Special needs companion animals. More work and more appreciation.
“…the love and loyalty you receive from a special needs pet is unlike any explicable bond I’ve ever felt before…” – Mandy James
I am taking my cue from three kindhearted and wise people living in Oklahoma, USA. They are Heather Hernandez, 32, her husband John and friend Mandy James.
They rescue special needs dogs. This site is about cats so I won’t go into detail about their work but will focus on the principles of their work; what motivates them and the rewards.
It might sound overly dramatic but when I read their story on the Mail Online, I thought of Mother Teresa. She went towards people who were rejected by others. Those at the bottom and on the fringes. The outsiders and the outcasts. That was truly Christian work (note: I am not religiously-minded).
But you don’t have to be Christian to behave like this. You have to have a heart and a mind that realises that the misfits and outcasts of the companion animal world, the animals that rescue centres put down, are individuals with the same value and feelings as any other. In saving their lives and restoring them to health and happiness you receive a special reward. You know that you have done something good, the right thing and, in the case of dogs, you receive, ‘much more adoration and appreciation from those animals’.
It is the old formula: the more you put in, the more you get out. Heather said:
“It’s always messy, it’s always stressful, and it’s always worth it, to show the special needs pets that they matter too. Caring for special needs animals typically takes a lot more work than traditionally ‘adoptable’ animals. With more work, comes so much more adoration and appreciation from those animals. A dog’s companionship can change the world for a human.”
That pretty well sums it up. They started Mutt Misfits a couple of years ago. It was a big step because, remarkably, they have full-time jobs. They have cared for 300 dogs since inception.
‘It’s an insane amount of work and stress.’
There will be loses because their dogs are often very ill or badly injured. One dog, Micky, had been brought in in terrible condition. He had ‘gone septic from the mange, infection, parasites and neglect’.
They rushed him to the emergency vet and asked for maximum effort with no expense spared as they said they would find the money. Wow. That’s guts.
But Micky ‘crashed’. His body gave up. He was on ICU for 12 hours.
“We sat on the floor and cried with him.”
The failures are raw and hurtful. The successes are richly rewarded. The dogs give back in adoration and appreciation what they receive in love and care.
That’s the secret of caring for a companion animal. The more you give, the more you get back.
The rule applies to cats too! Don’t think that the cat is independent and can be left to her own devices. Concern, care, thought and effort (in play and interaction) will be rewarded.
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I love the scratch and dent shelter cats. One of mine is an 11 year old Himalayan that I adopted last year when she was 10. When I adopted her she was declawed, one tooth, an undershot jaw and had 14 pages of medical records of things the shelter had to do to help save her.
A few months after I adopted her it was found that an eye had to be removed.
So now she’s my one-eyed one tooth grumpy faced kitty. She’s super sweet and gets around just fine with a couple sets of steps I purchased for her.
So much truth in your article, Michael. I have teary eyes. Special needs animals bring more to our hearts and lives than we can ever give to them in return. ??