National Specially-Abled Pets Day recognises the members of the world’s pet population that need some assistance within their lives. With the aid of pet mobility devices and the love of their owners, disabled pets have actually proved they are very able.
Colleen Paige founded the day, which was originally called ‘Disabled Pets Day’. However, she felt the term ‘disabled’ ‘held too negative a connotation’, and the name ought to be changed to recognise the fact that these celebrated pets are actually very capable. She created the day to raise awareness about any animals that are specially-abled for a variety of reasons, whether they were born that way or came to be how they are because of their life experiences.
There are some remarkable stories demonstrating how these pets are able to live unhindered despite their challenges. Lucy the dog climbed a mountain, even though both of her rear legs were paralysed when she was hit by a car as a puppy. The dog was rescued from the streets of Puerto Rico and taken to a shelter, where she was adopted by her owner, Courtney Dunning. Dunning said she knew ‘she was for me’ after realising Lucy needed a dog wheelchair. After discovering the dog’s enjoyment of walking long distances, Dunning took her on a 45 minute mountain hike to see how she would respond. Since Lucy didn’t show any signs of tiredness, Dunning decided to take her on a five hour hike up Mount Washington to demonstrate the abilities of specially-abled pets and raise awareness. This story shows that animals like Lucy can still experience a fulfilling life.
Nelson the cat won the Most Incredible Story award at the National Cat Awards in 2014. He had experienced more trauma and turmoil during his life than most humans, and has still managed to bounce back with remarkable vigour. He and his litter mates were found by a fisherman after being thrown into the sea in a sack. After living at the docks and being homeless for fifteen years, he was viciously attacked with rocks by a gang, leading him to lose an eye. Sadly, the cat was diagnosed with an inoperable heart condition in January of last year, but with the help of his new family, he is still living a happy life and being cared for in the way he always deserved to be.
These inspiring examples illustrate just how remarkable specially-abled pets can be, and why they should not be dismissed. For instance, a blind animal can learn commands via hand signals rather than sounds, whereas a deaf animal uses their whiskers to detect air movements. Animals such as these will never love their owners any less, and may just need the effort of someone who is willing to care for them.
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