The Love of Specially-abled Pets
We celebrate National Specially-abled Pets Day annually on May 3. It honors those furry friends who take on life’s challenges with a wagging tail and boundless energy! Some of these beloved pets live with paralysis, missing limbs, blindness, deafness and other disabilities. Whether due to disease, birth defects or injuries, these pet’s disabilities do not make them any less capable of showing love and living a fulfilling life. Pet parents of special needs animals will tell you that their disabled pets are very “abled!” Run Those Dogs provides support to parents of specially-abled pets.
Unfortunately, specially-abled pets are often overlooked and the last to be adopted from shelters. There is a misconception that it will be too much work or too costly to care for them. But many of these animals are simply different but equally ready to love their forever homes with all their might just like any other furry friend.
Millions of animals every year are put down in shelters across the country simply because they have special needs. Usually because they are perceived to be cost prohibitive to a new pet parent, or they’re simply deemed “unadoptable.” But with a little research and perhaps some help from local shelters, charities, and friends, you can find out if a specially-abled furry friend is right for you.
What Makes a Pet Specially-abled?
A specially-abled or handicapped has a physical or mental condition of varying degrees. They can be overlooked because people aren’t clued in to their superpowers just yet:
- Vision–impaired pets have extremely developed senses of smell, hearing, and touch that help guide them around their environment.
- Dogs that are hearing-impaired can still respond to sign language commands and vibration.
- Animals missing legs are just as playful and energetic as those with all four paws, if not more so.
Be Brave and Adopt!
The most amazing thing about these animals is that they are up for anything. It is no secret that blind dogs love going on walks or that dogs in wheel-carts are ready to play. Animals adapt so cleverly to their surroundings and circumstances that their conditions are just a small part of living. Today, specialists are able to 3D print prosthetic limbs, customize wheel chairs and other supports. Blind and deaf dogs can be trained to understand voice and hand signals to communicate. Your local humane society or veterinarian should be able to connect you with these specialized services as needed.
As true with any other adoption process, the key is to make sure the dog’s temperament and lifestyle needs match yours. Of course the humans of the house will have to adopt some consistent practices such as keeping hearing-impaired pups leashed when in public. Or avoiding a seasonal rearranging of your home’s furniture if you adopt a blind pet. But at the end of the day, the good parts far outweigh any small sacrifices. If you have children, adopting a specially-abled animal can also be a great lesson in developing empathy, patience and compassion.
When you adopt a specially-abled pet, you’re giving love to a pet who needs it even more than the typical rescue. But most importantly, you’ll be gaining a new wonderful friend.
The next time you consider pet adoption, be sure to consider whether your home and family are right for a specially-abled pet. If you’re looking to adopt in the Pacific Northwest, we recommend Stanwood’s NOAH Center where Run Those Dogs owner Jen Sewell volunteers. Or check with your local human society and alternative humane society. Then know that Run Those Dogs has your back. Part of our customized pet sitting and exercise services include administration of medications and shots at no extra charge. We are here when you need us.