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Living with a Special Needs Dog

By underbiteunite on Sep. 11, 2017

September 13 is Pet Birth Defect Awareness Day, a day dedicated to the issue of pet birth defects—including information on identification, prevention and treatment—so in honor of Pet Birth Defect Awareness Day, I’d like to share the story of my dog, Daisy:

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Each dog is unique in her own way and having special needs adds to what makes my dog, Daisy different. Daisy's elbows, right shoulder and back hips are dislocated, which resulted in her congenital deformity. She hops around like a bunny and uses a wheelchair (and is currently mastering the use of prosthetic legs) to aid her walk.

I was initially drawn into adopting a dog with special needs because I knew they had a challenging time finding a forever home. In my eyes, disabled dogs are strong, healthy, brave, wise and grateful beings. As I was browsing through dogs on a pet adoption site, I came across Daisy. As soon as I read about her background and watched a 3-minute video of her walking in the wheelchair and wagging her tail, I knew she had to be mine. 

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Although Daisy is unable to walk like other dogs, she adapted so well that it is quite easy to forget that she is disabled. We have gone through a few challenging moments to figure out how to make Daisy's life easier and more comfortable. For example, because walking both with and without her wheelchair quickly drains Daisy's energy, I decided to purchase a wagon to put her in during our walks. Her natural posture makes eating difficult, so I place a cushion under Daisy's body to keep her leveled. Through our trial and error, we find the best solutions together and words cannot describe the joy I feel when I see Daisy looking happy. Daily observations and figuring out what her needs are really allowed us to form a strong bond. 

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As I mentioned earlier, Daisy is currently practicing the use of prosthetic legs. I decided to make the transition from the wheelchair to prosthetic legs after learning that the wheelchair is putting a great amount of pressure on her spine and can jeopardize her ability to walk in the long run. Although she would stumble and fall during practice, she still wags her tail and has been such a trooper throughout the entire journey. The small steps turn into big accomplishments and this is an experience that I can only share with a special needs dog.

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One of the most common comments we receive through our social media platforms is, "how sad" and "poor dog." I share Daisy's story and her joy for life in hopes of spreading positive awareness for special needs dogs, and show how they can live their lives to the fullest. I have been seeing positive changes already being made for them, and feel excited and inspired each time. More special needs dogs are finding forever homes, have online communities specifically for them and are being featured in the media. We aspire to continue to spread awareness and hope to see more dogs like Daisy find the love that they deserve.

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To learn more about Daisy's story visit underbiteunite.com

Do you have a pet with special needs? Share a photo of your forever friend using #petco for a chance to be featured! 

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15 Comments
Comments
by
‎09-11-2015 11:09 AM
I would not say "poor dog" or "sad dog." When I see Daisy, I see a "happy and healthy dog!" I too have a special needs dog. Baby Coby was born with Ataxia on July 28, 2004. (The way I understand it: Ataxia is a disorder that attacks the part of the brain that controls the nervous system. This means that your dog can not control their movements.) He may only want to move an inch but end up moving a foot or vice a versa. We had three dogs with three different stages of the disease. With Baby Coby being the runt, we named him perfectly! The whole litter was affected. Out of a litter of four, the oldest was the only one who showed no signs. As pups Tilk the oldest was the only one who could walk, the others seem to just roll around on their backs. Tilk ran back and forth to each of his brother's playing with them, it was so cute to see. Honestly I didn't know what was going on, I thought it was my job to help them and teach them how to walk. So I sat on the brink flower bed and one at a time show the puppy's what they were suppose to be doing. I would pick a pup and with both hands, one on either side in the middle of the puppy's body, I would let their paws barely touch the concrete. Starting off with them closest to my body and then extend my arms outward as far as I could reach, it hopes they would learn what they were suppose to do. I would do this over and over. What I had in mind, picturing my hands as the guard rails. Just like the ones they use for humans after a traumatic accident and they have to regain the strength in their legs. I did this every day, two or three times a day if I could. But as they develop we noticed that something was wrong. The oldest Tilk had no trouble at all, so he was not need therapy like his brother's. The second and third born, seemed like the therapy was working. Although they were a little wobbly with each step, one more than the other, they could walk! I don't remember how long I keep it up but even though they were walking I wanted to help steady their walk. Maybe I helped maybe i didn't, I don't know. But I do know that if I could go back in time I would do it all again, but maybe start early. Jonas and Toby could walk, and that made me happy! Jonas was steady ish with his walk. Some people couldn't even notice anything was wrong with him, as his mom I could see his slight shakiness. Toby White-Eye you could see he seemed to struggle with each step. And standing still he wobbled back and forth, but he could walk. The youngest Baby Coby could not stand much less walk. I worked with him the most, but my efforts seemed like they were not working on him. As he got a little older I got a wheel chair for him. But it was really made for a dog with hind leg problems, and all of Coby's legs were week. In the wheelchair he still needed a lot of help. You could not leave him alone, at all! Because if he feel over he could not pick himself up. Even though the wheelchair was not exactly what he needed, I strongly believe that it did help him. We stopped using the wheelchair. I learned very early on that a traditional leash around the neck would not work! We bought new harnesses for all five of our babies. With the way Coby couldn't control his movements at all, you have to help him all the time even when he potties! My neighbors would stare at us at first, but then they understand. You can't just open the back door and say go potty. We use a very short two to three foot leash and over the years you learn to anticipate his movements. If he falls backward you pull him forward. If he falls forward you pull him backward. We try as much as we can to give him his dignity and help him to pee like a boy. If he sees a bush he will get a running start and stop abruptly at the bush and throw his body on the bush while lifting his hind leg. And with his body fully leaning on the bush, mark that bush, just like a normal boy dog. Now you think Coby doesn't know how much we do for him, believe me he knows! And he thinks us everyday. He will lick your arm until it seems like your skin will start falling off. It is a privilege to raise Coby from birth! But it is also a challenge! We have learned how to best take care of him. But the challenge is he is still a Jack Russell Terrier in every way. If he wants to jump off the couch he will, which makes us agree. He has learned on his own, to just lean his body so he falls off slowly. (One time I actually got video of this) Maybe he hurts him self less this way, I don't know. But either way we don't like it! I wish he would learn to fall butt first instead of head first. That's what is so scary! What I do know is that he hurts himself everytime, sometimes he crys a little and other times he yelps really loud when he hurts himself really bad. Believe me this boy is soiled rotten. He has all his needs meet and more. Jonas was adopted out to a loving family. In 2005? I think. Toby White-Eye passed away August 2005. Due to complications of his illness. We still morn his loss. Their mother, my little girl, passed away this past March 2015. She was 15. She was attacked by a Pit Bull that was not on a leash in October 2014. Although her body heeled from the wounds I believe that she just could not handly the stess. Because she quickly declined after the dog attack. She was my everything and I miss her terribly! So we are down to only two babies now. We take Tilk for a walk, just as anyone would. But with Baby Coby, I recently ordered him a new stroller. The old one is falling apart. I find this is the best way to take him for a walk. As with out it he can only walk about two to maybe, a big maybe three houses and then collapses and I have to carry him the rest of the way. At our last house, the house across the street was on a slight hill. But this made it a lot easier to walk coby there. He could walk farther due to gravity helping him. And he had the biggest smile on his face! It really was the cutest thing! But sometimes I would take him around the block in his stroller. He loves his stroller he will try to run and jump into it. And with us helping him, he can do it. Now with our new house everytime he hears the garage door open he thinks he's going for a walk. For us the stroller gives him a chance to feel like a normal dog going for a walk in the neighborhood with his owners. In that moment, he is truly the happiest little boy on the planet! At eleven years old Tilk and Baby Coby are very happy! In the beginning we had planned on keeping only one of Audree's offspring and adopting the rest. But that came to a screeching halt! It was recommended to us that we either put them to sleep and or send the youngest, because he was the most afflicted by the disease, to a facility to study him and help the breed. Now we LOVE are Jack Russell Terrier's but we had already fell in LOVE with our babies and could not send him to live a life in a cage or bear to put them asleep. Now we know we had challenges ahead of us, but we had no clue that we had to rearrange our whole lifestyle but we were happy to and we would do it all over again! All of our babies were very happy and each of their needs meet! We have the best vet in the world! Every year we go in for vaccinations, she comends us for taking such good care of them! She said that Coby is a happy little boy! And you can tell he is well loved!
I would not say "poor dog" or "sad dog." When I see Daisy, I see a "happy and healthy dog!" I too have a special needs dog. Baby Coby was born with Ataxia on July 28, 2004. (The way I understand it: Ataxia is a disorder that attacks the part of the brain that controls the nervous system. This means that your dog can not control their movements.) He may only want to move an inch but end up moving a foot or vice a versa. We had three dogs with three different stages of the disease. With Baby Coby being the runt, we named him perfectly! The whole litter was affected. Out of a litter of four, the oldest was the only one who showed no signs. As pups Tilk the oldest was the only one who could walk, the others seem to just roll around on their backs. Tilk ran back and forth to each of his brother's playing with them, it was so cute to see. Honestly I didn't know what was going on, I thought it was my job to help them and teach them how to walk. So I sat on the brink flower bed and one at a time show the puppy's what they were suppose to be doing. I would pick a pup and with both hands, one on either side in the middle of the puppy's body, I would let their paws barely touch the concrete. Starting off with them closest to my body and then extend my arms outward as far as I could reach, it hopes they would learn what they were suppose to do. I would do this over and over. What I had in mind, picturing my hands as the guard rails. Just like the ones they use for humans after a traumatic accident and they have to regain the strength in their legs. I did this every day, two or three times a day if I could. But as they develop we noticed that something was wrong. The oldest Tilk had no trouble at all, so he was not need therapy like his brother's. The second and third born, seemed like the therapy was working. Although they were a little wobbly with each step, one more than the other, they could walk! I don't remember how long I keep it up but even though they were walking I wanted to help steady their walk. Maybe I helped maybe i didn't, I don't know. But I do know that if I could go back in time I would do it all again, but maybe start early. Jonas and Toby could walk, and that made me happy! Jonas was steady ish with his walk. Some people couldn't even notice anything was wrong with him, as his mom I could see his slight shakiness. Toby White-Eye you could see he seemed to struggle with each step. And standing still he wobbled back and forth, but he could walk. The youngest Baby Coby could not stand much less walk. I worked with him the most, but my efforts seemed like they were not working on him. As he got a little older I got a wheel chair for him. But it was really made for a dog with hind leg problems, and all of Coby's legs were week. In the wheelchair he still needed a lot of help. You could not leave him alone, at all! Because if he feel over he could not pick himself up. Even though the wheelchair was not exactly what he needed, I strongly believe that it did help him. We stopped using the wheelchair. I learned very early on that a traditional leash around the neck would not work! We bought new harnesses for all five of our babies. With the way Coby couldn't control his movements at all, you have to help him all the time even when he potties! My neighbors would stare at us at first, but then they understand. You can't just open the back door and say go potty. We use a very short two to three foot leash and over the years you learn to anticipate his movements. If he falls backward you pull him forward. If he falls forward you pull him backward. We try as much as we can to give him his dignity and help him to pee like a boy. If he sees a bush he will get a running start and stop abruptly at the bush and throw his body on the bush while lifting his hind leg. And with his body fully leaning on the bush, mark that bush, just like a normal boy dog. Now you think Coby doesn't know how much we do for him, believe me he knows! And he thinks us everyday. He will lick your arm until it seems like your skin will start falling off. It is a privilege to raise Coby from birth! But it is also a challenge! We have learned how to best take care of him. But the challenge is he is still a Jack Russell Terrier in every way. If he wants to jump off the couch he will, which makes us agree. He has learned on his own, to just lean his body so he falls off slowly. (One time I actually got video of this) Maybe he hurts him self less this way, I don't know. But either way we don't like it! I wish he would learn to fall butt first instead of head first. That's what is so scary! What I do know is that he hurts himself everytime, sometimes he crys a little and other times he yelps really loud when he hurts himself really bad. Believe me this boy is soiled rotten. He has all his needs meet and more. Jonas was adopted out to a loving family. In 2005? I think. Toby White-Eye passed away August 2005. Due to complications of his illness. We still morn his loss. Their mother, my little girl, passed away this past March 2015. She was 15. She was attacked by a Pit Bull that was not on a leash in October 2014. Although her body heeled from the wounds I believe that she just could not handly the stess. Because she quickly declined after the dog attack. She was my everything and I miss her terribly! So we are down to only two babies now. We take Tilk for a walk, just as anyone would. But with Baby Coby, I recently ordered him a new stroller. The old one is falling apart. I find this is the best way to take him for a walk. As with out it he can only walk about two to maybe, a big maybe three houses and then collapses and I have to carry him the rest of the way. At our last house, the house across the street was on a slight hill. But this made it a lot easier to walk coby there. He could walk farther due to gravity helping him. And he had the biggest smile on his face! It really was the cutest thing! But sometimes I would take him around the block in his stroller. He loves his stroller he will try to run and jump into it. And with us helping him, he can do it. Now with our new house everytime he hears the garage door open he thinks he's going for a walk. For us the stroller gives him a chance to feel like a normal dog going for a walk in the neighborhood with his owners. In that moment, he is truly the happiest little boy on the planet! At eleven years old Tilk and Baby Coby are very happy! In the beginning we had planned on keeping only one of Audree's offspring and adopting the rest. But that came to a screeching halt! It was recommended to us that we either put them to sleep and or send the youngest, because he was the most afflicted by the disease, to a facility to study him and help the breed. Now we LOVE are Jack Russell Terrier's but we had already fell in LOVE with our babies and could not send him to live a life in a cage or bear to put them asleep. Now we know we had challenges ahead of us, but we had no clue that we had to rearrange our whole lifestyle but we were happy to and we would do it all over again! All of our babies were very happy and each of their needs meet! We have the best vet in the world! Every year we go in for vaccinations, she comends us for taking such good care of them! She said that Coby is a happy little boy! And you can tell he is well loved!
Posted on Sep. 11, 2015
by
‎09-17-2015 07:10 AM
That is so awesome. Dogs need to be loved. Mine is a shelter dog and the best I have ever had.
That is so awesome. Dogs need to be loved. Mine is a shelter dog and the best I have ever had.
Posted on Sep. 17, 2015
by CelticQ
‎09-20-2015 06:15 AM

 Daisy is so cute! I have a dog who is mostly blind and deaf. Believe me, she can find her way around just fine. She is also incredibly spoiled--but also an incredible gift. Special needs pets can be great companions!

 Daisy is so cute! I have a dog who is mostly blind and deaf. Believe me, she can find her way around just fine. She is also incredibly spoiled--but also an incredible gift. Special needs pets can be great companions!

Posted on Sep. 20, 2015
by tulip
‎09-20-2015 09:45 AM

thank you for being such a wonderful Mum to Daisy she looks so very happy as she is beautiful, rescue dogs are such a blessing I have a little toy Chihuahua who was abused and he is now spoiled rotten, when my cat Max went blind he soon figured out where everything was, then he had a stroke I slept on the floor with him for 2 weeks he even tried to get to his box to pee etc. I had to help him learn to walk again didn't take too long he was able to get around just fine, it left him with a permanent head tilt

thank you for being such a wonderful Mum to Daisy she looks so very happy as she is beautiful, rescue dogs are such a blessing I have a little toy Chihuahua who was abused and he is now spoiled rotten, when my cat Max went blind he soon figured out where everything was, then he had a stroke I slept on the floor with him for 2 weeks he even tried to get to his box to pee etc. I had to help him learn to walk again didn't take too long he was able to get around just fine, it left him with a permanent head tilt

Posted on Sep. 20, 2015
by JCole
‎09-24-2015 07:19 AM

Yes special needs dogs are very loveing as I believe they know how fortunate they are to have a family.  I had a black lab who contracted bone cancer, I bought a 2 wheel cart so she could enjoy the outdoors without pain.  She was only given 6 weeks when she was diagnosed but she had the will to live and we loved her for 11 more months!  I not have my 13 1/2 old cocker spaniel who has cushings disease but before that, went blind from glaucoma.  She continues to enjoy her life as she know her domain and loves her play time out in the park.  When she hears my voice and I see that little tail wag, it makes everything so worth while for her.

Yes special needs dogs are very loveing as I believe they know how fortunate they are to have a family.  I had a black lab who contracted bone cancer, I bought a 2 wheel cart so she could enjoy the outdoors without pain.  She was only given 6 weeks when she was diagnosed but she had the will to live and we loved her for 11 more months!  I not have my 13 1/2 old cocker spaniel who has cushings disease but before that, went blind from glaucoma.  She continues to enjoy her life as she know her domain and loves her play time out in the park.  When she hears my voice and I see that little tail wag, it makes everything so worth while for her.

Posted on Sep. 24, 2015
by DSinger
‎09-25-2015 06:57 AM

Your story really touched me.  Bless you for adopting Daisy and working with her to make her life enjoyable. 

Your story really touched me.  Bless you for adopting Daisy and working with her to make her life enjoyable. 

Posted on Sep. 25, 2015
by Kassygirl
‎09-26-2015 08:06 AM

I have been following Daisy's story.  She is an inspiration.  Though she has issues, you can see how much she enjoys life.  She was our inspiration to adopt a kitten missing the lower part of her leg.  She is the sweetest thing in the world.  Daisy is so adorable.  I love her crooked smile.  She is just a happy puppy and lucky to have a wonderful mom to take care of her and love her.

I have been following Daisy's story.  She is an inspiration.  Though she has issues, you can see how much she enjoys life.  She was our inspiration to adopt a kitten missing the lower part of her leg.  She is the sweetest thing in the world.  Daisy is so adorable.  I love her crooked smile.  She is just a happy puppy and lucky to have a wonderful mom to take care of her and love her.

Posted on Sep. 26, 2015
by Kristopher
‎09-26-2015 11:55 AM

As a woman retired on tight budget but with a lot of love and time to give should I even consider sharing my home with a disabled dog not having the resources regarding medical needs? I've been considering to rescue a dog, looking for an older dog that needs someone to share the last year's in quiet and love but limited funds.                            Thank you

As a woman retired on tight budget but with a lot of love and time to give should I even consider sharing my home with a disabled dog not having the resources regarding medical needs? I've been considering to rescue a dog, looking for an older dog that needs someone to share the last year's in quiet and love but limited funds.                            Thank you

Posted on Sep. 26, 2015
by Charlie Petrizzo
‎09-28-2015 06:33 AM

The award winning children's book "Bean is Born" is about a puppy born with special needs. The story tries to relatate how even though Bean is differnt he should be loved and accepted just the same. Bean has more than 500 facebook friends. The illustrations are fantastic and all proceeds help fund project2heal's mission  to provide service dogs to people with special needs through their partner organizations. If interested book can be ordered at www.project2heal.org

The award winning children's book "Bean is Born" is about a puppy born with special needs. The story tries to relatate how even though Bean is differnt he should be loved and accepted just the same. Bean has more than 500 facebook friends. The illustrations are fantastic and all proceeds help fund project2heal's mission  to provide service dogs to people with special needs through their partner organizations. If interested book can be ordered at www.project2heal.org

Posted on Sep. 28, 2015
by Dreamwolf
‎09-28-2015 07:08 AM

I know this article is supposed to be about dogs with Birth Defects but I work in Rescue and one of the most common things we see is elderly dogs who are given up by their owners simply because they are old. I see it and hear baout all the time, someone gets a new puppy, the old dog doesnt get along with the puppy, so they drop the old dog at the shelter or take it to the vet to be put to sleep.

 

Case in point, Grandma, a purebred beagle from a puppy mill. She and her daughter, aged 13 and 11 respectively, were surrendered to a shelter because they could no longer have puppies. Our rescue took Grandma and her daughter in. Grandma was with us for two years before she found a new home with a family that was looking a good dog to rescue. Bunny, her daughter, bonded with my special needs brother, and now he goes out and baout walking her and meeting people instead of spending all his time indoors because interaction with other people makes him nervous.

 

So its not just dogs born with disabilities, its dogs with special needs in general that need our help.

I know this article is supposed to be about dogs with Birth Defects but I work in Rescue and one of the most common things we see is elderly dogs who are given up by their owners simply because they are old. I see it and hear baout all the time, someone gets a new puppy, the old dog doesnt get along with the puppy, so they drop the old dog at the shelter or take it to the vet to be put to sleep.

 

Case in point, Grandma, a purebred beagle from a puppy mill. She and her daughter, aged 13 and 11 respectively, were surrendered to a shelter because they could no longer have puppies. Our rescue took Grandma and her daughter in. Grandma was with us for two years before she found a new home with a family that was looking a good dog to rescue. Bunny, her daughter, bonded with my special needs brother, and now he goes out and baout walking her and meeting people instead of spending all his time indoors because interaction with other people makes him nervous.

 

So its not just dogs born with disabilities, its dogs with special needs in general that need our help.

Posted on Sep. 28, 2015
by Hmmmm
‎09-29-2015 01:46 PM

I checked out your website and I cant help but feel that you have used this dogs disability for your own financial gain, hawking tshirts with a disabled dog for more money than they are worth. It just doesnt seem right...

I checked out your website and I cant help but feel that you have used this dogs disability for your own financial gain, hawking tshirts with a disabled dog for more money than they are worth. It just doesnt seem right...

Posted on Sep. 29, 2015
by thisisjust stupid
‎10-25-2015 09:04 AM

Adopting a dog that will have little quality of life while thousands of healthy dogs die daily at shelters says alot about the resuce angel who needs to feel extra special about themselves.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U68G8up1-qo

Adopting a dog that will have little quality of life while thousands of healthy dogs die daily at shelters says alot about the resuce angel who needs to feel extra special about themselves.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U68G8up1-qo

Posted on Oct. 25, 2015
by Sanibelle
‎10-29-2015 08:48 AM

God bless you for giving Daisy such a loving home. You are a truly amazing person. I have one rescue and wanted to adopt a blind puppy but my husband nixed my idea. I only hope this adorable puppy found a home with someone as wonderful as you.

God bless you for giving Daisy such a loving home. You are a truly amazing person. I have one rescue and wanted to adopt a blind puppy but my husband nixed my idea. I only hope this adorable puppy found a home with someone as wonderful as you.

Posted on Oct. 29, 2015
by Bil
‎10-29-2015 10:32 AM

I'm inclined to say "Lucky Dog" to find such a loving home. Thank you.

I'm inclined to say "Lucky Dog" to find such a loving home. Thank you.

Posted on Oct. 29, 2015
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