Rethinking Pets with Disabilities – Marin Independent Journal

Despite being nearly blind, Lulu is “easily one of the most fearless dogs I’ve ever met,” says owner Kim Bromley.

My dictionary app defines “disability” as “lack of adequate strength, power or physical or mental capacity”. disqualification.”

Hmmm no it isn’t.

Okay, so maybe the pets I’m thinking of, the ones that are blind, one-eyed, deaf, three-legged, or have lost control of their rear ends, aren’t actually disabled because – At least all the pets I know — they are not in any kind of harm. In fact, they are role models for how to control yourself and live life the way it should be, without self-awareness and facial structures.

Lulu is one of our disabled pets. Coming to us as a foster pet, she suffered from a cataract in only one eye, making her almost (but not quite) blind. Nothing slowed Lou down. If anything, his worldview, based on extraordinary hearing and smell, feels more fully realized than mine. He’s bulletproof with all humans – adults, children and babies – and is easily one of the most fearless dogs I’ve ever met. She crashes into the walls in front of her (but she can see a dog that’s a block and a half away), shakes herself off and keeps trucking. One day, I deflated an air mattress and as soon as the electric mechanism started to “Whoah,” our guest dog, Molly, darted out of the room. “Danger, Will Robinson, danger, danger!” But not Lulu. She bowed her head, climbed onto the mattress and rode the floor trying to figure out what was going on, while clearly feeling no danger. Man, I wish I could do that! Needless to say, the foster situation turned into adoption.

Before Lulu, we adopted a three-legged border collie mix named BB. She had a wonderfully gentle and sweet demeanor – and she was very cheerful! A bee couldn’t travel 10 miles, but she could walk two, not every day, that wouldn’t be a good idea. But she walked us daily, and covered some serious ground once or twice a week. I have a lot of soft tissue issues and find myself in a walking boot about once a year, so we were a perfect match. The bee died suddenly and very quickly, possibly from a hemangioma, but it never slowed down, nor did it suffer any damage because it had three legs.

I know dogs who lost the use of their back legs and went on to become champion ball dogs with the help of harness wheels. Three-legged cats whose climbing habits surpass their four-legged companions. Deaf dogs who remember better than their hearing peers. And on it goes. So maybe there is no such thing as disability when it comes to our four-legged companions. Maybe the disability is in us, unable to adjust our worldview or our image of “what we are.” I have learned so much from these strong and dynamic friends and I hope they continue to teach me what it means to live life to the fullest.

Kim Bromley is a volunteer with Marin Humane, contributing articles to Tails of Marin and welcoming animal-related questions and stories about people and animals in our community. go to marinehumane.orgFind us on social media @marinhumane, or email lbloch@marinhumane.org.

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