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Tag: handicaps

We all need somebody to lean on


Among the dogs we met in Charlotte during our visit to The Dog Bar, were Skyler and Pierce, two white Great Danes who — one being half blind, one being deaf, neither having the distinct black markings harlequin Great Danes are supposed to have — were headed to the kind of future “defective” dogs often face.

Namely, no future at all.

They were part of a larger litter that turned out to be unprofitable. All the pups were affected by a strain of distemper — but because of their additional handicaps, Skyler and Pierce, the breeder decided, couldn’t even be given away, and therefore should be put down.

That’s when Laura Moss and Fred Metzler stepped in. Laura was working at an animal emergency clinic at the time. The litter of Great Danes ended up there. She already had three dogs at home, so she asked Fred, her friend of several years, to adopt the two future-less siblings.

Fred, a sales manager for a company that makes automatic doors, agreed. But, because he traveled a lot, he often called upon Laura to pet sit the duo — Skyler, the deaf one, and Pierce, the blind one — when he was out of town.

At Fred’s house, Laura noticed, the two pups — as they did at the hospital — continued to stay at each others’ sides. When they went to sleep, Skyler would lay her head on top of Pierce.

“That way, if he hears something, he’ll react. Then she’ll be the police dog and go check it out. They’ve been that way since they were babies,” Laura said. “There’s no way we could separate them.”

Skyler, named for her sky blue eyes, is 106 pounds; Pierce, named, for his handsomeness, after actor Pierce Brosnan, is 175 pounds. Despite their handicaps, they manage, with help from each other, to do all that dogs do.

Fred and Laura have come up with a system of sign language to communicate with Skyler, including more than 20 commands. The two dogs have become a striking and familiar sight in Charlotte’s NoDa neighborhood. They even march in the local St. Patrick’s Day parade.

And they get along fine with Laura’s other dogs — a miniature pinscher named Jade, a Boston terrier named Halley and a dalmatian named Dax, who she also brought home from the animal hospital. His former owner dropped him off and, once learning he had heartworm, never picked him up.

Since she talked him into adopting the dogs, Laura and Fred have become a couple, and now share a residence with all five of their dogs.

Laura doesn’t give the Great Danes full credit for bringing two humans together — but maybe, on some level, the relationship between the two big white dogs represents a lesson to be learned: Having someone in your life you can turn to, and depend on, and whose strengths can compliment your weaknesses, has its advantages.

Or maybe that’s reading too much into it.

“The friendship is what brought us together,” Laura says, “but the Great Danes didn’t hurt.”

He’s Claude no more

Naming a dog after his deformity, funny as some may find it, seemed downright cruel to Barbara Sulier.

And that’s why the dog she adopted — born with ectrodactyly, or “lobster claw syndrome” — no longer goes by “Claude.”

A 2-year-old, 60-pound pit bull mix, Claude’s now named Cody. He was left at a shelter as a pup, then rescued by Even Chance, a San Diego-based pit bull advocacy center, which paid for surgery to help correct the deformity by fusing his two toes together.

Now, Cody lives happily with what’s called a “mitten” paw. He’s found a forever home with Sulier. And he’s been certified as a therapy dog, PeoplePets reports.

Working with New Leash on Life Animal Rescue’s Lend a Paw program, he’s the first of his breed to be certified as a therapy dog through the organization, which Sulier hopes will set the record straight about other dogs of his kind.

“Pitties are sweet, loyal dogs, and the reason they become mean dogs is because they’re so loyal, they will do anything you ask them to,” she says. “People need to see that they really are extremely loving dogs.”

Every other week, Sulier and Cody head to the Jewish Home for the Aging in their hometown of Los Angeles. Sulier feels Cody, who walks with a slight limp, has a personal connection to those he comforts.

“He’s been pretty special ever since [I adopted him],” she says. “For some reason, from the bottom of my heart, I know I’m supposed to have Cody.”

Two wheels for Tuzik

More than six months ago, a dog was hit by a car in St. Petersburg, Russia, and left to die.

But witnesses to the accident picked up the dog and brought him to a veterinary clinic. A veterinarian performed surgery, for free, but the dog’s spinal injuries were such that he lost the use of his back legs and wasn’t expected to walk again.

He was taken to an animal shelter, whose staff couldn’t bear the thought of the dog, who they named Tuzik, spending his life laying in the shelter’s dirt yard.

After a flurry of Internet searching and email exchanges, hampered by language differences, arrangements were made for Tuzik to be shipped to the U.S. and taken in by Pets With Disabilities, a non-profit group in Prince Frederick, Maryland.

The organization rescues and finds home for animals who have been injured through trauma or disabled by illness. It provides support and resources for the families of disabled pets and for shelters attempting to place special-needs animals into loving homes. Joyce Darrell and her husband, Michael Dickerson, founded the organization in 2000 after their dog Duke broke his back playing as a puppy. Tuzik10-09

Tuzik arrived in October.

“Why a dog from Russia? We were wondering the same thing for many months,” Darrell says on the Pets With Disabilities website, “But Tuzik was on a mission to find a better life – and meet a family that would appreciate all he had to offer.” Darrell says he has “brought a sense of royal majesty to the rescue. It’s hard to explain, but when you sit with him, you have no pity for him – he really is not looking for that…

“He’s moving around the rescue with more confidence everyday. He’s begun to play with toys – and he has a huge heart to offer the right family.”

Tuzik is available for adoption. To see more of him and the organization’s other disabled dogs in need of homes, click here.

(Photo courtesy of Pets With Disabilities)

solidworks 2013