Who Gave Who the Gift?

Caring for an animal with special needs can be challenging, but I find it very rewarding. I volunteer for a local rescue group, RSVP, Inc. (Responsible Solutions for Valued Pets.) Our group is made up of all volunteers, we take dogs/cats in from local shelters & from as far as New York City. Many of the dogs we take in are dogs who are older and are having medical problems/special needs.

Here is a story of one dog & a woman whom I will change their names. Dawn is in her early 80’s. Dawn’s husband passed away several years ago, her son lives about 40 miles away as does her granddaughter. The granddaughter works full time and has pets of her own. Her son is retired but has medical problems, so can’t visit as often as he would like. Dawn’s dog of 13 years passed away. Dawn had become depressed and her family was getting really concerned for her welfare. Dawn’s family contacted RSVP looking to adopt a dog for Dawn. Dawn could get around, but did walk with a cane or a walker.

We needed a dog that was calm, which would not be spooked by the cane or walker, needed to be in a quiet home with someone who was home almost all the time. We had just gotten in a dog with several problems; Duchess was a product of a broken family, a divorce that did not happen easily and made Duchess fearful. Duchess grew up with another dog that would go after her as play, but it was anything but play. Duchess was close to 7 years young and had developed incontinence. The family started to notice behavioral problems developing with the dog also which forced them give her up.

RSVP went to work on Duchess’s behavioral issues and set up an appointment to meet with Dawn. We explained Duchess’s issues, offered to continue to work with Dawn for as long as necessary to help with the behavioral problems, set up a vet appointment to see if we could help with the incontinence.

Over the course of several weeks, training under control, medications were applied to help Duchess some with her incontinence; some tricks to help keep dog bedding clean were used, (using a shower curtain under bedding cover made any clean up much easier) and Dawn was feeling better about having Duchess in her home.
Dawn was prior depressed, lonely, and afraid at night because she lived alone, not anymore because Duchess was very, very happy to be her companion.

A well known speaker, Steve Rizzo said, “Never lose hope, even the smallest of light shines in the darkness.” Dawn needed Duchess and Duchess needed Dawn, together they gave each other something no one else could.

Steve & I both live, love, & care for 3 dogs with special needs (4 dogs in total), two have been recently adopted & as long as they have a light shinning in their eyes, their tails thump on the dog bed, they give us that kiss or paw & look us in the eyes like they can see into our souls, we will continue to count our blessings for having been given the gift of another day with each one of them.

If ever the chance arises to offer an animal with special needs a spot into your heart & home, whether it is a pet with atrophy, paralysis, feline leukemia, blindness, a heart conditions or cancer, yes it will be challenging, but I can promise you this – you will be reminded some day you will get old too or sick & hope someone will help you when you need it.

Article contributed by Gina Lepine-Rizzo.