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Special Needs Animals and the Lessons They Bring

Posted by Katya on June 2nd, 2011

Here’s an article from Mamapedia about the lessons special needs animals can teach us, written by Katya, the Director of Partnerships and Promotions for Adopt-a-Pet.com. Maryam Faresh and Bruce Meade have five rescued animals, three cats and two dogs. Two of their five, Daisy and Louie, are special needs pets. They have always rescued animals and appreciated them, but Daisy and Louie have opened their eyes and hearts to a whole new way of rescue.

Louie came to Maryam and Bruce, an eight-month old young kitty with a cast on one back leg and the other back leg’s paw newly amputated. Louie had been born on the streets, and the kind vet who rescued him said he would take care of all the vet bills if they would give him a home. Maryam and Bruce didn’t think twice and welcomed Louie in with open arms.

Louie didn’t realize his limitations; he tried to do things other cats could do like jumping on the bed or on a shelf, but he couldn’t. Maryam and Bruce began to care for Louie: they placed their bed mattress on the floor, lowered any shelves that may be tempting for him to jump on, and would take turns scratching behind his ear to keep him comfy and let him know he was loved! They researched special needs cats online and read up on how to best take care of him. As Louie struggled with everyday normal activities, even getting in and out of the litter box, Maryam and Bruce tried their best, learning as they went along, just like Louie did. He began to thrive.

As time passed Maryam and Bruce found themselves turning to Louie for inspiration. Louie never stopped trying, he never gave up. He learned his limitations, and then, would push through them. Maryam and Bruce see Louie as an amazing spirit to have in their home, a daily reminder of the power of perseverance and fearlessness! And then they met Daisy…

Daisy was born blind and deaf and was passed through three homes before finding Maryam and Bruce. She bonded instantly with their three year old dog, Olivia, but could not bond with them. The first two nights Daisy was up all hours of the night pacing and barking and they knew they needed help with her extreme nervousness.

They soon learned that deafblind animals are very different than just deaf or just blind. The first step was for Maryam and Bruce to understand Daisy’s need for a strict schedule; this would be her life force. Next was they worked on getting Daisy to accept their touch. It took eight months for Daisy to bond with them, and they worked with her day and night. Daisy was not the kind of dog who easily responded to cuddling and kisses…and Maryam spent many nights in tears feeling as if somehow she was failing as a pet parent. But she and Bruce didn’t give up.

One evening the couple went to a friend’s party and they had their three-month old white Labrador Retriever who was of course the life of the party. The guests were cooing over the puppy and his responsiveness and playfulness with everyone! But Maryam kept thinking: What about a dog like Daisy? What about Daisy? When they took Daisy outside people would just stare at her eyes and her obvious blindness and other dogs would pick fights with her due to her disabilities. Maryam and Bruce realized their duty was to love Daisy just as she was, and to make other people understand her greatness.

In one night everything changed – Daisy stopped resisting and the bond was made. It would only grow stronger from there. Maryam and Bruce cried with joy and since then Daisy has learned how to cuddle, kiss, climb stairs, visit new locations and even learn how to swim! Daisy’s strength, joy for life and perseverance is something Bruce and Maryam would never trade for the world. You can view some of Daisy’s amazing accomplishments here.

Maryam is a now strong advocate for special needs animals, and tries to help people understand that special needs can come in many forms: emotional or physical or both. She promotes positive messaging about special needs animals and wants people to know that though they can be challenging, they can be overcome. Bruce and Maryam believe as with any family pet, the success lies in the parent’s willingness to commit to a routine and structure, to do the work and support their furry family member.

The couple has dedicated their lives to spreading the message that rescuing special needs animals is amazing and inspiring. You don’t need extensive animal experience, just the patience, love and dedication needed to support them. Bruce and Maryam hope to be a support system for other families willing to open their homes and hearts to special needs animals. They hope to ease the minds of other special needs pet parent’s out there.

Daisy’s and Louie’s spirits inspired Maryam to write a children’s book called What about Daisy? which tells the story of a deafblind rescue dog in search of her forever home. With the help of her canine rescue mom, her two fairies, and a three legged cat named Louie, the adventure to find Daisy her loving home will entertain and warm the hearts of many children and their families. It encourages kids to love those with special needs just the same. To date Daisy has visited and taught more than 1,500 students throughout California about tolerance and acceptance for special needs children and animals!

And Louie and Daisy lived happily ever after…

Learn more and check out What About Daisy? the children’s book at What About Daisy.

Please consider finding a special needs pet to adopt or foster by searching Adopt-a-Pet.com and checking the “Has Special Needs” box when you run your search!

 
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