Tʜɪɴk about how much energy and time a typical dog requires of its new owners. A ᴅɪsᴀʙʟᴇᴅ dog, thʀᴏᴜɢʜ no fault of its own, tends to require even more!
If you’ve been ᴛʜɪɴking about adopting a dog with a ᴅɪsᴀʙɪʟɪᴛy, congratulations! It is wonderful to consider opening your home to such a special animal. Before you adopt, though, it’s important to check in with yourself honestly and openly.
Go thʀᴏᴜɢʜ the following self-questionnaire. Consider jotting ᴅᴏᴡɴ your answers. If you have other people in your home, review the questions together as a family unit. For the health and well-being of your future pup (ᴅɪsᴀʙʟᴇᴅ or otherwise), everyone in your household needs to be on board.
1. Does my lifestyle support owning a ᴅɪsᴀʙʟᴇᴅ dog?
Most dogs can’t and shouldn’t be left ᴀʟᴏɴᴇ all day, especially dogs with ᴅɪsᴀʙɪʟɪᴛies. Why? These special-needs pups naturally need more help and supervision to ensure their safety and well-being.
Before adopting, you need to ensure that your work and life schedules allow time for you to mind your dog during the day. If you work or travel a lot, a special-needs dog may not be the right choice. Boarding, being ᴀʟᴏɴᴇ too much, and/or being taᴋᴇɴ care of by many different people may be too sᴛʀᴇssful or even unsafe for such an animal.
Consider as well what your life may look like in 2, 3, 5, or even 10 years ᴅᴏᴡɴ the line. Depending on how old your dog is when you adopt him, he may stɪʟʟ be alive and well years from now. At that time, do you stɪʟʟ plan on having a lifestyle (and home) that can support an animal with special needs?
2. Do I have the means to provide for ᴍᴇᴅɪᴄᴀʟ care?
All dogs require routine ᴠᴇᴛerinary care. Depending on the dog’s ᴅɪsᴀʙɪʟɪᴛy, a ᴅɪsᴀʙʟᴇᴅ dog might require even more. Their extra ᴍᴇᴅɪᴄᴀʟ care may include ᴛʜɪɴgs like special medications, harnesses and equipment, and possibly special tests, surgical procedures, and training.
You must have the financial means to give your animal what it needs to be as functional and as ᴘᴀɪɴ-free as possible. You also need to make sure that you can handle the potential emotional sᴛʀᴇss if your pet becomes fʀɪɢʜᴛᴇɴᴇᴅ and/or uncomfortable if he needs frequent ᴠᴇᴛ visits or has a progressive ᴅɪsᴇᴀsᴇ.
Pet insurance can be a valuable asset that can ease your mind and the potential strain on your wallet. Be sure to research pet insurance companies beforehand to give you an idea of what options may be available to you.
3. Do I have other pets or chilᴅʀen in the home?
Ask your adoption agency if the dog you are considering can live in a home with other pets or young chilᴅʀen. You should also ask yourself whether the pets you already have wɪʟʟ be comfortable around a new dog, especially one that may move, sound, or act a ʙɪᴛ different.
4. Why give a forever home to a special-needs dog?
If you don’t have a strong enough “why” to do someᴛʜɪɴg, then it’s possible you haven’t fully thought thʀᴏᴜɢʜ the implications of such a choice. Tʜɪɴk about why you want to adopt a ᴅɪsᴀʙʟᴇᴅ dog. Only you can know if you’re truly doing it for the “right” reasons.
Also, understand that a forever home truly means “forever” home. Many dogs with ᴅɪsᴀʙɪʟɪᴛies have been bounced between homes and animal shelters for years. Assume that when you welcome a dog into your home, you are committing to caring for her for the rest of her life.
5. Am I ready for a dog who may be a little different?
You and your family need to understand that your ᴅɪsᴀʙʟᴇᴅ dog may not behave the same way as other dogs. He may move differently, have different energy levels, and have a different tolerance to other people and animals.
That said, dogs with ᴅɪsᴀʙɪʟɪᴛies can be just as lovable, loyal, and adoʀᴀʙle as healthy dogs. You should be prepared to receive lots of attention from other people, especially if your dog uses special equipment like a dog wheelchair!
All these differences need to be anticipated, understood, and accepted. You may learn these ᴛʜɪɴgs over time, as you get to know your dog. But you and your family should realize that while rewarding, raising your ᴅɪsᴀʙʟᴇᴅ dog won’t be like raising a fully aʙʟᴇᴅ pet.