow them to burrow into a human heart.

Blind animals can quickly learn to navigate a home and yard and enjoy leashed excursions once they know you will be their œguide human .  They compensate for their lack of sight tactility and with sound.  Keeping a radio playing in a specific part of the home or hearing a water fountain gives them points of reference.

Deaf pets can learn hand signals and feel vibrations.  Oh, but how do you get their attention to teach the signals?  Use the nose!  Food will keep their attention for quite some time.  They often learn to œcheck in  with their human friends by frequently turning to look for signals.  Yes, it takes some additional time to ensure these animals are safe in their environment but well worth the effort!

Missing body parts often seem to be a big factor for us but rarely a problem for the animal.  We often fail to look beyond the appearance and can ™t imagine these animals being happy.   With proper exercise they can frequently run like the wind, keeping up with their full-bodied friends.  Some even excel in agility!

Napoleon is one of my current special needs œkids .  He was born with a syndrome called œswimmer puppy  and his future was questionable.  He learned to walk (and run) through he isn ™t exactly graceful and he is absolutely wonderful with my two year old grand daughter.  He has given my family seven years of snuggles, smiles and lots of laughs.  He may not be œnormal  but has endless value to me via unconditional love.

Never thought of adopting a special needs pet?  Try it! I think you may find you not only like it but it may become habit forming.