Adopting a special-needs pet is a wonderful act of compassion. It requires patience and dedication to give them a loving home despite all their challenges. If you’re considering adopting a special needs dog, learn more about the rewards, challenges, and commitment from special needs pet parent, Bryce LaDuc. One of Bryce’s dogs, Finn, had an accident in 2019 that resulted in a spinal stroke that left him paralyzed in his hind end, though that never got the best of him and you can find him living his best life wheeling around in his chair.
What are some of the challenges you have faced with your special needs dog?
When Finn first became immobile, he couldn’t use his back legs at all. As time has gone on, and through physical therapy and strengthening, he was able to gain a little bit of mobility back in his hind legs. Since he seemed discouraged that he couldn’t do things he used to be able to do we decided to get him a wheelchair so he had more independence. The one thing we struggle with most with Finn is that he and our other dog, Arlo, who is 4, are at two different stages in life and it is hard to find adventures that they are both capable of doing. We do a lot of van camping, swimming, and beach trips so that Finn can be included.
We know that every pup is special in their own way, what makes Finn so special?
Even through his immobility, Finn never gave up. Each day he would wake up and try as hard as he could to use his legs. He truly doesn’t think anything is wrong with him and he thinks he can do the things he used to be able to do. Nothing could ever break his spirit and he shows us that each and every day. It is truly an inspiration and an honor to be his Mom through all of his years, but these years especially. He teaches me something new each day on unconditional love, resilience, and determination. He is FINNspirational all around!
Why would you recommend that people consider adopting a special-needs or ‘less adoptable pet’?
I think these pets just understand life differently and they will teach you things you had no idea you needed to learn. Often, the only thing that makes them unadoptable is a disability and I have learned through Finn the ONLY disability is a bad attitude. Where there is a will there is a way and they will love you for giving them the chance to show you that. If Finn could talk, he would tell you that “special-needs” truly only means that they are “more special!”
What are some ways you have helped Finn live an amazing life and not let him be held back by his disability?
When Finn was paralyzed we did all the things we could to bring him back to mobility. Water therapy, Underwater Treadmill, Acupuncture, Cold Laser treatments, supplements and everything else in our power to help him become “him” again. When we realized that Finn’s mobility was only going to come back in a very limited form we could sense he was getting frustrated and he needed something to give him more independence. This is when we outfitted him with an “adventure” wheelchair. The second he got in it it was a hit and he would use it to bomb on the trials and down the beach. Having his wheelchair gave him confidence and he actually became more independently mobile after he had it and he could strengthen his legs more. He has never let his disability hold him back from anything and he gives it his all to be able to do all the things he wants to do! We just are there as moderators so he doesn’t overdo it!
What are some things pet parents should know before adopting a special needs dog
Some days are going to be better than others. If you have a frustrating day, understand that it was probably frustrating for them, too. Enjoy the uniqueness of your situation – a bond will form in a way that you didn’t realize possible when you have a special needs pet relying on you. You think for a minute that it wouldn’t be able to live without you, but truly it becomes the other way around. Let them be themselves – let them try to be “normal,” and give them space to grow! It is amazing how resilient they are!
Thank you so much to Bryce for sharing with us what it’s like to be a pet parent to a special needs dog. You can follow along on all her adventures with Finn and family on Instagram at @laducb and on her blog, It’s me @laducb.