The Making of Special Needs Companions

Posted by April Nockleby, ALDF's Online Content Manager on September 23, 2009

I was a junior in college when I adopted Maggie, my canine companion. She was the first dog I adopted after moving out of my parents’ house, and I admittedly didn’t have much experience with dogs. When I saw her at the local humane society, it was love at first sight. She was just under 2-years-old and was so sweet and beautiful.

Maggie at the beachAfter filling out the adoption paperwork and bringing her home, I quickly learned that Maggie wasn’t the playful pup I was expecting. She seemed shy and fearful in her new surroundings. She would duck her head when I would go to pet her. She would submissively urinate at what seemed to be the most inappropriate times; usually when I walked in the front door or when friends would come over. She hid in my closet after hearing certain sounds or if more than a couple of people were in the house. It quickly became clear that Maggie had traumatic experiences in life that left her fearful of humans.

I quickly adapted to Maggie’s needs and learned how to care for my special girl. I learned what upset her and what made her feel safe. Most importantly, Maggie learned that not all people were to be feared and some were in fact very kind.

I recently listened to a podcast on Scout’s House Radio entitled, “The Making of Special Needs Pets.” In the interview, ALDF’s Chief Outside Litigation Counsel Bruce Wagman discussed how humans create special needs companions – special needs companions like Maggie, who, at the age of two, was too fearful to play. Or Edgar, ALDF Founder Joyce Tischler’s dog whose teeth were rotten when he was found living in his own excrement on the North Carolina property of now-convicted animal hoarders Robert and Barbara Woodley. Or cats like Possum, Jerry, Pearl, Larry, and Amy – all of whom were found to be suffering from dehydration, urine burns, and infections when they were rescued from horrific living conditions at the Oregon home of Jean Marie Primrose.

Don’t miss this powerful podcast about how humans create special needs companions and what we can do to help stop it. Listen now.

We want to hear your story! Let us know if you have cared for a special needs companion and what you’ve learned through the experience.

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