Differently Abled Puppy From Mississippi Finds His Perfect Home in New Hampshire
I sometimes play the matchmaker between disabled animals and loving homes. Romeo's story is unlike any others, but let me go back to the beginning...
Down in Mississippi, there was a tiny dog, all by himself, in a barn, shivering for attention. Momma and siblings were contently resting far away from the little creature. Thankfully, one big hearted person picked up the puppy and nursed him back into health. She named him Romeo. :-) It was obvious from the beginning that something is different about him. Romeo hopped around with stiff hind legs, or dragged himself on the ground, trying to run, play. A set of little wheels helped him a lot, but still, I could not help hoping that one day, Romeo could walk/run like other dogs.
I took in Romeo but shortly after introducing him to my own menagerie, my stress level was at its maximum. I could see that it will not work out on a long run, Romeo's stay had to be temporary. My other dogs were cornering his little body and my standard poodle was playful but rough with him. One bad move with that giant paw could be Romeo's end. A sharp, visible bump shows where the vertebrae are fused together. His little body curled up in fear and I realized - I needed to find a home for him. Rather quickly. I never questioned my ability to succeed, but I did not expect to find the perfect home on the same day!!
I have contacted a woman who lives in Vermont and also head over heels about handicapped animals. She was very interested in Romeo, but without seeing him, of course, she could not make a commitment. Tracey and I have met afterwards, and we both agreed, it would have not been the ideal setting for the puppy. Some of Tracey's dogs are also extra large and get a kick out of rough play. Romeo had to be one of two dogs at the most.
Here I was still, sitting with Romeo on my lap, my heart melting. I loved this little 'bear cub' as some of us call him. He has so much willpower to live, so much determination to prove that he is just as good - if not better - than any other dog!
I was browsing Facebook while posting Romeo's picture on different sites. The picture of his cute face and tiny body collected hundreds of 'likes', 'hearts' ' "OMG's" , but his disability has turned people down, or their living arrangements were not safe enough to my standards. THEN, out of nowhere came a message from Stephen N. who lives in my neighborhood. He told me, he would love to raise a disabled animal. He already has a dog named Jacob, who is not only his best friend, but also his helper. Stephen shared it with me that he is differently abled as well. Naturally, I was excited, but worried a bit. I did not care about how disabled Stephen was, I wanted to know about his strengths. I wanted to make sure that the three of them, (Stephen, Jacob and Romeo) can live safely, independently and that Jacob the boxer will take Romeo under his care as well.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by a young man who proved to be not only strong but amazingly intelligent, diligent and independent. He loved Romeo from the first moment on. I put the pooch on the ground and we watched his reaction to the new environment. He performed a happy dance, hopping up and down like a little Bronco. I swear, that was his way of saying "I am home!!" You might ask how Jacob did. From the first minute on he acted friendly. No growling or sign of aggression at all. I felt confident that Romeo has come home. There was a lot of sniffing and excitement but Jacob was very careful of Romeo. Right away Jacob tuned into the puppy's disability and acted as a protective big brother.
On top of the excitement there is another fact that will blow your mind away! Romeo has not needed his cart since he arrived at his human dad, Stephen! Day by day, his condition improves and yes, his vertebrae remains fused, he is unstoppable. He can run like the wind and plays hard, continuously wags his tail! Towards the end of the day, Romeo slows down and walks like a drunken sailor, but he does not lose his willpower to try again.
Let this story remind us that we should never judge anyone just by the way they act or look. Not people, not animals. If you give them a chance, they most likely will surprize you with their inner strengths and personalities - and those are the qualities that really matter. :-)
(Before you rehome ANY animal, please conduct a home visit and check references. This wonderful story does not erase the sad fact that there are some horrible people out there.)