This blog was co-authored by Annie M. and Estelle W.
National Specially-Abled Pets day is observed every year on May 3rd and was founded in 2006 by Animal Behaviorist and Pet Lifestyle Expert, Colleen Paige. The goal of this holiday is to celebrate the animals who amaze us with how they cope with challenges brought on by birth flaws, disease or injuries. National Specially-Abled Pets Day also encourages potential adopters to consider adopting a special needs pet.
If the internet has taught us anything, it’s that people are really inspired by these animals! Watching them flourish in the face of adversity shows us that we, too, can overcome “limitations” with the same tenacity, and that life can still be cherished when we focus on the positive.
We want to share our top 10 favorite specially-abled pets (in no particular order) and we invite you to share yours with us in the comments below.
10. Daisy: #underbitunite
Daisy was born with paralyzed front legs and twisted wrists and elbows. She was found abandoned on the streets of Bellflower and sat in the animal shelter for two months without an interested adopter. Scheduled for euthanasia, she was pulled by a volunteer with A Home 4Ever Rescue and placed in a home a few months later. Daisy’s owner describes her as happy, and credits her with teaching them that “pets with special needs are not very different from others.” You can follow Daisy on Instagram at #underbiteunite and on her Facebook page.
9. Quasi the Ugly Kitty
Quasi was adopted from a shelter in Annapolis, MD and her special look is thought to be caused by a cleft lip that connects to her eye. She has some partial blindness and a difficult time smelling as result of a sinus issue, but that does not get Quasi down! A year after her adoption, her owner set up The Ugly Kitty Fund, using Quasi’s internet celebrity status as a way to raise funds for their local cat shelter. Quasi is now living the good life and even has a special needs buddy, a 3-legged cat named, “Ilean.” You can keep up with Quasi by following her on Facebook.
8. Max: Lover of Leaves
Arthritis and hip dysplasia caused such severe back, leg and hip problems that Max the Sniffer Dog had to retire from active duty with the Avon and Somerset Police Force after seven years of dedicated service. His former colleagues paid for a special ‘chariot’ to help him fight his disabilities. Inspector Anne Higgins of Tiverton Police said: “They have given him freedom – there’s no stopping him now. There’s nowhere he can’t go.” Max is said to have a special fondness for chasing leaves.
7. Homer the Blind WonderCat
Homer may be the most famous blind cat who ever lived, thanks to his mom, Gwen Cooper, and her New York Times bestselling novel; Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale. Homer was a stray kitten who wound up in the hands of a young, idealistic vet. His eyes were badly infected and well past the point of treatment, but instead of euthanizing this neonatal, the vet removed both eyes and then set about finding a home for him. That’s where the story begins. If you’re looking for a great book to read, 10 percent of royalties from Homer’s Odyssey are donated to organizations that serve abused, abandoned and disabled animals.
6. Naki’o: ”Bionic” Dog
Naki’o lost all four paws and the tip of his tail to frostbite when he was just a puppy. After being nursed back to health at an animal rescue center, he met veterinary assistant Christie Pace, who was looking to adopt an animal who needed help. When she saw Naki’o, she knew he was The One. She adopted him at eight weeks old and immediately launched a fundraiser to get prosthetics for his back legs. He did so well with the back leg prosthetics that Orthopets, the company that made them, also furnished him front leg prosthetics for free. Now Naki’o enjoys life to the fullest and can walk, run, play and even swim! Just look at that big smile! See more of Naki’o on his Facebook page.
5. Lil Bub
We have to include Lil Bub! If you aren’t familiar with this perma-kitten, where have you been?! Lil Bub was the runt of the litter, born with several genetic mutations to a feral mom. Her specific health complications include legs too short for her body, osteoporosis, a short lower jaw, toothlessness and to top it all off she is also a dwarf and a polydactyl (she has extra toes)! None of these things stop her from waddling around, eating voraciously and charming her legions of devoted fans. Her owner, Mike Bridavsky, has set up a fund called, “Lil Bub’s Big Bund for the ASPCA,” which accepts direct donations and also donates a percentage of sales from Bub merchandise to help support pets needing special care. You can join the nearly 700,000 people who have already liked her Facebook page here.
4. Duncan Lou Who: Unstoppable
Duncan was born with a severely deformed pelvis and back legs, which eventually had to be amputated. But even though he has several custom wheelchairs, he MUCH prefers to tear around on his two front legs. Check out the video and tell me if YOU could keep up with this wonder-pup!
3. Anakin the Two-Legged Miracle Cat
Back in 2012, Anakin was a 6-week-old kitten hanging with a gang of ferals who would frequently hit up Carrie Hawk’s dad’s office for food. Only after catching him (which took a few tries) did she realize he was ”different.” X-rays at the vet revealed he had no back legs and was also missing a pelvis! To get around, “he positions his front legs at an angle towards the middle of his body and balances his back end in the air with his tail touching the ground if he needs it. He gets around really well that way and is pretty quick too.” Anakin’s favorite activities are lounging and purring in the laps of friends and admirers. Sounds like a perfect cat! Visit his Facebook page for more cute pictures of Anakin!
2. Isaac and Isabella
About a year ago, Isaac the blind Husky and Isabella the chi/terrier mix made national headlines after they were picked up as strays and taken to a local animal shelter. There, they were rescued by the STAND Foundation, which recognized that they were a bonded pair who needed to stay together. Why was this news? Amazingly, not only were Isaac and Isabella bonded by friendship, but Isabella also acted as Isaac’s seeing-eye dog, ever watchful over his movements and guiding him by barks when he strayed too far from her. Isaac had some pretty serious health issues to overcome, but luckily both dogs were placed with a caring foster family who helped Isabella look out for Isaac (and got looked after herself, too). Today, a spokesperson for the STAND Foundation tells me, “they’re both well and loved. Isaac is a graceful soul who comfortably navigates their new home, and Isabella is his always-present and spunky co-pilot.” We are so happy for these best friends!
1. Ruth and Idgie
Ruth the cat and Idgie the dog were found abandoned in a driveway in Florida in October of 2013. When animal services came to investigate, Idgie the dachshund would not let them get too close and refused to leave Ruth’s side. He also issued several stern barks to communicate his uneasiness. On closer inspection, it was discovered that Ruth is a paraplegic and has no use of her back legs. No owner ever came forward to claim them even though they seemed to be well looked after. The pair were adopted by Jacqueline Borum, owner of the Hollywood Houndz Boutique & Spa. Borum reports that they are still together and still the best of friends. “The two share a pen and whenever another dog approaches, Idgie will stand between Ruth and the other dog and bark. He’s very protective of her.”
Do you have a favorite special needs pet that inspires you? Tell us in the comments below!