Dogs are natural optimists and always themselves. They don’t pretend to be something or someone other than who they are – dogs.
While we celebrate this dog-ness in our own dogs, we often misinterpret the same authenticity as sad in dogs with special needs. Whether blind, deaf or living with impaired mobility, dogs with special needs share the same enthusiasm and zest for life as other dogs. They don’t know (or care) that they are different; they just want to do normal dog things like play, snuggle and spend time with friends they love. Dogs are dogs and don’t overthink things or get caught-up in ‘what ifs’. To quote kindergarten teachers everywhere, they get what they get and they don’t get upset.
Rescuing A Dog With Special Needs
Sir Enzo Cavatappi aka “Tappi” is a 12-week-old Cavalier puppy full of sparkle and wonder with ears and eyes as big as his heart. Like all puppies, he’s forever on the move and loves wiggling, playing with his foster brother and watching cartoons (see video below for head tilt cuteness).
Tappi’s breeder surrendered him for euthanasia because he wasn’t using his back legs. The consulting veterinarian discovered that Tappi has a congenital abnormality of the thoracic vertebrae at T-6 – T-8 or in simple terms, a malformation of several vertebrae in his spine. Tappi has some mobility in his hind legs but will need ongoing, consistent canine rehabilitation to build his strength. Earlier this week, he underwent an MRI and CT scan that revealed he has severe compression of his spinal cord around T7. After consulting with many specialists, his rescue and care team decided to focus on continued rehabilitation and quality of life rather than putting him through surgery.
Tappi currently lives in a foster home with another partially paralyzed dog – you may remember Josh, LaCroix’s foster brother. Though he is not yet ready for adoption, he will eventually need a family willing and able to provide continued rehabilitation, including therapeutic exercises, acupuncture, and hydrotherapy. Tappi will also need ongoing help expressing his bladder and regular, consistent grooming.
Bialy’s Wellness Foundation (BWF) and rescue organization Be Fido’s Friend are partnering to help Tappi get the care, treatment, and home he deserves. Founded in 2014, BWF provides families with special needs pets 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. The organization was inspired 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 vertebra. She received extensive therapy for her injuries and worked with behaviorists and trainers to ease her anxiety from early trauma. Although Bialy passed away in 2014, her spirit continues to inspire the work and mission of BWF.
Although Tappi is not yet available for adoption, he is already attracting tons of attention. Cavaliers are incredibly popular and not usually found in shelters. “It’s wonderful but also important to remember that there are SO MANY dogs in need,” says Erin Kowalski, BWF’s founder.
Erin encourages potential adopters to see the big picture and not get too focused on one dog. She hopes Tappi will inspire others to consider adopting a dog with special needs with just as much cuteness!
Changing the perception of dogs with special needs
Erin says that she often gets upsetting comments when walking Josh and Tappi. “Oh, poor dog. That’s so sad. What’s happened him?”
While these folks probably mean well, their questions imply there’s something wrong with or negative about these dogs. One of BWF’s 2019 goals is to change the conversation around and perception of dogs with mobility impairment. Perception changes everything – when you look at something differently, more openly, things change! Living things whether trees, people, or dogs are imperfect and that’s what makes them so extraordinary. Imperfect doesn’t mean broken, unadoptable or tragic, it means round, dense, unique, beautiful, and complex.
Tappi and Josh are smart, friendly, happy-go-lucky dogs with a great quality of life. There’s nothing sad or broken about them. They are just dogs doing normal dog things but in their own super amazing way. Not convinced? Watch the video and see them in action for yourself.
Want to help dogs with special needs and impaired mobility? Please share Tappi’s story AND consider making a donation to Bialy’s Wellness Foundation. Your donation to BWF will help cover ongoing supportive care, equipment, and therapy for dogs and other pets with special needs.
Bonus points: Bialy’s Wellness Foundation also raises funds through an e-commerce store where they sell some of the most adorable merchandise around much of which features Josh!
Tappi 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.