THESE DOG DAYS
A resource for disabled dogs and their owners
Today we bring you the story of Fitzgerald’s very own Christmas miracle.
We meet Amber who, inspired by her mother’s request to do something kind for someone else at Christmas, contacted her local rescue to see how she could help. The rest of the story is worthy of its own TV Christmas special!
Thanks to Amber for sharing your story and bringing us all some Christmas cheer. Happy holidays to all of our special needs dogs and their families.
How did Fitzgerald come to be in your life?
Here is the story of how I became the mother of Fitzgerald. Christmas last year, my parents said not to get them presents but to save the money and do something charitable. I have always rescued animals so it was my mission to find a worthy cause. I found Logan's Rescue in the next town over and saw a girl my age leading a rescue effort all on her own. I was inspired, so to make it personal I reached out and gave her what she needed on her wish list.
When I went over her house I wanted to meet her fosters. That's when I met "Lincoln" at the time, a paralyzed 6 months old puppy who was the sassiest baby you will ever meet! He didn't care he was different. He wanted to live, to love, to meet everyone. I fell in love right there.
I did as much research as I could to make a sound decision. Would he get along with my other 55 pound rescue pit, could I afford his needs, is my house enough, and am I enough? Long story short, he and my current dog got along like brothers instantly and the money portion, well it was reasonable but I was so in love I'd go into whatever debt it takes just to give him the best life.
Could you tell us about Fitzgerald's handicap?
Fitzgerald's previous owners said that at 4 weeks the puppy was stepped on and gave him away. That family did not offer him medical care and wasn't surrendered to foster until he was 3 months.
After many consults, therapies it was determined he would be forever paralyzed in is back legs. His front legs, either due from the initial trauma or bad breeding did not grow at the same rate. His front feet are turned out like a basset hound because the bones grew faster in some places and the strain of all his weight on his front paws even his shoulders are turned out. After taking him to consults with orthopaedic surgeons surgery is an option but he will still develop arthritis, so there is no "fix".
What is a regular day like with Fitzgerald and your other dog, Hemingway?
Weekday mornings are a matter of routine. I have to wake Fitzgerald and his brother Hemingway and bring them downstairs to get water and Hemingway to go outside. I get ready for work and change Fitzgerald's diaper. I get out my lunch and then its time for the boys to eat breakfast in their cage while I put the radio on for them and blow lots of kisses and tell them to have a good day :)
I work close to home so during lunch I come home everyday to let Hemingway outside and change Fitzgerald's diaper. If its sunny out we sit in the sun for 10 mins and get our vitamin D. I give them the wet food that I make every week and put them back in their crates. At night when I get home from work, Hemingway goes potty and then sucks on a toy for 30 mins while I change Fitzgerald and give home some love. They then get fed, drink water and then they want to play tug together. This continues for an hour. They take each others toys from each other til they both hit the wall.
I put Fitzgerald in his custom wheel cart from Ruff Rollin and we walk around the living room trying not to bump into everything while I throw treats on the floor for both dogs in all directions so they have a scavenger hunt to find.
After all this its my shower time and the boys are exhausted. Some nights, depending on the weather, we do the cart training or a walk with both of them but Fitzgerald gets tired so easy. Mental stimulation and their play time is the best exercise for them.
My weekends are for the dogs. I have made them lazy in the mornings. We get up early and potty and diaper change. Then they eat and nap until about 9am while momma watches t.v. and wakes up.
We clean the house together. While Hemingway tries to eat the vacuum cleaner, Fitzgerald runs away from it. I do my errands and food prep for the week, cooking away while they both sit by my feet in case any food falls to the ground. Fitzgerald loves everything even vegetables. Hemingway is all about the meat and stinky food. Food prep is also prep for the week.
I buy size 3 diapers from walmart once a month and cut holes in the back for Fitzgerald so his tail fits in them. I then place a maxi pad in the front for his winki that leaks constantly. I wash both their blankets and Fitzgerald's winki covers which are specially made that go over his diaper since that has a mind of his own and he needs extra protection. There isn't always preparation, every weekend I try for both dogs to give them a bucket list. Whether its seeing a beach and sand, or a car ride, going to see people at Petsmart and Lowes. Its all about showing both of them especially Fitzgerald everything in life.
Are there any product that have helped you care for a paralyzed dog?
Having an incontinent dog, the easiest thing to do when you leave the house is pack a diaper bag in case of emergencies.
How has you experience been adopting a special needs dog?
My co-workers and even my family thought it was absolutely insane, this journey. So much so my own mother told me when I finally told her I adopted him that she would help me re-home him. I have now had him 7 months. He just turned 1 year old.
He's a fan favorite at my grandmas nursing home and he kisses children and adults a like. My mother and 90 dementia grandmother helped me buy his custom wheel cart. They both can not stop talking about him.
He changes lives. He changes mine. Gave me light, love and a true purpose that different, challenged isn't sad. He's the happiest dog I know who despite his rough upbringing by the hands of people, holds no grudge. His is a message for the world, that no matter what life gives you there is hope, love, happiness. It just looks a little different then what we perceive is norm.
My dad just two weeks ago spent a whole day with him and I at the beach. Now my dad doesn't get dogs and rescue and spending money on them. He is about kids and traveling and thinks that pets interfere with your freedom and chain you down. But after this day with Fitzgerald and I, he called me the next day and goes, " I get it. " I get him now and why he's so special and why you fell in love. He just wants love and to be near you and loves what the world has to offer. I cried at that point because that was a turning point for us.
I look at animals and dogs as looking through a child's eyes. I might sometimes think they are more resilient as they don't go to a therapist to get over their history. They look at the world with possibility and trusting hopefulness and light. That is what inspires me and is what made me adopt Fitzgerald. This isn't something I sought after, this was life coming to me. And everyday I struggle that I do enough and am enough for my boys. Especially Fitzgerald who deserves every good possible thing in this life.
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