Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Aren't all dogs "special"?

Yes, everyone's beloved pet is special.

I named this blog "... life with 3 special dachshunds" because each of my 3 are particularly special plus their special needs. I started this blog to show how dogs with special needs, be it physical or behavioural, can have happy lives.

Heidi's special need is obvious; her IVDD, her cart (or wheelchair) and her diapers. Her love of life and people make her "differences" fade away within seconds of meeting her. She is truly special rather than special needs.

Valentin's special need is an invisible type of disability or special need. Due to the lack of socialization and mistreatment during the first 18 months of his life, he has fear aggression issues with people. From the first moment I met Valentin, he was fine with me, but he is definitely not comfortable with the rest of the world. As long as I control his environment and exposure to people, he can have a happy life; but it requires a constant awareness on my part to ensure he is not put in a situation that would trigger him. I also work with him on an on-going basis following a desensitization program specifically designed for him by an animal behaviourist. As our behaviourist has said, "Valentin is as much as special needs kid as Heidi". He has improved. Valentin is comfortable at his doggie day care and gives at least one of the staff members kisses. I expect that he will be a "work in progress" for all of his life, and I am fine with that. With me, he is as loving a little furkid as anyone could ever ask for.

Pogo was an indoor dog 24/7 before coming to live with us. His special need is learning about the great outdoors. He is almost perfect at using pee pads, but his transition to also using the great outdoors as a bigger pee pad is very slow. Pogo will hold it until he gets inside to his papers. We were out travelling for the day and I did not realize that Pogo had not eliminated once, although we were outside for a great deal of the time. The poor boy was so happy to get home and rush into the bathroom to his pee papers. You could almost hear the sigh of relief. He is also still learning about the great outdoors beyond being the world's biggest pee pad. Wind is scary, this invisible hand that pushes him along. Rain, cold and snow are things to be avoided at all costs (although the silly boy LOVES to eat snow and will sneak snowballs into the house, hidden in his mouth). His dachshund pattern baldness is a special need in so far as he gets cold more easily and usually wears a t-shirt inside for most of the year. When he came into rescue, he was misdiagnosed as having a food allergy. We do want to raise the awareness of this phenomenon that is more common to dachshunds.
The other thing that makes Pogo special, is not a need, but a characteristic. This boy can JUMP!! So far, he has gotten two loaves of bread down from the kitchen counter top. He can jump straight up, shoulder height. I am so grateful that he has (so far) not been able to combine forward motion with his leaps. We are working on keeping him on the floor, as this behaviour will almost inevitably lead to back injuries if he continues. Some statistics say that one in four dachshunds will have some sort of back episode in their lifetime, while others say one in five. My hope is that through education, the use of ramps, etc, that the odds are slowly improving for this wonderful little breed.

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