Life with Differently-Abled Dogs

After this month's edition of Belly Rubs went out, I received this email from one of our Embraced pet parents sharing her story about her differently-abled pets. I enjoyed it so much, I thought I'd share it with you.


Your latest Belly Rubs Newsletter (“Differently-abled Pets are AMAZING”) brought happy tears to my eyes, because you shined a very positive light on an issue that hits very close to home for me.

BenjaminMy sweet special-needs boy was Benjamin. A little schnauzer-beagle mix, he came into my life as the runt of an unwanted, pound-bound litter. When he looked up at me with those soulful brown eyes, I was a goner. He needed me and somehow I knew it. I couldn’t realize at the time just how right I would be...and just how much he would give back to me in return.

Within the first week of rescuing him, kennel cough surfaced. Shortly after, he began experiencing chronic digestive problems no one could seem to fully diagnose. After a couple of rough years full of trial and error, it was discovered he had a combination of food allergies and inflammatory bowel
disease (IBD). The search for a diet that would eliminate his symptoms began. Thankfully, the perfect food eventually came along. Little did I know…this medical struggle would only be the beginning.

Shortly after his fourth birthday, while chasing his favorite ball in the back yard, Ben ruptured a disk in his back. Our local vets didn’t have the facilities to repair the damage, so I transported him to the nearest neurology center...three hours away. It was there I was given the option to authorize the
very costly surgery, or have him put to sleep. He was part of my family. I couldn’t let him go without a fight. And so, I maxed out my credit cards, and the surgery began. Although the procedure prevented him from becoming a quadriplegic, his hind legs were permanently paralyzed. Thankfully, he was in no pain and still had a lot of fight left in him.

Ben (Special Olympics)The months that followed were full of sadness, frustration, and a lot of trial and error, while navigating through this new wilderness in which Ben and I now found ourselves. I held tight to my determination to give this precious little dog the best care possible, and to the faith that God would give me the strength and resources I needed to do so.

I had to do bladder expressions and bowel stimulations for Ben four times a day, but I devised ways of doing both that made the routine much easier and kept him clean and dry. I fitted him for a custom wheel chair, which vastly improved his quality of life.

Benjamin’s incredible spirit and patience with his new life was so moving, and his condition gifted me with the chance to enrich people’s lives in a distinctive way. I began taking him to nursing homes and adult daycare facilities for the developmentally disabled, where the vision of him in his wheelchair fascinated the residents and put them instantly at ease. He also enabled me to educate young children on the importance of accepting and embracing the differences that make us all unique.

As word spread around town (our local newspaper did a story about us), people began to seek me out for my advice and/or assistance in helping them grapple with their own special-needs pet situations. It was yet another positive way this challenge impacted my life. The day a young woman tearfully told me that meeting me and Ben had just helped her make the decision not to euthanize her
recently paralyzed dog will be one I will never forget.   

The road is difficult; however, the journey is worth the sacrifice. Life will be different, yes, but it can also be rich, beautiful, and more rewarding that you could ever imagine. As a special-needs pet parent, I realized I am a much stronger and resourceful person than I ever dreamed and I have to say, that kind of self-awareness is a priceless gift.

Bodhi & Stuffed Dog (low res)Benjamin passed away last April. Although I miss him terribly, I wouldn’t change a moment of our life together. I actually adopted a little carbon copy of him last November. He crossed my path when I least expected it. Another rescue terrier mix, his name is Bodhi, and he is the spitting image of Ben in
looks, temperament, attitude... He’s only lacking the wheels :-)  

My purpose for writing this letter and sharing my story with you is to let you know how much it meant to see a company like Embrace showing the wonderful, uplifting side of adopting special-needs pets. More often than not, people tend to focus on the negative aspects...the hard stuff...the challenges.

I also wanted to thank you for creating Embrace. When I went through everything with Ben, I didn’t have pet insurance to help defray the cost. When I first adopted him, I looked into getting a policy, but there wasn’t what I considered to be solid pet insurance companies out there back then. It was all too subjective and I didn’t feel confident the coverage would be there when I needed it. Consequently, I am still paying off Ben’s massive medical bills.

When I brought Bodhi into my life, I researched pet insurance again. This time, I found your incredible company. Right away, I knew it would be different. Your policies, your coverage, your amazing customer service team, and your general overall approach to the pet/person bond let me know I could be confident in purchasing a policy with you. And that is precisely what I did. In January of
this year, Bodhi’s policy took effect.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Related Posts:
May is All About Differently-Abled Pets at Embrace Pet Insurance
Guest Post: differently-abled dogs and people
Podcast: Dr Patrick Mahaney on Differently-Abled Pets
Life with Differently-Abled Dogs


Get an Embrace Pet Insurance Quote