Can You Adopt a Rescue Dog with a Disability?

There are pages of online dog rescue postings with photos of all sorts of dogs who need a forever home, including disabled dogs. One might imagine that it could be a little bit harder to find a home for a disabled dog. Potential caretakers might be fearful of extra care that might be needed, and whether they can provide that care.

Making the Decision to Adopt a Disabled Dog

Animals with special needs or disabilities, are unaware that there are any differences between them and their canine friends. Choosing to adopt a disabled pet is a rewarding experience. The bond between pet parent and their dog is unbreakable. Sadly, rescue animals with special needs often struggle to find the right family to live with and may be the hardest to get adopted.

Courtney Dunning took that plunge eight years ago and hasn’t regretted it for one minute. She was in her 20s and embarking on her adult life and career and wanted a dog in the picture. Because she is a nurse, she thought she might be ideally suited to adopting a dog with disabilities.

To her surprise, “It wound up to be no harder than caring for any other dog. You just put your efforts into slightly different areas. Caring for a disabled dog isn’t out of anyone’s reach; you just have to go into it feeling like you can do it!”

adopting a rescue dog 2008
Courtney and Lucy in 2008

Online Pet Adoption

Lucy is a disabled rescue dog
Lucy in 2016

Courtney decided to adopt Lucy, a mixed breed sato (street dog) rescue from Puerto Rico, incontinent and paralyzed in her rear legs. Lucy had been up for adoption online for over a year at that point.

After the first couple of days of transition, Lucy was eager to run and play and start her new life. Courtney didn’t find diapering Lucy to be a big deal, and a wheelchair allowed Lucy to be mobile.

“Lucy doesn’t know she’s different from other dogs. She doesn’t let anything stop her! She’s just being a dog and loving life.”

Disabled Dog Climbs Mountain!

Little did Courtney know that HandicappedPets.com would spot her one day when they were walking through a small town in New Hampshire. They asked if they could photograph them, and now Courtney and Lucy grace the company’s website pages, as well as banners and boxes.Courtney and Lucy

Lucy races around in her Walkin’ Wheels, seemingly oblivious to the fact that she uses wheels instead of her rear legs. The duo’s “can do” attitude has brought them to several “peak” experiences, as in mountain peaks!

Courtney and Lucy climbed Pack Monadnock several years ago, and then began training to make the climb to the top of Mt. Washington. The day of the climb, Courtney was a bit nervous, but the climb went extremely well. They made it to the top in about six hours.

Here is a video of the climb:

Courtney reflects on the bond she has with Lucy. “It’s a different kind of bond that you get with a dog compared to a relationship with a human. It has fewer complications, it’s more simple. Like caring for a child, you take care of a dog. It’s an important job, and you get a lot out of it. It’s been a really great experience.”

Sounds like adopting a disabled dog is very similar to adopting any other dog – it’s a really great experience!

disabled rescue dog


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2 Comments

  1. Are you aware of any small dogs with a disability available for adoption, we are a service dog foundation in chicago, barking angels

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