By Lisa Murray, PR Director of Walkin’ Pets
Adopting a disabled dog can be a deeply fulfilling experience, so don’t be scared off by a dog’s special needs! While disabled dogs may need a little extra care, there are many resources available these days that make it relatively easy to attend to their needs. Advances in mobility aids, such as dog wheelchairs, enable many disabled dogs to live a high-quality life.
Consider the following five questions to help discern if adopting a special needs dog is right for you:
1. Am I in the financial position to pay for medically related expenses?
Not every disabled dog needs extra medical attention, but many benefit from interventions such as canine rehabilitation, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, or massage. Make sure you know what a prospective adoptee might need so you can assess if you are able to provide the type of care she needs to thrive.
2. Do I have enough time to adequately care for a disabled dog?
Any pet deserves your time and attention, but a disabled dog may need a little more. Helping a dog in and out of a dog wheelchair, or potentially diapering an incontinent pet, are important considerations.
“It wound up to be no harder than caring for any other dog,” says the owner of Lucy, a disabled rescue from Mexico. “You just put your efforts into slightly different areas. Caring for a disabled dog isn’t out of anyone’s reach – you just have to go into it feeling like you can do it!”
3. Is my whole family on board, including other pets?
Make sure everyone in your family is as eager to adopt a disabled dog as you are! If there are other humans in your household who might resent the dog, or if you have other pets who may not want to share your affection or attention, those are red flags too large to ignore.
4. Am I truly ready to make a lifelong commitment?
Unwanted disabled dogs are often bounced around between different homes and animal shelters when pet owners “change their mind.” Spare an animal that fate by vowing to make a lifelong commitment!
5. Can I deal with differences?
Your dog’s disability may draw attention, both positive and negative. You need to be prepared for that and able to comfortably deal with it. Do some soul searching to make sure you are willing to wholeheartedly welcome a pet into your home and heart who others may view as “imperfect.”
The rewards of adopting a disabled dog can be enormous, from the love and appreciation the dog will give you, to the hope he can inspire in others. The owner of Omid, a disabled rescue dog brought to the U.S. from Iran, says, “I’ve learned a lot from him. His spunk and love can’t be measured.”