Dogs represent our best selves; they are always grateful, loyal, brave, and genuinely want to make things better. Dogs are natural optimists; they believe in happy endings and always root for the underdog – even when they are the underdog.
LaCroix is a 3-month-old Cattle Dog with a boatload of energy, zest for life, and lots of puppy sparkle in his blue eyes. He is a little guy (for now) with ears as big as his heart. Like most puppies, he doesn’t stand still for long. He loves to play, learn new things, and make people smile – and he does it all on wheels!
LaCroix was born with spina bifida and his back legs are paralyzed. Sometimes being a little different makes you extra special and a whole lot more adorable!
Rescuing A Paralyzed Dog With Spina Bifida
LaCroix was rescued along with several other dogs from a hoarding situation in January. His former owners initially surrendered eight dogs last summer. Kristen Gerali of ALIVE Rescue kept in touch with them in hopes of saving more dogs – removing the puppies and getting the adult dogs, many of which are feral, spayed and neutered.
After earning their trust, ALIVE and two other Chicago rescues removed twelve dogs and puppies, including LaCroix and plan to go back for more. They are also sponsoring and coordinating spays and neuters for all remaining dogs.
LaCroix’s former owner assumed he was injured because he couldn’t use his back legs and scooted around on his butt. But an MRI and other tests revealed that LaCroix’s paralysis is the result of spina bifida, a genetic condition in which the spinal cord doesn’t develop correctly. He will be paralyzed for life and will need continuous therapy, massage, and supportive care. Because his paralysis includes his bowels, he will also be at greater risk for constipation and urinary tract infections.
LaCroix is currently living in an experienced foster home with another partially paralyzed dog. He has adjusted well to his cart and will soon need a larger one (because puppies grow). His back legs are wrapped to keep him from chewing on his toes, a common issue with paralyzed dogs. He also wears a scoot suit (kind of like a baby sleep sack for dogs) for his own protection. His foster mom is hopeful that new meds will help him leave his toes alone. If not, he may eventually need to have one or more amputated.
As you can see in the video, LaCroix is a smart, friendly, happy-go-lucky, fun-loving puppy. He loves exploring, cuddling with his foster brother, and hanging out with his foster mom at work. LaCroix is hoping to find a family who is as special as he is. In the meantime, you can follow his adventures and cuteness on Instagram.
What I find most inspiring about special needs dogs like LaCroix is that they have no idea (nor do they care) that they are different or beautifully imperfect. They just want to be dogs and enjoy normal dog things – adventure, playtime, good food, and comfy beds in a safe home with a family who loves them. Although LaCroix will certainly face some challenges, he deserves his happily-ever-after, fairytale ending like any other dog.
Spina Bifida in Dogs
Spina bifida is a condition that occurs when one or more of a dog’s vertebrae do not properly fuse together in the womb. While the cause is unknown, there is evidence of a genetic component linked to maternal stress, malnutrition or ingestion of toxins during pregnancy. Dogs with Spina bifida have trouble walking, controlling their muscles, and are often incontinent. Spina bifida is usually discovered in dogs when they are puppies and the severity of symptoms varies greatly.
The prognosis and life expectancy for dogs born with Spina bifida is dependent on many factors. If a dog has significant spinal cord damage and shows severe signs of neurological deficits, the outlook is guarded and sadly, sometimes grim. However, if the dog shows few or no observable symptoms the prognosis is more hopeful. You can find more complete information on Spina bifida here.
Helping LaCroix and Other Paralyzed Dogs
ALIVE is partnering with Bialy’s Wellness Foundation, an organization that provides families with special needs animals with the equipment, medical care, rehabilitative therapy, training, support, and resources to optimize quality of life and keep these beauties in loving homes – and out of shelters.
Bialy’s Wellness Foundation was started in 2014 and named after Bialy, a severely abused stray puppy rescued just before Christmas. Bialy was only two months old when she was found with a wound on her neck and a fractured T11 vertebrate. She received extensive therapy for her injuries and worked with behaviorists and trainers to ease her anxiety from early trauma. She was co-adopted by two loving families. Although Bialy passed away in 2014, her spirit and legacy continues to inspire the work and mission of the foundation.
Want to help dogs with special needs, paralysis and spina bifida? Please share LaCroix’s story AND make a donation to ALIVE Rescue and/or Bialy’s Wellness Foundation. Your donation to ALIVE will support their ongoing rescue efforts including rehoming, spaying and neutering more dogs from the same location. A donation to Bialy’s Wellness Foundation will help cover ongoing supportive care, equipment, and therapy for dogs with special needs.
Bialy’s Wellness Foundation raises funds through events and an e-commerce store where they sell some of the most adorable merchandise around!
UPDATE: READ AN UPDATE ON LACROIX HERE.
LaCroix is part of The Specials, an award-winning blog series focusing on special needs pet adoption. Senior pets, those with chronic medical issues, behavioral or temperament concerns as well as overlooked or misunderstood breeds like Pits and black cats. If not for the courage and compassion of their adopters, many of these animals might have been euthanized in shelters or died alone and hungry on the streets. You can read more special needs adoption posts here.