By Roslyn Ayers, PetSafe Web Content Specialist
As a pet parent, you’ve taken on the wonderful responsibility of caring for your pet for all of their days. Even when they have an accident in the house or cough up a hairball on your new shoes, you still love them. You would still love your dog if she lost a leg, or if your cat lost his sight, right? ‘Of course,’ most of us would say. But would you have the courage to open your home to a disabled or “differently abled” pet?
That’s just what my mother chose to do. Meet Winston. Winston is a 10 year old Chihuahua mix with three legs. He was taken to Brooke’s Haven Animal Rescue in Bluffton, S.C. When cancerous lumps developed in his leg and eyelid, the vet made the decision to remove his leg and eyelid along with the tumors. One week later, he was up and moving, getting around as if nothing had changed. Soon after his recovery, my mom decided to adopt him.
Now cancer-free, Winston lives a normal, active life despite his handicap. His balance isn’t perfect (his nickname is “Tripod”), and sometimes his joints are a bit stiff when he first gets up, but soon he’s up and running like any other dog, even faster than some. When Winston and Eugene, my mom’s other dog, go for walks, Winston blows past Eugene. He’s a peg-legged powerhouse, especially when food is involved! Winston is a perfectly happy, normal dog who doesn’t let his disability get him down, proving that you don’t need four legs to be a great pet.
Animals with disabilities cope much better than people do, but sometimes we don’t give our pets enough credit. For example, many blind cats and dogs are euthanized because it’s felt to be more humane, or because people are scared to adopt them. Yet pets can get along just fine without 20/20 vision. The Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary puts it well: “Blind cats are cats that just happen to not be able to see. They have no idea they are blind; they know they are cats, they act like cats.”
After watching videos like Fiona the blind dog and reading books like Homer’s Odyssey, it becomes clear that blind pets can enjoy lives that are just as full, just as happy, and just as full of love as their full-sighted housemates.
How you can help
Leave your prejudices at the pound door. If you have the room, consider adopting or fostering a pet with special needs. You’ll save a life, and the gratitude you can feel in those furry hugs and wet kisses is more than worth it. Pets don’t need four legs to play and give hugs, and they don’t need perfect vision to smile at you or purr. They can love you just fine just the way they are.
Do you have a special needs pet? Would you consider bringing one into your home?
At PetSafe’s Knoxville headquarters, Roslyn Ayers is the Web Content Specialist. Roslyn comes from a family of animal lovers and has a B.A. in Writing/Communications from Maryville College. She has volunteered with various animal rescues in Tennessee and South Carolina. Roslyn currently shares her home with four cats.