“Special Needs” Pets or Simply “Special”?
by Tammy Souch
When I began the ground work for this article, it didn’t dawn on me that it would be posted to the Bessie Mac website during Petfinder.com’s “Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week.” Petfinder.com has adopted September 17-25 as the week to put a spotlight on all of the wonderful pets out there who need someone to love and appreciate them just for who they are – no matter their size, fur color, or medical needs.
Truly it takes a special person to do just that, and Sharon Beckham, who lives outside of Kansas City, Mo., is an excellent example. She has adopted many of the world’s castaways, and believes that God brings each and every one to her for care. One of them she named Angel. Angel was a Schnauzer who had been dumped out in the country to fend for herself. She didn’t trust humans and would even bite Sharon. But time, patience, and lots of love and affection transformed Angel into a beautiful, loving dog. After spending nine full years with Sharon, Angel crossed over the Rainbow Bridge in 2010.
Sharon is no stranger to the cost of caring for dogs with medical needs either. Angel developed conditions in her later years that required $150 worth of medicine each month. And in 2008, she adopted Brodie, a seven year old miniature black poodle, paying $750 for a treatment so he could live and be free of hook worms. Brodie is still with Sharon today, and she says he is a “precious soul.”
And then she told me about Stevie. Well, his name was Collin before he met Sharon in 2005. Stevie the “Wonder Dog” is a little black poodle who was born with no eyes. She saw his picture on Petfinder.com one day while searching for a white female poodle, and it was “love at first sight.” She contacted LL Dog Rescue and soon found out that they had rescued Stevie from a breeder who was going to have him euthanized because of his disability. Instead of having his life cut short, he has gone on to live a full and happy life with Sharon.
“Stevie is just the most amazing little character I’ve ever known. I tell everyone that he sees with his heart. You would never realize he was blind because he does everything so well. People just love that little face and all the love he transmits from his little body. It is just so gratifying to have a special needs dog. They emanate love.”
Even though it takes more time and effort to care for Stevie, you wouldn’t know it from the way Sharon talks about him. During our interview, she only made brief mention of the special things she has to do to care for Stevie, such as carrying him up and down stairs and keeping everything in the same place so he can find them easily. The majority of the time she positively gushed about his sweet personality and the joy he has brought to her life.
While special needs animals require extra care, it’s obvious from Sharon’s story that the investment yields an incredible return. There are thousands of animals just like Stevie and Angel out there waiting to be loved, adored, and appreciated for who they are. Do you think you have the time, the money (if need be), and – more importantly – the heart to adopt a special needs cat or dog? If so, find a local shelter or rescue near you today!