What to know before adopting a disabled dog, from walking aids to home revamps
Getting a dog is a big commitment – they need feeding, training, grooming… and not to mention lots of walkies.
But they also make loyal and loving companions and quickly become a firm part of the family. We wouldn't be without them!
If you're considering getting a new dog, whether as a first timer or as a seasoned dog owner, have you ever considered a disabled dog?
There are countless dogs in shelters up and down the country awaiting a new home, but among those are also lots of disabled dogs searching for their forever home.
And while they need a little extra care than regular dogs, it's not as different as you might think.
Catherine Gamaleldin, general manager at Miracle's Mission which works to rehome sick, injured and disabled animals, said: "Disabled dogs can live a happy, high-quality life with just a little effort from yourselves."
Caring for a disabled dog
For those considering adopting a disabled dog, Catherine's advice was simple.
She said: "Be patient, follow our advice and enjoy the process."
She also added: "Don't underestimate the dogs! Disabled dogs are generally very active and can be very fast."
While a disabled dog will still need all of the same care as one that is able bodied, there are often some additional responsibilities.
Catherine said: "Through no fault of their own, some disabled dogs are incontinent due to the injuries they have suffered. This means extra cleaning and learning how to express the dog's bladder."
This is something would-be adopters should be aware of. But when rehoming through Miracle's Mission, the team are on hand to help and support adopters through the process.
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Catherine said: "It is important to manage the expectations of a new family so they can be certain that they are a right fit for the dog concerned.
"We also give full training on bladder expression for incontinent dogs, tips on nappy usage, how to get your companion in and out of their doggy wheels, plus training and advice on at-home physiotherapy and how to introduce your new companion to existing companions."
Another consideration when adopting a disabled dog is whether or not your home is suitable and the question of any adaptations that may need to be addressed. But this is rarely the case, and if any, it's usually small changes that are needed.
Catherine said: "Generally, only very minor adaptations are needed for the home, such as installing a stair gate, so please don't think your home isn't suitable for a disabled dog."
Could I rehome a disabled dog?
With the support and training received from Miracle's Mission, potential adopters are not required to have any previous experience.
"Experience can be gained through learning, which we will help you with," said Catherine.
And while the criteria to adopt varies from dog to dog, Catherine said: "The one commonality we look for, which applies to both disabled and able-bodied dogs, is that potential families must have both love and time to give to their new companions.
"If a dog needs extra time and effort spent on them, for things such as physiotherapy, we ensure that the adopter is able bodied enough to do this and also has the time to do it.
"We also make sure that there are physiotherapy and hydrotherapy centres within reasonable travelling distance to their new homes, if needed.
"If the dog needs anything specific such as walking aids, wheels or prosthetics we arrange these before they are adopted.
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The rehoming process
If you think you could give a disabled dog a home, the first thing to do is visit the Miracle's Mission website. Each dog has their own profile where you'll find information about their size, weight, disability, personality, and whether they can be rehomed with children and other animals.
If a dog steals your heart and you're keen to find out if they'd be a good fit for your family, you'll need to fill out an application form and take videos of your home and garden.
Follow up home checks will then be carried out to find out if you're a good match.
But adoption is not the only way you can help the animals at Miracle's Mission.
Catherine said: "If you have doubts that you cannot overcome please consider fostering instead of adoption."
You can find out more about the adoption process and the work of Miracle's Mission by visiting their website.
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