Taking on an animal with special needs is definitely a challenge, but it’s worth it to help improve the life of an animal! These pets usually need more attention at home, may require ongoing veterinary care and sometimes even need the help of assistive devices, such as carts, orthoses/prostheses or special harnesses. Pet owners often adjust their own lives to accommodate the needs of their companion. Erin Kowalski, one of IPC’s Animal Rehabilitation Therapists and founder of Bialy’s Wellness Foundation, has fostered many special-needs animals and has a special-needs dog of her own named Josh.
Josh was paralyzed as a puppy and has spent most of his life in a cart. By now, it’s just as much a part of him as any other part of his body and he moves in it with speed and ease! To accommodate Josh and his cart, Erin has made some changes to her home. Erin keeps carpeted tiles laid out over her hardwood floors in the main areas to provide traction and has Josh’s cart outfitted with bumpers so if he takes a tight turn, both the wall and the dog are protected. When not in his cart, Josh has his own room which is organized specifically for him.
“Organization is essential,” Erin explains. “His room is heavily padded so when he moves, the impact on his hind legs isn’t that intense. The drawers contain basic first aid, potty pads, diapers, extra blankets, and, most importantly, toys.”
While Erin doesn’t have to get up on cold winter mornings to take Josh out to potty, she is mindful of when she needs to express his bladder.
“Routine is very important when you have a specially-abled animal. Since Josh has trouble going on his own, I need to express him on a regular basis. If I don’t, he is at a higher risk for Urinary Tract Infection’s.” She keeps Josh on a diet made up primarily of raw food and supplements to help maintain a firm stool. “It’s just an easier clean-up!”
The extra work and accommodations are well worth it.
“Everything I do for Josh, is repaid tenfold in the love and companionship he provides me.”