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Speaking up for the animal with special needs

Updated on January 19, 2013
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Speaking from experience (and I am sure that many of us have had these moments), it is definitely not easy to be a person or animal with special needs. Other than feeling that there is no place for you, you have to deal with added problems if you have special needs - dietary, physical or, in some cases, emotional. Without choice, people or animals with special needs have to face criticism and, ultimately, rejection. There is no need for me (but I am doing it anyway) to mention that the special needs animal sometimes experiences discomfort both physically and emotionally, heightened especially if there is no care or support given.

So on this rather serious note I introduce the animal with special needs. These are very special creatures that need everyone’s care and attention because of a lack of a place in the world owing to their disabilities or debilitating circumstances of one kind or another. Definitely, looking after one is far from being the easiest thing, considering they are not aesthetically pleasing. Our positive vibes are simply not aroused by the diseased, deformed or handicapped. Coming across creatures such as these can confuse as well because of the pity we may feel on one hand and the burden of its needs on the other.

Before going on any further, one may wonder which animals constitute this group. To myself, at least, these creatures who cannot seem to get our attention fall into 5 broad categories - the runts of litters, the diseased, the handicapped, the deformed, and the grand daddy of them all - the senior pet. These creatures all have added burdens in their lives and require a little more care and attention.


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What animals form this group?

The Runts Of Litters

In animal litters, it is not surprising to find one who is much smaller than his brothers and sisters - the runt. (Being rather small myself, I am a little more partial to these fellows. )These little ones find it a little more difficult to nurse than their litter mates and are often ignored by the group. Pushed aside, they are victims of the maxim “survival of the fittest,” - while some grow to be handsome, healthy animals, others, unfortunately perish for want of food and comfort.

When I was a little younger, I took in a pint sized Bichon Frise. Being Chinese, our family named her Mei Mei (or sister.) Being undersized, it was cast aside by the rest of the group and the breeder had problems selling it. It was kept in “mill” conditions - cramped and a little dirty. She had health problems too, what with being sickly and a little malnourished. There is a little more on her, which I shall share later.

The diseased

This group of animals form a pained and more than unfortunate lot. Other than the discomfort they garner from their condition, many are painfully - in more sense than one - rejected because few people are able to accept the responsibilities that come with taking care of a sick pet.

I paid a visit to Singapore’s Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and immediately felt rather sorry upon entering its doors. The animals that were quickly snapped up form adoption were of course, as it turned out, those who were healthy and had no attached problems. A Standard Sized Poodle I came across had hair and few chunks of skin falling by the side. A lab lying still was malnourished and sickly. Cleaning the pens proved to be a task too, with the surrounding odor and everything else that might be a shame to name.

Handicapped Animals

Many of these are unfortunately born in conditions that are a little cramped, such as those in puppy mills or really small cages where there is no room for the animal to move, causing the loss of a few limbs. Others are, unfortunately, the victims of accidents. Unsurprisingly, they do not fit in as well as their more nimble counterparts, requiring special facilities like wheelchairs to enable their movement.

A Pomeranian I once owned had its legs broken by an ignorant neighbor who threw it in a fit of pique down some stairs. The poor dog had the resulting injuries - it had to be assisted by a K9 cart for some time. Special visits to the veterinarian, of course, took their toll monetarily as well, but the animal lived, thankfully, to a ripe old age.

Animals born with deformities

We know of many of us who are born with Down’s Syndrome, Hydrocephalus and other handicaps which result in unfortunate deformity. Of course, the situation is repeated in the animal world, with some animals being, for want of a better word, uglier than others because of an unwanted condition.

Mei Mei the Bichon had a few deformed teeth in the front of her mouth that did not do wonders for her appearance ( not the best candidate for Cover Dog magazine because her front teeth jutted out). Added to that, the rejection she must have felt at the time made her a little grouchier than expected; till this day (she’s a healthy 18) she still has some esteem issues though my family loves her dearly. Yes, animals can relate.

Senior Pets

The senior pet is another category of animals that need a little more of our attention. These animals, like ourselves, have a wealth of health problems (please pardon the ironic pun) that come with their age - the usual cataract, cancer slowness and other disorders.

My Schnauzer Misty, being 10, is a little slower, and as a result we slow jog with her and my puppy, Cloudy. She has a few eating difficulties as well and needs to be fed at times. As is to be expected, she will require a little more time and attention as she grows older - but having been a companion for an entire decade and more, she is definitely well worth it.

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Why should we care for animals with more needs than others?

What goes around comes around, eventually.

It will, for the most part, seem rather thankless taking care of these special creatures. There will be pay back in karma, though, and people surrounding you gravitate to you because you have that kind heart.

Animals with special needs are just as loyal as other animals.

Animals do sense the care that you give them and this applies to those with needs as well. It can be even more so because these animals will be more than doubly grateful for the concern you show, although they will be a little difficult at times.

You are forced to develop new skills and resilience.

Not many people in the world will be able to say that they know how to maintain wheelchairs and so forth - and the handicapped animal’s wheelchair will require you to do this on a regular basis.

You will also become somewhat of a nutritionist, having to understand its dietary needs. Planning a diet for a special needs patient is not a skill that many can attest to.

Caring for a special needs animal fulfills our need to fix things.

Human beings all have an innate desire to put something right. Caring for an animal with special needs very much fulfills that desire. The pleasure one derives from seeing the animal being properly nursed and glowing with radiant health is a tremendous feeling.

Making the sacrifice adds structure and routine to your life.

You are forced to maintain proper schedules when caring for an animal which needs more help; when to cook for it, when to bring it for examinations by the vet and when it needs its medication. If you are not the best of planners, like myself, this can give you a kick start in being organized.

A dog runs like the wind in his wheelchair!

What would stop you from caring for an animal with special needs?

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Caring for the special needs animal - what do you need?

It is a rhetorical fact that these animals will definitely need some of our attention, albeit frustratingly more than the norm. They are at a disadvantage primarily because not many have the patience or resources to take them in. Indeed, they do require meticulous attention.

In caring for the special needs animal you must....

have lots of patience.

It is always better to admit that your time is limited than to take in an animal with special needs, only to find that the time and resources for taking care of it is only too little; it is only human to become a little impatient in the more trying circumstances they present. Assess if you have that patience before the innate concern all of us have drives us to do something rash.

disregard your aesthetic sense.

Very naturally, these animals will not look as pleasing to the eye. One has to be willing to ignore the fact that these animals, by virtue of what they are, will not be catwalk models any time soon. It is perfectly fine to admit that one is human and cannot accept the looks of such an animal; it is better to do so than to take it in out of pity only to find it an aesthetic burden later and abandon it.

give it lots of exercise.

We can name this Animal Physiotherapy. Exercise will enable the animal to perfect its motor skills and give it more confidence, just as it would a person who is disabled.

As the series of videos attached to this article show, dogs, when properly exercised, know how to use their wheelchairs with practiced finesse. They enjoy the activity as well.

protect it from other animals when necessary.

Such animals will have less ability to defend themselves than other animals, and will lose in ensuing fights or tussles. If you own the runt of a litter, litter mates which are stronger will always be first in line to suckle and you may have to move the animals around so that they get the chance to nurse.

have a special calendar for its diet.

The diet for a special needs animal will require a bit of planning and preparation. It is good to ensure that one has the time to get these plans routinized and prioritized.

Owning an animal with special needs allows you to display your true love for animals; one cannot really say they are animal lovers unless they can accept all its defects and disabilities. Things do come in full circle and taking care of one can be extremely rewarding. If one has the time to spare and is considering adopting an animal, do consider one that needs more of your time. They need homes like others do.

Recovery for dog in a wheelchair.

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    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Nell!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, indeed, Vinaya!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      This is an amazing hub michelle and so very true. I wanted to pick them all up and carry them home for a hug! all animals are special but the special needs ones are beautiful too, voted and tweeted. nell

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      Since we human beings are social animals, we need to care about our inferior friends. Thanks for the tips.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Paul, glad you liked it!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Melanie. This one is special to me too! I had a pomeranian with broken hind legs before. And like humans with disabilities (even more so) they are sadly sidelined. Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      I can totally relate, Natasha. I have a dog with a neurological disorder who needs medication daily for the rest of her life. She's doing well now but is still with a slightly angled neck. I have to watch out for seizures as well! Thanks for coming by!

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      I know someone who has a dog walker/wheelchair/set of back 'legs' to help their oldest dog around. They really love him and it's fantastic that they're there to care for him in his old age. Both of my dogs are middle aged and don't currently have any problems, but my boy was pretty 'special needs' for a while after getting hit by a car and having surgery. I had to help him walk and support him for bathroom trips by using a sling.

    • Paul Maplesden profile image

      Paul Maplesden 4 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Beautiful, brilliant, inspiring and thought provoking hub - Thanks!

    • MelChi profile image

      Melanie Chisnall 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      It's so good to know there are other people out there spreading the word for animals, especially those who have special needs. Thank you so much Michelle! Sharing this far and wide!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      They indeed are, Pamela. Kudos to those who are speaking up for the kittens as well! Thanks for sharing!!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for sharing, Linda!! Animals teach us many things; we can learn much from them!! Thanks so much for liking this and your kind comments!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Mary, I'm flattered! Thanks for sharing too. I like speaking up for the furry kind because they show us true examples of how it is to be human. Thanks for sharing!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      This is a wonderful article. They had a picture in the paper this morning of some kittens that were born blind and the people that were going to care for them. Pets, even those with special needs, are a part of our families in my view. Voted way up!

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

      Michele, this is an amazing article and I will be sharing it across all my social medial sites. These animals are indeed special and have so much love to give and so many lessons to teach us about determination and adapting to our situation. I just loved this one.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      This hub not only shows your love of animals but your caring heart...you write great hubs about dogs, why you could be their spokesperson Michelle. This is an excellent hub.

      Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Dufee, hats off to you as well! I agree so much with your wonderful insight and you will be surely blessed for having such a great heart! Puppy Mills should really be put out of business. Thanks for coming by and sharing this with all!! So glad to read this and all my blessings and love.

    • Duffee profile image

      Duffee 4 years ago

      What a wonderful hub. First my hats off to anyone who adopts a pet and gives that pet a loving forever home. Second, to adopt a dog that needs rescued, is something I admire and it shows me the true potential of human goodness. Third--to rescue or take in a special needs dog--well that just pulls on my heart strings--and melts my heart.

      I am a foster mom to homeless canine furbabies and a mom to a daughter on the Autism spectrum. I foster which ever dog is available--whether it has special needs or not--and I try to pair these beautiful babies with forever homes. I also rescued a dog from a puppy mill situation this summer.

      I can tell you-- if you rescue a dog from a dire situation and pair it up with a beautiful child who is often misunderstood--a beautiful thing can happen. Acceptance. Love. Happiness.

      Thank you for sharing this :)

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      naeemebrahimjee, that is so true! Such animals actually need more of our help than other able bodied ones. The thing is, when we go to the pound, our instincts tell us to look for an animal which is healthy and able to take care of itself!! Thanks for coming by!

    • naeemebrahimjee profile image

      naeemebrahimjee 4 years ago from London

      This is a superb hub. Thank you for writing it. When choosing a pet people always want something perfect and it doesn't even cross most people's minds that the animals who are injured or special needs are in MORE need of our love and care. The Special Needs Animals need us as much as we need them in our lives.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      They are difficult, but a joy to take care of. My dog, who is neurologically imbalanced and can't see anymore, may not be able to find her way around as well, but she's extremely loving!! Thanks so much for coming by!

    • jennzie profile image

      jennzie 4 years ago from Lower Bucks County, PA

      Thanks for this hub. I would definitely take in an animal with special needs if given the opportunity. Voted up and awesome!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      A little difficult to take care of them, but after all, it is rewarding!! Thanks for coming by, Mary!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      As a true animal lover, I enjoyed this article very much. I adopted a Maltese named Mister (I wrote a Hub about that), who was old, had abcessed teeth, and a bad ear infection. I first fostered him, then kept him. I agree: these dogs with special needs should be adopted first.

      I voted this UP, and shared all around.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, Linda, thanks for stopping by!! I have literally a soft spot for the underdog( and these dogs certainly fit the description.) Guess that's what motivated the writing!! Really appreciate it!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      What a beautiful, inspiring and sad article. My neighbor had a dog with three legs and I use to cheer him on when he was out on his daily walks. He was a champ in my eyes. Fab hub and tribute to animals with special needs!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Indeed, storm, these animals are darlings. And kudos to caring people like yourself who take time to rescue such animals - you remind me of a nice lady in my neighborhood who sits daily with the neighborhood strays! She has made an arrangement with the nearby factories and other organizations to keep the dogs. The factory owners have given in - and feed the dogs daily! Thanks for reading - and taking care of the little cat while you could still find it.

    • mythicalstorm273 profile image

      mythicalstorm273 5 years ago

      Wow this was so amazing. I had a kitten once that had no use of its back legs. Unfortunately we tried to keep it healthy but it was an outdoor cat and the mommy cat tried to take it hunting with its brothers and sisters. We rescued it four or five times because we found it in the yard, but one day we could not find it anywhere. It was so sad to think that the mommy cat just left it out there in the world to die. I just loved how heartfelt your message was! I also really enjoyed the last video of the recovery of the dog. It is so amazing!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      true!

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 5 years ago from Orange, Texas

      They say when one sense goes out, the others become keener. At least, it's that way for humans.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Blessings to your friend's dog, Ann. Mine, Misty, is almost blind too. Has to rely on her nose.

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 5 years ago from Orange, Texas

      midget - another hub that had to be written. My best friend had a little dog that was blind. He lived to be almost 15. A more loving dog you'd never find. And she had the patience of a saint.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      They certainly do. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Rice Girl 2011 profile image

      Rice Girl 2011 5 years ago from Southeastern United States

      Great hub! Animals need advocates too. Thank you.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      I've just followed it! :-)

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Hi! The link to my dog twitter is on my profile page. I usually just post stuff from hubpages but will occasionally find something else important that I post.

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thanks for this informative hub, all animals should be treated the same! Thanks for this message Michelle!

      Voted up and useful! :)

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Clover! My heart went out to them today as I wrote this....thought of that Pommy down the stairs. When it happened all those years ago, I couldn't let it go at the time. Was a kid. :-) Still remember him today.

    • cloverleaffarm profile image

      Healing Herbalist 5 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      Great hub. Just because an animal has a handicap doesn't mean it won't give you years worth of love. Thanks for sharing.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Welcome Mark. Hey, send me your dog twitter so I can follow the feed.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks Bill!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      What a beautiful hub from a very caring person. Thank you so much for speaking out for the critters who have no voice. Well done!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Welcome Mark. Hey, send me your dog twitter so I can follow the feed.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Thanks I really appreciated this one. There are special needs pets and humans, and those special need pets cant get by without us. I am going to share this on my dog twitter, thank you again!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Netlemere! Let's all support handicapped animals!

    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      This certainly proves that adage there's life in the old dog. Great to see stories of animals thriving despite the odds thanks to their human carers.