Celebrating Disabled Pets

Handicapped pug dog with wheelsHappy National Specially-Abled Pets Day! Established in 2006 to celebrate and educate the public on pets with disabilities, the hope is that awareness will encourage people to foster and adopt animals with special needs.

Originally known as “Disabled Pets Day,” organizers quickly realized that name did not showcase the unique spirit of disabled animals. One of the most inspiring characteristics of these pets is that they do not think of themselves as disabled. Limitations do not hold them back or cause them sadness; they happily move on with their lives by making adjustments based on their condition. These skills instinctively developed in the face of adversity make them “specially-abled,” extra-special companions.

Animals who are blind develop an even sharper sense of hearing and smell. The most important trick when bringing a blind pet into your home is not to move the furniture; their ability to memorize floor plans will have them tearing through the house in no time! When animals lose their hearing, they become even more sensitive to vibration and movement. Hand signals are a great way of communicating and flashlights can be used to attract their attention when they aren’t actively watching you. An important consideration for deaf and blind pets is that they can be easily startled. Make sure that they are aware of your presence before you attempt to pet them so they remain calm and happy.

Animals with three legs, known as “tripods,” function as well their four-legged counterparts. In fact, vets often comment that the fourth leg is redundant because animals adjust so quickly to only having three. When animals are down to two legs, they are known as “bipeds” and wheelchairs usually help them keep up with the pack. Advancements in technology are also leading to bionic pets thanks to more opportunities to make customized prosthetics for animals. Dogs with missing limbs are especially helpful as therapy animals because of their resilience in the face of their disability. A particularly inspiring therapy dog was Faith, a biped dog who spent her life showing the world that “being different makes the difference.”

Similar to humans, a wide range of disabilities appear in the animal world. Learn more about dogs with disabilities and consider sharing your home with one of these specially-abled animals.