It’s All a Matter of Perception…

by DFS-Pet-Blog on May 3, 2011

Disabled-Dog**Guest post from Janet S.**

When you pull into the Northwoods driveway of the Brood household, you will most likely be greeted with delight by one of their motley crew. Their human family is rounded off with two senior dogs, a one-eyed dog, and a three-legged cat. It is not what you normally expect for your household of pets. However, I can tell you, each brings their own delight and joy to the family and others!

First, let me introduce you to Bandit. Bandit is an Australian Cattle Dog that the Brood family adopted at about age two. His current family was getting rid of him, as he was a working dog that had been kicked by a horse and lost his left eye. They were fearful that it might happen again, where he was. The Broods took him in and continued to work with him. His eye area was healed at the time, but it took awhile for him to settle in, and be comfortable with people touching him on his belly or where he could not see you.

Horses

Bandit seems to have adjusted well over the past five years as he helps herd horses, cattle, and on a few occasions a couple of sheep at Fort Wilderness (a camp in northern WI). It is an absolute delight to watch Bandit in action! It is almost mesmerizing to see him herd. He keeps his “blind side” to his owner Jonathan most of the time. This is most likely to keep him feeling safe and secure.

Bandit also seems to have overcome any struggles with depth perception and jumps onto trailers and trucks with ease. He has blended in well with their two golden retrievers and three-legged cat Cody.  He loves to be with people and be petted. For those fearful of the reaction to a one-eyed pet, let me reassure you that it usually takes awhile for people to even notice and his personality outdoes any physical deficit.

Disabled-Cat

Next, let’s meet Cody. Cody was adopted very young too and is about seven years old. Cody is an indoor/outdoor cat and stays right around his house. However, as a young cat, a person in the area shot Cody. He came home bleeding and injured. He was rushed to the vet where his front leg was amputated to save him. He came out of surgery well and quickly adjusted to having three legs. He can still jump vertically numerous feet without trouble, hunt down troublesome wild critters, and flee from his housemates with ease when he doesn’t want to play. He is a very affectionate cat. He loves to be petted behind his ears and loves treats.

His main issue as a “specially-abled” pet is the fact that he cannot groom himself on his right side. He compensates for this by having owners assist. He will lick your hand and want you to pet him or lick your hand and rub against it where he needs to clean. The Broods care for him by cleaning out the ear on the side he cannot take care of himself.

Disabled-Cat-Cody

He is well balanced and quite quick in all other activities. From a distance, you almost cannot tell he is missing a front leg. He definitely leads a happy kitty life!

Accidents and illnesses are very sad situations for our furry friends, but there is definitely life and fun afterward. These pets are a great example to us to persevere through our trials. Besides, who else can sing their Christmas songs with “a three-legged cat, two senior dogs, and a dog with only one eye?” By having these “specially-abled” pets around, we have the perfect formula for fun, love and laughter.

So, Happy Specially-abled Pets Day! Give all those special ones an extra treat, some extra petting, and next time you’re looking for a new companion, consider one with special needs so they are not left without love!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosemary May 3, 2011 at 8:48 am

For almost 13 years, I had a one-eyed dog. Doberman Pinscher mix Gin lost her right eye to an accident involving a toddler and a wire coat hanger (she belonged to some else at the time) when she was 8 weeks old. It never slowed her down. She could see and chase squirrels like a dog with two eyes. She did have a few accidents because of the missing eye, like the time she went after a squirrel, then turned to come back to me, and ran into a sign post.

B.J. the cat wasn’t an amputee, but his right elbow joint was frozen. He got out and into a fight the day before we left on a two week vacation, then hid from the cat-sitter the entire time we were gone. We came home to find him with a huge abcess, invovling his face, throat, and entire right leg. He was on antibiotics for weeks, but the infection got into his elbow joint, immobilizing it. He hopped around on three legs for several months. My vet said he had nerve function, just no movement, so we could wait until our income tax refund came to do the amputation. Then, one day he started putting wight on it, and using it after a fashion. If he ran, he only used the three legs, but other than that, used all four.

It was so funny to see him groom himself. Because his right leg wouldn’t support him, he would balance on his haunches, sitting upright, and use his left paw to wash his face. He also looked very lopsided, because of the way the muscles in his right shoulder remodeled. Some atrophied, others got larger, and his shoulder blade was displaced upward. A cat’s shoulder blade is not attached to a joint, like a person’s, but is free floating, held by the muscles. It is part of why cats are so flexible, and what helped him to move the leg, even with the frozen joint.

I seriously doubt that either Gin or B.J. considered themselves “handicapped”. I certainly didn’t. The only concession I really made for Gin was telling her we were going to turn while she was heeeling in training class. It annoyed the (old-school, rigid disciplinarian) trainer, but I figured it was kinder to warn her, rather than just jank the leash when she didn’t turn because she couldn’t see me turn.

B.J. was “boss cat”, and my autistic son’s playmate, until he died. He kept all the other cats in line, still hunted (and caught) lizards, mice, and birds, and tolerated my son carrying him around and tossing him in the air (and landing gracefully after a toss).

AJ May 20, 2011 at 2:41 pm

What sweet stories, both in the actual post and Rosemary’s response! I don’t have any disabled pets myself, but one of my good friends recently had to have her dog’s eyes amputated. He gets along just fine, and clearly still enjoys life — especially when life enjoys house guests with fingernails who love to give dogs scritches 😉 I also met a three-legged dog at my vet’s office once. She came charging right in to meet everyone and didn’t let her disability slow her down at all. Dogs are amazing!

I’m @erthefae and I follow @DFS_Ellen in Twitter!

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